My first proper race!

The Saucony 10k – Chelmsford

How on earth did I get to enter my first race? Well, it was quite easy really. I had been running for a year or so, and had not long attempted and completed my first 10k run/jog. And I remember thinking “that was easy enough”. (Seriously, sometimes I am my own worst enemy).

I looked online for local races, and found that in 3 weeks time there was the Chelmsford Saucony 10k – all runners welcome. Brilliant. I printed off the registration form and sent it off with my cheque!

Remember I had only run 10k once, and I had 3 weeks until the race, less than 3 weeks now.


I continued my regular training, hitting the roads 3 mornings per week with a 5k and I ran a 10k on the Saturdays with a quick 5k on the Sundays.

The thing was, the race was on a Sunday, so I didn’t train on the Saturday before as I was reserving energy. My last run before the race was on the Thursday, I was concerned I would injure myself and therefor not be able to compete, and I was determined to run.

All in all I had ran 10k a grand total of 3 times before entering a 10k race. In hindsight probably not enough.

Before the race.

I remember the morning of the race, I was fidgety, I kept looking at the time (the race started at 2pm), I was ready to go at 12pm. My wife said to me, “why don’t you just go, get there and relax a bit?” Wise words. So off I went.

My palms were clammy, was I actually ready for this? I knew I was. Only an hour of my life,  perhaps less, perhaps? Hopefully less, I didn’t want to finish last, what if I finished last? Would everyone laugh at me? Did I have the right kit on, had I remembered to put pants on? (It was a road race, and the roads were not shut off to traffic, what if I got hit by a car, always wear clean pants right?)….god I hadn’t even got in the car yet and I was bloody nervous.

I arrived at the venue and there were lots of people milling about, talking, laughing, stretching all looking relaxed. I was alone and bricking myself. I went to register, then walked to the changing rooms. Loads of others getting changed, I got my kit on, pinned my number on (number 74), at that point I felt really really nervous. I had a number, as did everyone around me. This was race day. 300-400 people in a race. Nervous. So very nervous.

Take your marks.

We all started walking to the start line (about a ten minute walk away). I joined a friendly couple and their daughter in nervous chat and laughter, it was her first race too (I had to beat her – bloody competitive edge in me).

Wifey and the boys arrived at the start line to see me off, this helped a lot, I calmed down and kissed them all goodbye, and took my place amongst the masses. Only an hour (or less) right? I needed the loo…

Now then, my best time for running 10k was 58 minutes 25 seconds – and that was my target for today, under an hour.

The gun went off, I heard “good luck daddy” from wifey and the boys and off I ran.

The course.

Hmm how best to describe the course? Country lanes, tight bends, cold, sunny, oh and hilly. Bloody hilly. And no music. This would be my first run without my music to listen to, no pace setting music, nothing to help me focus. That’s Health and Safety for you.

The race.

I started OK I think. I felt alright, tried to settle in a bit. Just after the first mile marker the chap I had been talking to before the race ran past and said “good start, 8 minutes for the first mile” and off he went.

Hang on. 8 minutes? I was going too fast. My average pace was about 9 minutes 30. I tried to slow a little, but each time I did, I saw someone else to overtake (I told you I was competitive). I was annoying myself.

All I could hear was breathing, panting and gasping (not just me). It was terribly distracting. Coming up to 2 miles I wanted stop and go home. Fact.

Just before 3 miles my calf muscles decided enough was enough and they didn’t want to play anymore, they seized up a bit. I stopped running and walked for 20 seconds, got overtaken by 3 people and began running again. The fact I had been overtaken spurred me on to keep going.

At 4 miles I checked my watch for the first time, it read 30 minutes 14 seconds. What the f…? I had been running at break neck speed (for me anyway). No wonder my calves had left me and gone home! That worked out roughly at 7 minutes 30 seconds per mile. I was way too quick for my own good.

I stopped running. I walked for a bit and did a quick calculation. I wanted to finish in under an hour. My calves were killing me. I had done 4 miles in half an hour, I had about 2 and a bit miles to go, and I had half hour to do it. I was going to achieve my goal.

I started running again, at a slower pace. The hills were agony, I was overtaken by quite a few people, but I was now enjoying it. My legs stopped aching, and I was really enjoying it. I noticed people along the road were cheering and waving at all the runners – had they been doing that the whole race?

The 6 mile marker was lovely, I nearly stopped to give it a great big hug, but kept on going. People who had finished already were walking past me heading home, I didn’t have far to go. I kept on.

Round a little bend up into the athletics stadium onto the running track and there was the finish line, and bugger me, there was Wifey and the boys clapping and cheering me on. God it was wonderful to see them, I was very emotional at that part, fortunately they never got to see me wipe away a little tear after I had crossed the line.

Crossed the line. Did you read that bit? I crossed the line. I finished the race and in a pretty good time too, I did it in 53 minutes and 43 seconds. I knocked 5 minutes off of my personal best.

I was elated. I was pumped. I wanted to run it again. I wanted to give wifey and the boys a big hug. What an amazing feeling, those of you who have done it will know what I am talking about.

You can see all the results here. I was position 230 out of 329.

Not bad for my first race.

I wonder what it feels like to complete a Marathon..?