It was a hot race, but was it too hot to prevent me going sub-40 minutes? Read to find out.
Last Sunday morning, 2nd July 2023, I ran the Humpty Dumpty 10k. As per my pre-race article, this was a 10 km road race organised by Great Yarmouth & District Athletic Club, and was the 9th event of the 2023 Sportlink Grand Prix calendar. For me, the only concern was if the course and weather would be favourable to accomplish the goal of breaking my personal record and completing the 10km race in under 40 minutes.
Upon awakening, I checked the weather forecast. It was still indicating sunny intervals with a temperature of 17/18° C for the event. However upon leaving home, the car was already reading 17° C. As I drove towards the venue I was wishing for the temperature display not to move, but it did. Just flipping to 19° C about 30 minutes before the starting gun. At least it is cloudy, I thought to myself, and I set off for the start line.
I could feel the heat of the sun on the back of my neck.
As I lined up waiting for the off, the clouds cleared and the sun began to shine. I could feel the heat of it on the back of my neck, and overheard a group of runners discussing, given how rapidly it was warming up, that they would be happy with a time of around 41 minutes and going sub-40 was not viable for today. “I disagree, I can do it”, I told myself.
I continued to focus on my target 4:00 min/km pace, and waited for the starting gun.
Following a short pre-race speech, we were off. The first few hundred metres were a gentle uphill, followed by a flat stretch to the first kilometre marker. I was feeling good and kept my pace in check so as not to go out too fast, passing the split at 3:58.
The second kilometre was even flatter than the first and keeping my pace under control I covered it in a pace of 3:59 min/km. I was now 3 seconds ahead of schedule, and feeling comfortable.
I could feel the temperature starting to rise, but felt very much in control.
At this point, to my surprise, a faster friend crept up on my shoulder. He must have started much further back in the corral than me. We ran alongside each other for the 3rd kilometre, hitting the split in a 4:02 time. Now 1 second ahead, I could feel the temperature starting to rise, but felt very much in control.
The route turned a sharp corner, and we then hit a short but farily steep downhill. I took advantage and let myself fall down the hill, hitting a top speed of just under 3:30 min/km. As we all know, ‘what goes down, must go up’, and it was not long before we did, and for a short stretch I was forced to a 5:00 min/km relative crawl. Once back on level ground the 4th kilometre marker was in sight, crossing it at 16:08. That hill had lost me 9 seconds…
The run to the half-way point was a gentle uphill with a slight gusty headwind. I hit the 5 kilometre marker at 20:12, where I only just realised that my friend was no longer by my side. I was definitely starting to feel warm now. Only 5 km to go, I told myself, I can do this.
I was now only 4 seconds behind schedule.
The next two kilometres were basically flat and I managed to make up 8 seconds, hitting 7 kilometres in a time of 28:04. I was now only 4 seconds behind schedule.
The start of the 8th kilometre was not so kind, presenting me with a hill to be climbed. I forced myself up, but it cost valuable seconds. With 2 kilometres to go I was back to 12 seconds behind schedule. I was certainly feeling hot at this point, but pushed on knowing that in around 8 minutes it would all be over.
The 9th kilometre was more forgiving, with a gentle downhill, and I covered it in a time of 3:54. I was now just 6 seconds behind schedule with only 1 kilometre to go. My face was starting to burn with the heat, but the words ‘I can do this!’ were repeating in my head, as I began the final kilometre.
The fabled ‘what goes down, must go up’ hit me in my already very red face.
There was then another 100 metres of gentle decline before turning a bend. And at the bend the fabled ‘what goes down, must go up’ hit me in my already very red face. I tried my hardest, but my pace slowed and slowed. I could see the race head-quarters, but it just did not seem to be getting any closer. At 39:20 the road leveled off and I did my best to pick up the speed again, but I knew that it was too late. I entered the final straight, already at 40 minutes and ran as fast as I could to the finish line. My watch recorded 40:24, a perfect even-split race.
I slowly gathered my breath and waited for my friend. The heat had gotten to him just before the 5 km point, forcing him to slow down in the second half of the race.
At 40:23, my official time was 1 second quicker than my watch time. This is only 3 seconds slower than my personal record, and my second fastest 10 km ever.
Below is a table illustrating the various predictions for my race, along with their error from my actual performance.
|Algorithm||Predicted Pace (min/km)||Predicted Time (mm:ss)||Error (seconds)||Error (percent)|
|Riegel (6 min Assessment)||4:37||46:10||+ 347||+ 14.3 %|
|Riegel (3.2 km Assessment)||4:20||43:20||+ 177||+7.3 %|
|Running Watch||4:13||42:09||+ 106||+ 4.4 %|
|Athlete Data Analysis Platform||4:07||41:09||+ 46||+ 1.9 %|
|Riegel (10 km Race)||4:06||41:04||+ 41||+ 1.7 %|
|TrainAsONE||4:03||40:26||– 3||– 0.1 %|
Once again, the Riegel estimates based upon my assessment runs were highly inaccurate, predicting much slower finishing times than performed.
TrainAsONE’s prediction was only 3 seconds out.
All the other predictions were within 5 %, with TrainAsONE only being 3 seconds out, with an error of 0.1 %.
As with my previous race, the conditions were on the warm-side, and I’m sure that had an effect on my performance. On returning to the car, the temperature was apparently 22° C, and so I would place a conservative race temperature as being 20° C. If it had been 16° C, TrainAsONE calculates that I would have been 33 seconds faster, completing the race in a time of 39:50.
Whilst it is a little annoying not to have gone under 40 minutes, it is not a disappointment. I believe I gave the race a good performance, with a well paced split. I did my best on the day, and I’m certainly a lot faster than this time last year.
The comments from other runners with regards to how the heat affected their performance, and the adjustment calculation indicate that I am capable of running under 40 minutes. My current fitness just means that there is no wriggle-room, and conditions need to be (near-) perfect. This status quo will change. I still have more ‘fitness in me’ and at some point I’ll be running a race where the conditions are favourable. Unfortunately, it does not look like it will be this year as that was the last of the 10 km races within the Sportlink Grand Prix.
Unbelievably, my next race is tomorrow night! The Wroxham 5k – time to get my head into ‘5k’ mode…
As ever, a big thank you to the race organisers, volunteers and all those involved. A great race. Thank you.
Till next time.