Caius Theory

Now with even more cowbell…

Shawbury 10km 2021

RAF Shawbury host an annual 10km running race, and I entered this time because a friend suggested it as an event to aim for over the summer. Given the run is along runways/taxiways it’s going to be one of the flattest courses on offer. Seemed like a good idea at the time.

Got there with plenty of time to register, figure out where the important things—coffee & ice cream vans—were and go for a nervous wee. Decided to start a workout on my watch early, set it to 10(km, I thought) and paused it straight away to wait for the gun. Stood around for another ~5 minutes waiting for the gun to go. Unpaused the watch as I went across the line and we were off.

Started near the front of the midfield and set out at a pace that I thought was around 10:20/mile, didn’t pay too much attention to people coming past me as it was a mass start rather than paced start. Kept pace with some absolute legend running in an Elephant costume (I’d overheard they were targeting a 56 minute finish, something I later realised to be a joke.) Easy enough route, round a taxiway and down the main runway to start.

Mile in, feeling good, lots of energy. Watch buzzes the mile pace … 10:55/mile. Yeesh, that’s way slower than I meant to start, and the rolling mile display hadn’t displayed anything until I’d hit the first mile mark. Oops, time to turn the pace up slightly. Kept going until the rolling mile showed under 10:00/mile, second mile came in at 9:27/mile and then tried to keep it under 10:00/mile whilst not blowing the heart rate up too much.

Marshals around the course were lovely and supportive, although compared to a road 10km through town where people come out of their houses and cheer it felt quite quiet as an event. Seeing someone every time a corner occurred was a welcome sight though, and the water stop was quite well placed just before the halfway mark.

Hit 3.1 miles in around 31-32 minutes which was on pace, legs were feeling okay and I took some water on board whilst running. Second half of the course I started using other people to pace myself, I’d pick someone 50-100 meters ahead who didn’t appear to be vanishing from me and then try and slowly overhaul them without increasing the heart rate too much.

Around the 5 mile mark (~50 minutes) I wondered if I could be on for an hour finish. Also realised as the watch buzzed “Halfway there!” that it was set to a 10 mile run. Useful. Heart rate was creeping up to maximum, legs were starting to ache and the ball of my left foot was starting to complain about repeatedly slamming into the tarmac. Tried elongating my stride and springing off each step a bit more consciously, also hit the point of talking to myself which is a good sign I’m starting to tire and need to start concentrating on what I’m doing form-wise.

Saw the 1km board, then the 500m board and was looking for a 250m board to kick harder from. Sailed past a friend who had already finished about the 200m mark and was really trying not to blow the heart rate through the roof. Found a 150m board—complete with amusingly sarcastic comment along the lines of “ooh, time to put some effort in”—and ramped the pace up slightly. Mindful of keeping the heart rate under control still, pushed a little too high according to my stats afterwards but felt okay doing so for a few seconds.

Crossed the line with a gun time of 1:00:51. Super chuffed I nearly dipped under the 1 hour mark, expected to be around 1:04 having done a 1:06:30 cross-country 10km earlier in the summer. I really must remember not to mess around with my equipment before events though, only make changes before going for training runs because something is always setup wrong.

In this case I’d switched from kilometres to miles for running events, reset my watch yesterday so it had no music/podcasts on to listen to and also changed the display for a running workout, crucially removing the average pace of the whole activity. What I hadn’t foreseen making those changes was I’d have to wait a mile before I got any pace feedback from the watch.

I also discovered uploading straight to Strava (through Rungap) that pausing the watch ahead of time completely screws up the timings. Strava reckoned I’d done an 18:25/mile first mile! I knew it was slow, but it wasn’t that slow. Ended up exporting a GPX and removing the first 6 minutes stood around with it paused to make Strava happy about the timings.

Race on Strava