Another weekend means another race! Two weeks prior to one of the most poorly run events I had ever encountered (I didn’t even get into the health and safety issues I had on that one). Victoria and I got to run in the Laganside 10km race in sunny Belfast (not a lie it was quite lovely). Here are some thoughts about the race and how it went for me!
Laganside 10km is organised by a running club in Belfast called North Belfast Harriers. A very good club who obviously know what there are doing as the race now almost always sells out and has at least 1500 participants! For a race in Northern Ireland, I would say that is pretty good! The race starts and finishes in Ormeau Park and takes in two laps of the Lagan Embankment so for a good 90% of the race, you are not running near vehicles, which is always a good thing as you do worry about being so slow that they have to reopen the road… Didn’t happen to me this time! Ha! Anyway…
Everything is marked well and you collect your number at the nearby bowling club. The only negative thing I can think to say about the event is the lack of toilets. Yes there are some at the bowling club and the public toilets for the park are there, but it was painfully obvious more was needed as apart from the 1500 runners, they were bringing family members. So there was the good chance that 3000 were in the park at one time and the likelihood of everyone needed the loo pre-race is high! Always high! To prove this fact Victoria joined an already long queue for the ladies as I went to collect our numbers. I was in there for a good while and walked the 2 or 3 minutes back. I was gone maybe 15 minutes at the least and Victoria had only gotten to the actual building of the bathroom.
The queue for the ladies was very long, whereas the gent’s toilets had barely a queue. We were nice and early so we had no rush, but as time got on and the start got closer and closer, that queue did not subside. Ladies were even trying to get into the gents because they knew they wouldn’t make the start on time if they waited. Victoria later told me two of the cubicles were out of order, thus the logjam. But, as I said, to me that was the only negative of the race. And when that is one of the only things you can think of to fault an organiser, it is obvious they did a good job.
As mentioned it was a two lap course, and a very popular running route with runners and cyclists as part of the route is part of a 20 + mile long towpath. It is very flat but has a lot of long sections. For example, the two embankment sections get close to 1 mile each and are just endless (or what felt like it on the last lap) bends until you get back into the park. A PB is very doable there and I would be surprised if a lot of people did not get one.
My race was to go a little differently from a PB as you may know I have gained weight and had fallen off the running horse (treadmill I guess is the right word for that phrase) so currently I won’t be getting near a PB at any distance for at least another year. I am really using these races as training for the Belfast half marathon at the end of September. But they don’t always go to plan…
We started off well, but I noticed Victoria was feeling a bit more comfortable than myself so I tried not to push it. But when your average 10k this summer is 1:08:00 you know you aren’t in for a quick one. As I said Victoria was going so well that I didn’t have the heart to tell her before 2k that I was struggling a tad with her 6:00 km pace. I had hoped I would be able to adjust and stick with it, but she slowed down for me a little bit and I felt a tad bad for it, so I kept trying to get our pace back up and that was my mistake as after we snuck past 3k I got a sneaky little stitch and it wouldn’t go away, so I told her to go on as she was running really well and that I would continue on alone. I feel both sad and proud during these times as it shows how well she become as a runner and just how poorly my fitness levels are.
I feel I am at the end of the hard times with my pace and probably need to remember to just stick to my pace and let Victoria go earlier. But part of me really likes going fast with her as I think I definitely improve with that challenge of keeping up/pacing her. We will see what next week holds if I do something similar in Larne for their 10 km. She starts off a bit too quick sometimes, so me being there to reign her in a little so the rest of the race is okay for her is kind of my aim as I am almost not counting this year results wise. This year is almost for me to get back into things and then progress back to how I was in 2019.
When I got going again I slowed that pace down and stuck with a few other runners. Sadly I had to walk a couple of times, but there were lots of silly reasons for that. Along the course, we went and the marshals were fantastic as all marshals are. But that little group and I plugged away and eventually I saw the opportunity in the last half a kilometre to overtake and just push on hard. I always get annoyed that in races in which I am struggling in, I still always have the energy for the kick. Quite annoying, but at least I look like I finish great!
After the race, I grabbed all the fruit that was on offer and there was plenty on offer, bananas, oranges and melons. I enjoy those kinds of treats. When we finished we realised that Paula Radcliffe was also at the race and we heartily joked that because she never passed us, that we must have beat her (though I assume she was at the front while we were in the middle back)
I think we were a little disappointed not to get a picture with her, but we had to go and get some food to eat!
I am excited for next year because I will be faster and I fully intend to get it under 55 minutes this time next year. I quite miss being able to run consistently fast and hopefully by the end of next year I will be able to sneak back under 50 minutes. One can only hope! I fully suggest that if you are wanting to complete a 10k for the first time, that you attend this race. It is so flat and easy to navigate and due to the families of other competitors, very well supported. See you next year Laganside10k!