Race 5 of 12 – Great Manchester 10k

This wasn’t originally part of the plan of races to compete in. Not for any reason other than I was busy on this particular weekend (stag do), its a fairly difficult race to get into and its not cheap by any stretch of the imagination.

However, I do really enjoy this race. As previously mentioned this was my first ever race back in 2006 so I’ll always have fond memories of it and its place in getting me started in the sport of running. Its a fantastically well organised event, especially when you consider the number of runners taking part, and its definitely an event I’d recommend for new runners to target – its much more than a 10k with the amount of support, the sights and the loud music on the course.

Further to this Manchester really has shown how to excel in putting on types of events with the Great Swim taking place shortly afterwards, followed by the StreetGames later in the day – just a shame the weather couldn’t have been better on this particular day.

So onto the race itself. After a weekend of drinking excesses I wasn’t really sure what pacing strategy to adopt – the fact I’d made the start line was fairly impressive, completing the course would be an added bonus. I also didn’t want to go all out as I needed to preserve myself for Edinburgh Marathon this coming weekend. I decided I’d just run to feel and decide at half way what the plan of action would be. After not really looking at my watch I clocked an 8m 51s 1st mile – although admittedly it felt like I was running faster than that. I’d deliberately decided not to weave in and out the crowds to get past people – and was actually quite surprised to see how far some people were actually zig-zagging to get past people, wondering if they’d clock up 10 miles by the end of the course.

Mile 2 came and without without adventure, another 8m 51s. The elevation chart doesn’t represent it terribly well, but the opening 2 miles of this course always seem to be gently heading uphill.

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At this point in the course Old Trafford (the home of Manchester United) is a welcome distraction, although I have to say I preferred the course when you actually got to run under the stadium concourse rather than just past the MegaStore end. At this point the crowds seemed to thin quite significantly and I managed to record a just outside 8 minute mile. The 5km halfway point marker came round and I had 27 minutes on watch – and using my frazzled brain I quickly calculated that I’d be round in 54 minutes. I decided to push on the next 2 miles and see what happened, silently aiming for a sub 50 minute finish time, but resigned to the fact it probably wouldn’t happen.

I can never really remember this part of the course. I can remember wondering if the DJ in the white van at around the 6.5/7k marker had drawn the short straw in the office on the Friday. The Bupa ‘Boost’ Zone at 8.5k came round quicker than expected, but didn’t seem quite as loud as I was hoping. A final little push, really enjoying moving past quite a lot of people at this stage and I was secretly hoping to beat 48 mins 50 secs (the fastest recorded 10k time I’ve ever had, although subsequently it turned out the course was about 500m short), but actually ended up crossing the line in 49m 50s – I needed an extra push when realising how close to missing the sub 50 I actually was.

No real pictures from me in the post as I had no camera. The only on-course photos of me seem to be near the finish line when I’m too busy looking at my watch – apologises to the girl next to me whos race photo finish I’ve probably ruined! There are plenty of other photos of the day on the Internet, starting with the BBC.

So all in all a terrific day out. I’m surprised at how fast I was able to run the second half of the course (something like 22 minutes) and its given me a target of a sub 45 minute 10k before the end of the year. I’m still not certain about the regime of drinking alcohol and having severe lack of sleep in the run up to races though – think I’ll stick to sleep, water and Lucozade for the build up to Edinburgh this week.

What I am certain off is that we’re already making plans for next years race, adopting it as a regular weekend away – firstly to see some friends in the North, but secondly to take advantage of this fantastic event/day in Manchester.

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