It’s a solemn affair, lining up at the start of a race when you’ve properly tapered according to ‘the book’…no excuses to hide behind if you have a disappointing run.
This was supposed to be our real life trial of consecutive week 10k and half-Marathon races to see if it’s really feasible to do both at the World Masters in Malaga this September. Coach says yes, all you need to do is be careful in the 10k (the first weekend) and use it as a tune-up race and practice of running in the conditions. My concern being that, in an actual RACE, even though beginning with the most virtuous and sensible intentions, once going, the thinking bit switches off. Then something happens, maybe someone being rude as they cut in or jabbing with the elbows as they try to pass, and all of a sudden sensible is in lockdown…the scraggle-haired cavewoman within takes off like a mad thing and chases them down with a feral snarl…the end result being a hard run, whatever the advance, formulated-with-sensible-head plan had been 🙈
So the careful plan for this race was:
1) rest properly beforehand
2) run hard, as though it really matters
3) see how well we can run next week in a half-Marathon race (Edinburgh).
Let’s be clear, neither me or Uncle Planman have the slightest expectation of coming close to WINNING anything in Malaga, but being maybe 35th instead of 36th (I’ve actually no idea how many people we’re talking about, possibly 135th instead of 136th is more realistic!) would be grand for our memories, and you only get one chance at this; it would be a crying shame to not do the very best we could 😊
Dick Wedlock Memorial 10k is run by the local Fire Service and takes place on a Saturday morning in May in the beautiful, publicly owned Pollok Park in South Glasgow. When the kids were small we used to spend days at a time there; it’s such a brilliant green space with miles of paths through the woods and open gardens, they loved the herds of Highland cattle (safely inside fields!) and we went a time or two into the impressive Victorian Pollok House, stables, walled gardens etc., we even tried, unsuccessfully, to interest them Art with a visit to the Burrell Collection. The race starts over at the Bellahouston end by the allotments/riding school/golf course/rugby pitches, with changing and refreshments at the rugby club (and plenty parking!).
The route follows mostly wider roads with a loop on lesser but still tarmac’d paths between about 3-5 and 6-8k. On a roasting hot day like the one we got, the dappled shade of the tree-lined sections is delicious. There’s plenty of warm-up space round the pitches beside the rugby club and the atmosphere is cordial and informal. It seemed, at a glance around, a generally older demographic than most races nowadays and (possibly the firefighter aspect?) perhaps more male. There’s also an impressive prize list…1-3 in senior category for guests, and the same for fire fighters, then 1st 40+, 50+, 60+ guests and 1-3 for firefighters.
Before the race I asked some others what it was like. Some said ‘reasonably flat’, the rest ‘really hilly!’ 😂. Guess we have to wait and see then!
I got so focussed on trying to warm up properly (no excuses, remember?) that I forgot to scout the last half mile, which is supposed to be one of our race rules (the theory being that you know when to kick at the end), but it finishes at the start so once we started running I just tried to judge distance and imagine what it would be like running back on it…To my delight, we were slogging uphill for at least the first 500m, that meant the final push was downhill 😊
Other than where do we start and where do we finish I hadn’t paid much attention to the briefing, and almost tripped flat on my face at the first speed bump, cunningly concealed under the deep shade of the trees and unmarked by paint chevrons or any other clue…the runner next to me stumbled badly too and the memory surfaced of the race director saying to watch out for the white poles at the road side to warn of speed bumps. Once you know what to look for it’s not too bad. 15m later we heard a sickening bony crunch behind us as some other poor guy smacked into the tarmac! Both of us ran back in horror but he assured us (from the ground) that though hurt, he was unbroken, and sent us on 😧
It was hot in the sun, and though the hills weren’t huge, they were quite tough. There’s quite a long drag, twice since it’s on the loop, as you come up about 4ish (and then again 7ish) km. the water station passes twice as well, but I didn’t take water on the grounds that if I can’t run 10k in a leafy Glasgow Park I’ve NO chance of surviving a Half Marathon in Malaga, and I didn’t die of dehydration. I worried a bit that I was going too fast and wouldn’t be able to maintain it, but actually it was ok. 2k out I tried to lift the pace a bit and it was surprisingly easy…the last 500m (by a rough guesstimate – from where the downhill started really!) I really pushed it and finished fast. Final time 46:52s. A great spread of fruit offered to finishers, as well as mars bars and bottles of water, and tea or coffee in the clubhouse before the prize giving.
Did I manage to do what I set out to? Not exactly. I was supposed to be running hard but wasn’t nearly tired enough at the end, but maybe learning that – something about pace judgement – is important.
I did get a nice Dick Wedlock engraved tankard 🍺for being the first guest female 50+, as well as the printed black technical race t shirt. Not 100% sure the experiment was successful though…I probably WILL run harder in the 10k in Malaga, so missed the chance to really see if I can do that then recover fast enough for the HM 😕
More ‘Tales for a Running Niece’ here
Read more about Dick Wedlock, the athlete here