Stubbington Green 10K – The Acid Test

It’s 7am on Sunday 18th January and my alarm has just gone off, must be time for the Stubbington Green 10K.

Now as this is my first event of 2015 I was understandably excited and keen to get going.  My reaction to the alarm going off was to set it to go off again at 8am and get back to sleep.  God knows why I was getting up so early for a 10am race start.  What was I thinking?

So, it’s 8am on Sunday 18th January and my alarm has just gone off (for the second time), must be time for the Stubbington Green 10K.

Up out of bed, shower, running gear on, bowl of porridge and I am out the door on the way to Stubbington.  The weather forecast was for it to be cold but the rain to stay away.  The look of the sky as I got closer to Stubbington said otherwise and as I parked my car I was hoping that the weather would hold and it would not rain.

Really, running in the rain doesn’t bother me; however I run either barefoot or in my Luna Sandals (picture on the right) most of the time and barefoot running in the rain is no fun.  Your feet get cold and the wet ground has a much more abrasive effect on your feet than when it is dry.  Deciding to stick with the sandals I put my rain jacket in my bag (just in case) and headed towards the main race area at the community centre.

Having already collected my race number, I only had to drop off my bag and then I was ready to go.  Now when I say it was cold it was cold.  Too cold for standing around in running gear, so after a quick trip to the loo I slowly jogged towards the start.

The start was set in waves, with me going in the green wave (second to last group) as my projected run time was around 60 minutes and the organisers would not want a plodder like me holding up the swifter runners.

It was my plan to meet up with Curry before the race; however he had given me the cryptic directions to meet him “where the closed Budgens used to be”.  Now I had now idea where this might be in the village of Stubbington so just decided to keep an eye out for him at the start.  Sure enough I spotted him whilst I was jogging on the spot and doing a bit of stretching to keep warm.  

Curry in his “short shorts”

Curry clearly does not feel the cold like I do, as he had on a pair of shorts that really did not leave very much to the imagination.  Have you ever heard that song “Who Wears Short Shorts” by The Royal Teens?  If you haven’t, allow me to explain.  In the song they sing “Who wears short shorts?”.  Well the answer to that question is that Curry wears short shorts.  I have enclosed a picture on the left to give you an idea just how short his shorts were.  

Anyway, after I got over the initial shock of just how short Curry’s shorts were, we had a brief chat before it was time for the off.  Curry jogged ahead to join his wave (as he is a quicker runner than I am) and I headed back down the queue of starters to join in with the fellow green wave competitiors.

Before the race I had two ideas in my head.  Firstly I wanted to try to get under 60 minutes, with a stretch target of under 55 minutes if I felt good on the day.  Secondly I wanted to run a negative split.

A negative split is when you run the second half of the race faster than the first half.  This is standard practice for most professional athletes.  Also it works brilliantly for each leg of a triathlon as you get time to adjust to the new discipline as you swap between swimming/cycling/running.  Practicing running a negative split is always a good idea.

Crossing the start line I start my Garmin running and set out at a comfortable pace.  Glancing down at my watch after a few minutes I noticed I was running at 5:15min/km pace.  This is a bit quick for me; however I felt good and my heart rate was around threshold so I decided to stick with it.

Quick note on threshold heart rate.  This is between 82% and 87% of your maximum heart rate and is an intensity that you should be able to maintain for an hour.  My maximum heart rate is 191, meaning that threshold occurs somewhere around 156-166 beats per minute. 

Running downhill, then up, I was quickly past the 2km mark and then the 3km mark.  I still felt good and was holding steady at around 5:30min/km with a steady heart rate between 155 and 160bpm.  Things were going well and I felt great.  It was superb to be running with such a large group of fellow athletes (2000 registered for the event) and I was even overtaking a few people.

Grabbing a bottle of water just before the 5km mark I had a couple of swigs, dropped the bottle in the bin then had a think about what I should do.  I was through 5km in around 27 minutes and felt OK.  It was always my plan to run the second half of the race faster than the first, but how much faster?  Kicking on I made a concerted effort to keep my pace as close to 5:10min/km as I could.  This was all going well until we got to the only major hill on the course.  Determined to get up this hill quickly and not let it slow my pace I pushed hard and remarkably my body responded well.  I flew past a good few runners and getting to the top of the hill felt fine.  My heart rate was up but recovered quickly and I was back to pace again.

It was at this point that a huge smile came across my face.  I realised that I can actually do this running business.  My race plan was working.  All of the hours I have spent in the pool, on the bike and running the dark cold streets of Pompey were paying off.  I couldn’t help thinking about Trevor (Triathlon coach) and the gang who I train with on Monday’s and Wednesday nights.  All of those evenings spent with Trevor putting us through punishing intervals were for exactly this.  There is danger of me becoming a proper Triathlete yet!

Pushing on past the 7km mark for the final 3km I felt brilliant.  My pace remained at around 5min/km and I was overtaking even more people.  With 2km to go I picked up my run rate determined to put in a quick end to the race.  With 1km to go I matched the very lithe and extremely quick fella next to me stride for stride right up to 50 metres from the line (where he finally put the burners on and lost me).

Over the line I stopped my watch and was gobsmacked as it read 52:36.  52 minutes and 36 seconds!  I, James “Iron” Snook, had run 10K in 52 minutes and 36 seconds.  This is a whopping 11 minutes faster than I had ever run 10K before.  To say I was pleased was an understatement.

My race plan had worked perfectly.  I ran a negative split, never ran out of energy and felt great for the entire run.  I attacked the uphills, relaxed on the downhills and really really enjoyed my race.  

As I sit on my sofa writing this I simply cannot wait for the rest of the 2015 season.  I will keep training hard, keep trying to eat right and hopefully go onto another personal best at the Arundel Lido Triathlon in May (my next event).

I hope that you and your family have had a great weekend.  Keep your eyes peeled for another blog update soon.



PS – If you are wondering about how Curry got on in his short shorts, he did rather well.  He also recorded a 10K PB of 51:33.  Perhaps there is something in these short shorts?  They really were so short!

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