Today saw the 30th anniversary of the Swansea Bay 10k race and I’m sure the organisers were thrilled with the glorious sunshine that greeted the occasion.
The picture that my wife took below of the view across the city from St. Helen’s rugby ground – whilst I was warming up – shows perfectly what a lovely day it was.
When the weather is like this, you can see why the event is considered by many people as one of the UK’s best 10K races.
From a runner’s perspective, the only slight issue was a northerly headwind, which wasn’t overly strong thankfully. It was enough however, to make it extremely difficult for the Kenyan athletes – whom always excel at the Swansea Bay 10k – to beat the course record, and in doing so win a brand new Ford Focus. It does beg the question how they’d have got it back to Kenya though…
For me personally, I was determined to finally ‘get the monkey off my back’ and do a sub-50 minute time. The quickest I had previously done a 10k was 50 minutes and 1 seconds – which incidentally was my very first 10k back in 2001!!
I knew I’d done the hard work in training and this was really only another step along the way in my preparation for the Cardiff Half Marathon in 3 weeks time – BUT I still had to perform on the day. I’d been chomping at the bit to get started since my last training run on Friday, so now it was time to deliver.
The omens were good, I had the weather on my side and Katherine Jenkin’s was blowing the horn – see the picture below if you don’t believe me.
I’d learnt my mistake from previous years and stood nearer the front. As the constant weaving and dodging does take it’s toll and I’m sure you’d end up doing 11k rather than 10k if it was all totted up!
Anyway, the horn was blown and we were off. I was armed with my trusty Garmin Forerunner 305 to pace me to my sub-50 minute time.
However some 300 metres or so into the race, some twonk decided to cut me up and in the process knocked my right arm, resulting in my Garmin switching itself off!! OMFG
My initial reaction was (no not to give chase and thump said twonk, much as I felt like), but start the watch again.
This I realised would have been a bad move, as the 1km alert on my watch would have been out of sync with the course kilometre markers. Thankfully I managed to compose my thoughts, stop the timer and then start it at the 1km marker. Panic over.
At this point I decided to stop clock watching and to “just get on with it!”. The first 5k had gone well, but at the turn in Mumbles, the headwind kicked in and then it was really time to battle.
It’s at times like this that you really feel the benefit – both mentally and physically – of having trained hard prior to the event.
The rest of the race was pretty uneventful – apart from the cheering crowds and jazz band – until probably the last 200 metres when I caught sight of the race clock… 47 minutes 18 seconds… I couldn’t believe my eyes.
Here was an opportunity for me to break the 48 minute barrier, let alone the 50 minute one!
Spurred on by the time, I somehow managed to find the energy to muster up a sprint finish and finally after nearly 9 years of waiting, I smashed my previous personal best with a finishing time of 47 minutes and 48 seconds.
I was elated, but refrained from giving it a top-of-the-voice “get in there” whilst-punching-the-air-at-the-same-time reaction, choosing merely to grin like someone who’d seen Katherine Jenkin’s blowing the horn (again) 🙂
In all seriousness, my time is the perfect tonic and boost from which I can build on ready for my first ever half marathon in 3 weeks time. But for now I’ll just savour the moment on a job well done and in retrospect, one which has certainly been worth waiting for.
A big shout out as well to all of the other 2,800 odd people who took part in the race – well done to you all.
My parting shot is to leave you with a picture of some of the after race freebies that are given to all runners whom take part.
The customary bottle of water and bananas are missing though – which were down the hatch almost as soon as I’d received them!
Thanks to Swansea Council too for organising the event. It was as excellent as it always is and I’m already looking forward to the 2011 race.