Ironically, I also came in 98th place overall!
There are so many ways this race worked for me. I was due for a 75 minute easy/steady run OR a 10km race for this week’s long run; the Arbroath Academy PTA 10km coincidentally fell on this date. Naturally, I entered it, along with my other lady friends from our running group. After running a few progression runs in training, my only goal in this race was to make this another progression run, (or negative split run), where each mile is faster than the last, and the second half of the race is faster than the first.
After a very early Sunday morning alarm of 6:45 am, a smoothie/coffee/water breakfast, and bag packed with extra clothes (just in case it got colder or wetter), jellybabies, water, and a peanut butter-honey sandwich, I was off to Laurencekirk to meet my running group ladies. We got rid of a few cars and made our way down to Arbroath, home of the Arbroath Abbey, famous for its association with the Declaration of Arbroath, where Scotland’s nobles swore independence from England, and famous local Smokies or smoked haddock.
We arrived with plenty of time for a few performance-enhancing toilet breaks and a warm-up run and stretch. The Academy itself was buzzing, however there were only 116 entrants to the day’s race, and ironically, they still didn’t have enough medals for everyone, (or so we were told my the event organisers). After a quick briefing, we were off!
The race started at the Academy gates, then took an immediate left onto a residential street, where you ran around a block and out to the Seaton Road. We passed the other side of the Academy, then began a steady 3 mile, slightly undulating climb into the countryside. The route was an out-and-back route, with a water station at the half way point and top of the hill. At the very start, my Garmin read about 8:36 pace; normally, the naive race brain of mine would say ‘Awesome pace, keep it up!’ only to tire out by mile 3 then run the rest of the race playing catch up, but failing miserably. This race would be different though, and I had to make a conscious effort to slow down to almost a minute slower, especially to conserve energy to make it up the hills.
My intended plan for this race was to run mile 1 at around 9:40 pace, mile 2 at 9:30-ish pace, mile 3 at 9:20-ish pace, mile 4 at 9:15 pace, mile 5 at sub-9:10 pace, and mile 6 at sub-9:00 pace. Once I began the ascent though, I realised if I tried to maintain those paces, there was a great chance I would tire too quickly and not have enough to finish strong. I would have to run threshold paces uphill for triple the time durations I’d done in training, and although I’ve learned much valuable information about running, pacing, speed and my abilities during this cycle, I was fairly certain that 3 miles of constant running uphill at threshold pace would probably drain me too much. So I stuck to a slower pace, which felt like threshold anyway because it was uphill, and still passed half a dozen people or so as I climbed higher and further out of Arbroath.
Twenty minutes in, we began to see the lead pack heading back into town. I shouted many Well done!‘s to people and gave some thumbs up too. I would want people to do that for me and I also think it’s important to positively recognise other runner’s abilities, and to be supportive. I also saw Amy and Wendy, the fastest runners out of us ladies, and shouted ‘You’re in the top 20 [females]!’ as we passed each other.
The half way point and water station came quickly. I grabbed a cup of water to moisten my mouth, then began to increase my pace for what I thought would be a descent back into town. As I mentioned, it was more of an undulating course overall, and every time I thought I could turn on the speed down a hill, I’d look ahead to see another hill that required an uphill climb. I also got a very bad stitch briefly, but managed to run and breathe it away. I pushed on but maintained a conservative pace until the undulation stopped and there was only downhill left.
Despite this still slower pace, I was still running aggressively. Ahead of me were two ladies, both alike in dress with dark pink tshirts and black capri tights; I made it my goal to overtake them both by the end of the race. One made it very easy for me: she kept stopping to walk on the way out and back, and during one of her many walking breaks, I sailed passed. I kept the next lady in my sights all the way back into town, where I knew that the race was literally all downhill. My Garmin beeped 5 miles, which was my cue to pick up the pace. Lady #2 and I raced for about 30 feet until I passed her and kept trudging on. I caught up with a guy who was also run-walking, and with my Garmin reading 5.63 miles, I told him ‘C’mon, only half a mile left!’. He began running with me and we stuck together until the 6 mile point, when he stopped to jog and I pulled ahead for my final sprint. My pace was well below nine minutes and my effort could’ve been described as ‘very breathless.’ I crossed the finish line and the timing woman exclaimed ‘#98 is also in 98th place!’. I stopped my Garmin, and was handed my usual Sweatshop goody bag. Race #7 of the year was done. I’d run the Arbroath PTA 10km in 58:31. Not a personal best in terms of time, but definitely a personal best when it comes to negative splits and pacing.
|Kinda stuck to my race plan…
With a 250 foot ascent and descent, the Arbroath 10km is a bit of a challenge, even if you train with hills all the time. Never once did I think about stopping to walk, like so many others had, and in this respect, I was very confident in my ability and fitness, and just trusted my training. I also didn’t have any visits from race demons with their negative thoughts. I think because I had set a pacing goal rather than time goal, my focus was more towards getting progressively faster rather than getting a fast time, and this definitely distracted any pressure-filled, negative thoughts. This gives me a boost of confidence leading up to the Aviemore half marathon in two weeks!!!!! (I’m so excited for my first 13.1!)
We took a group photo with our race hardware, then headed home to showers, food and rest.
Have you run the Arbroath 10km before?
Do you prefer out-and-back routes or loops?
What are your current race goals?