Breaking 35mins (3:30/km average) for a 10km has been a goal of mine for some time now. With COVID-19 still in full swing, finding events to test yourself at are few, thus when the offer to join a small invitational event with the Delta run crew I jumped at the opportunity. Some of the best runners within Sydney are part of the Delta run crew and so I was grateful for an invitation. With many runners much faster than me, the opportunity provided all the motivation and people to chase that I’d need to reach my goal.
They split the 10km run time trial into 3 waves. Wave 1: <40mins, wave 2: <37mins and wave 3: <34mins. Wave 1 set off with a 3 minute handicap, and wave 2 a 2 minute handicap on wave 3. I was in wave 2 and had a mini goal to try to not get caught by wave 3 (I can dream)! With little fanfare we were off and running. Quickly I slotted in step with a small lead group, and as the pace settled, I looked at the average pace and saw 3:25/km. It felt comfortable, but it was only the first kilometre and there was 9 to go. Before the run I wondered whether I could go under 34mins, but looking at this early split I decided it was highly unlikely and just to focus on trying to break 35. The next kilometre passed in 3:27.9, cementing the idea that 34mins was not an option.
The front pack was 3 of us, and we took turns taking the lead if someone slowed slightly. I was working but feeling very much in control. The next kilometre passed in 3:26, and the next in 3:25. 4km mark and my mind wanted to wander, but I brought it back to the task at hand, ‘don’t slack off now, stay strong’ I reminded myself. The fast guys from wave 3 came flying past, ‘oh well there goes any chance of holding them off’ I thought. As each kilometer passed, I’d started adding up the seconds I was ahead of target, giving me confidence about breaking 35 minutes.
The 3 of us stayed together over the next 3km, the pace was even knocking each kilometre off in 3:25.
I glanced at the 7km split and saw 24mins flat. Some quick math and I determined if I ran 3:20s for the next 3km I could do 34mins. It was getting hard, but I was still in control. I thought it’s only 10mins, so I went for it. One of our trio was spat out the back as the next kilometre passed in 3:22. Now I need to run 3:18 or better for the final kilometre I thought, that’s okay I’ll be able to do it when I see that finish line.
The penultimate kilometre involves going up and over a bridge at the regatta centre. I was pushing hard, just under 3:20 pace as I knew my pace would drop going up the hill. Sure enough, I slowed into the 3:40s climbing up the rise, and the remaining competitor I was duelling with drew up beside me. I’ve always been good at letting go on the downhill (a skill I learnt in primary school it was the way to not get caught when playing tag). I pushed myself to not get passed before the path narrowed on the downhill so I could maximise gravity. We passed the 9km mark, the kilometre split was a little slow in 3:23.
My calves were aching, but this was it, I believed I could break 34 minutes. A minute passed, and I was aware of myself just sitting back into pace. ‘No! you’ve come so far, lets go for it!’ I tried to kick, as there was less than 700m to go. I was pushing as hard as I could, but the pace was overwhelming me. I glanced at my watch and estimated only 40 seconds to go, I considered just cruising in, after all I was going to smash my PB and go well under 35mins. But what if I finish 34:01-02? Wouldn’t I be annoyed, if I knew I could have done more? The thoughts raced through my head, but my choice was clear.
My legs wouldn’t respond to what I wanted to do, so I drove my pace with my arms. I felt like a madman, and I couldn’t get my breath, but it must be less than 20secs to go now. ‘Don’t give up!’ I considered looking at the watch but scratched that idea, if I was going to get under 34, it would take everything I had. I could now see the finish only 30m ahead, although I was waiting for my Garmin to tick over, as it’s all about Strava in a virtual race right? Those last few seconds just seemed to linger on and on waiting for the beep. It finally came, and I was done.
My 10km split read 33:59 and then disappeared. Was I seeing things? Did I just do that?! I stopped my watch and collapsed on the grass somewhat surprised and extremely satisfied. I still couldn’t breathe, but that would settle soon. I couldn’t believe it, admittedly it’s a quick course with no u-turns, and flat. Conditions were perfect with next to no wind and cool but not too cold temperatures. With an excellent field to push me along, I couldn’t ask for a better environment to set a personal best.
Some stats from the run.
I’ve done very little running at this pace ever, and after struggling with multiple injuries my build has consisted mostly aerobic work and more recently a weekly tempo brick session. I did 2 track sessions leading up to this 10km event to help prepare to run faster, and it’s something I want to do more of. However, with managing swim, bike, and run I feel it’s always better to take it easier and be consistent than always trying to fit the hard sessions in. After all consistency is king with any form of endurance.