The smell of fear…

Today was the second ever Run Norwich 10k event. It’s a race I entered some time ago after having completed the inaugural race last year. It’s a great race with a great atmosphere. It’s in my home city and this year there were around 4500 people competing. It’s also one where the organisers have learned a thing or two since last time.

Previously there were a few issues with the course design, but this year I think they’ve really nailed it. There were none of the bottlenecks on the course that existed last year and the course took a really nice (if slightly hilly!) route around the roads of Norwich city centre.

Interestingly though, the sights and sounds of the event were not the thing that stood out for me today. Instead, it was the smells.

Cooped up in the starting pen, it was the rather unpleasant pong of stale sweat which was no doubt emanating from someone who had warmed up in an over enthusiastic manner. Then, once the race was done, there was the horrendous hum of fried onions and cheap burgers coming from the burger van in the athletes village. These two nasty niffs assailed the nostrils and were a slightly odd thing to come away with as a memory of the day.

Somewhere in between these two stink fests, there was a race to be run. Beforehand, I was a bit concerned that I’d not done enough running recently. Because of my fears, I decided to treat this as a training run for my trail marathon in October, but wouldn’t you know it? I got sucked into the pace of those around me and went off too fast. There wasn’t really a race plan today. I wasn’t chasing a PB or fast time. I was just looking to complete the run in one piece without getting injured and without doing anything really stupid. They say stupid is as stupid does: I latched onto those around me without really thinking about heart rate, or target pace and just pushed pretty hard from the outset. Stupid boy…

Nikki and my kids, Lily and Oscar were there to cheer me on and I needed to be on the lookout for them and the lovely hand crafted sign Lily had made to spur me on. I saw them all cheering and waving about 400m from the start which was great.

The first 5k or so passed quickly. The weather was warm, but not excessively so. A breeze was taking the edge off the temperature so despite feeling warm, it also felt quite pleasant.  By 8k, my initial pace was starting to cost me. I struggled through 8k to 9k, but in the final kilometre, I pushed hard. Perhaps too hard. Coming down the final 400m, my breathing was as ragged as an asthmatic bear with a heavy cold, but I was determined to go for a sprint finish and I took great pleasure in overtaking a bunch of people right at the end of the race.

I wheezed my way across the finish line in a respectable 47:34 which is my second best 10k time according to Strava. Thank you Run Norwich – I’ll take it.

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