For the third time, I did the Run4all Leeds 10k this year. Unusually though, there were people there I knew relatively well, because I’ve been running with them once a week since March.
Say hello to some of the South Leeds Lakers (and Hunslet Hawks). We’re a wide-ranging bunch doing 5ks from 40min to 18min, and we’re very friendly and chatty and cheerful and supportive of each other. We run once a week on Tuesdays from 6:45pm at the Co-op in Beeston (usually). Come & join us! And in a few weeks I’ll be one of the run leaders, too. Near the back.
Anyway, the race. Last year’s 10k was 16 seconds faster than in ’13, which annoyed me dreadfully, enough to kick me into doing November’s Abbey Dash (more-or-less the same route) in 1h11m, five minutes faster than in June. But I knew I could do better. A few weeks ago I managed to get a sub-30 at Parkrun so I figured a 1:09 would be a realistic target for 10k, with 1:06 being something to hope for but not realistically achieve.
We all met up for a team photo, I got a cuppa and dropped my bag off, then we all split up into our various factions based on what our expected times were. After some minor faff with the GPS – tall buildings were messing with the signal – we were champing at the bit to get rolling. I started off a bit too fast and lost the people I was running with quite early, and then by the time we were on the road out of Leeds I’d settled down into a regular rhythmn. The pace was a bit slow but I picked it up once we got off Wellington St and I was able to watch the faster runners coming back home, which is a great distraction technique, looking out for and calling out to people you know in Lakers tshirts. Also very welcome were those Lakers who weren’t running and instead stood on the side of the road yelling like loons when they spotted the distinctive green-and-orange shirts!
The turnaround was a pain, as always; it always clusters and the racing line – ho ho – slowed right down as the slight incline took new runners by surprise. But it was ok, and I spotted the group I started with and gave them a cheery wave on the way past. I picked up the pace a bit going past Kirkstall Valley and managed to keep up a steady 9m45s/mile until I got to the fire station when my thigh started cramping up, and I could feel it beginning to let go. I had to stop for a few seconds to massage it out, and then I was fine. Picking up as much as I dared the slip road back up into town beckoned – the bane of many Kirkstall Road runners – and then it was done. I couldn’t sprint finish, but I was only two metres behind a lunatic in a rhino costume who started at the front of the green group (I started in the last third) and although I would have liked to beat him it was ok.
Time? Oooh, I was so, so happy with this. 1:05:09. A minute under my “I’d like but it isn’t going to happen” time. 11 minutes faster than the same course last year. Obviously a 10k PB. And the pint I had afterwards (thank you for opening early, White Swan!) was all the more delicious because of it.
Next up: possibly the York 10k (for kicks and giggles) and almost certainly the Kirkstall 7, and definitely the Scarborough 10k in October (because I’ve already paid my entry fee for that one). I am looking forwards to these. A lot.