The 18 in 2018 challenge hit Manchester this past Sunday. It was the first of 12 10km races that’s part of my challenge. It was also the first in my NSPCC vest. The Great Manchester 10k is the biggest 10k in Europe with over 30,000 runners taking part. I had a fast paced runners place, which meant I would be just behind the invited elite runners including Mo Farah. Due to them adding a half marathon, the 10k didn’t start till 13:07, it was also on TV. We are in a bit of a good spell of weather, which is great for the average Joe but if you are a runner it means no matter how good you are feeling, the conditions dictate how you perform. I’ve never been one who has performed well in anything over 5k in warm weather.
However, as there was no pressure on me time wise, I went into it more relaxed and not focused on a certain time. I won’t lie and say I didn’t have targets as I did. Like any race I try and set myself 3 targets. Discussing the race and targets with Sarah on our journey into Manchester. We arrived at 10:30 and it allowed us to chill out before the race. Sarah did a bit of celebrity spotting and then from 12 I was in my pen awaiting the start. I kept in the shade and made sure to keep hydrated. A thanks to the runningshoeguru who brought me some extra bottles of water. The build up was spent talking to other runners I knew from other races or social media, everyone having their own targets. I kept saying my goal was to race hard and finish. Based on my recent 5k performances I knew if everything clicked a sub 37 was defo a target.
After what seemed an age the elite women got underway then it was our turn, first up was a minutes silence then Oasis was played in memory of the 22 people who lost their lives in last years Manchester arena bombing. Was a lump in throat moment. Then it was game time, a goodbye to the girls and it was go time. A crazy start with a few idiots trying to get past to get up to Mo Farah. Funny thing is within 400m they had been reduced to a walk. Don’t see point in doing something so stupid, especially on a hot day! Anyway the start is downhill and crazy fast. Thankfully I was more restrained then back in 2016, letting others race off and I kept to my recent 5k tactic.
Which was to have a strong first mile then keeping it hard for next two. My aim was to get to halfway in under 18 mins and see how I was doing. After the crazy start the field thinned out and I was in a pack with a few runners I knew about 50m in front. My focus was to not let them get away. I hit the first mile in 5:24, happy with that as we hit the drag out towards Old Trafford. The heat wasn’t effecting me too much at this point and I settled into what felt like a good pace, it was a slight incline as you went up the A56. Its the opposite direction to the Manchester Marathon and while it does not look it, it does effect your pace slightly. I went through 3k in 10:30. Again I felt ok as watch soon buzzed for the 2nd mile in 5:44. Perfect so far. However I was starting to feel the heat despite the slight breeze. As we raced past the retail park we turned down towards Old Trafford, here they had changed the course, instead of going straight behind pass the stand we arched right into the car park and then a tight left turn before heading out. The turns cost me vital seconds, especially the tight turn.
The 3rd mile buzzed for 5.55, slightly annoyed at the drop of pace but I put it down to the added turns. I hit 5k in 17:55 which was my target. The route then hit it’s worse part as no support as we ran round what felt like an industrial estate, I opted to run through the shower to cool me off and made sure to take water on. The bottles were warm which didn’t help. The route did a snake with more turns and a slight climb at 7k. I found it hard between 6k and 8k, The 4th mile was 6:01 and looking back, taking water at that part of the route wasn’t too bad. It was my 5th mile that let me down, going back down the A56 I really struggled, despite catching and passing other runners. The heat was really getting to me. It was a case of just focusing on one foot in front of the other. I hit mile 5 with my slowest mile in 6:11.
I seemed to get my second wind and I passed a runner who was having a really bad day, knowing he was a sub 34 minute runner. It kinda gave me a good kick up the backside as I had been there before just wanting the race to end. I pushed on chasing other runners, I could see the railway bridge which marked the final bit, it was then the 6th mile buzzed in 6:05, so was good to have a decent 6th mile. I then kicked from 400m to go and despite finding it long on my watch I clocked 36:47 on watch. Now I was chuffed to bits with my time as I had run sub 37 and shows that training and everything is heading the right way. I think on the day had it been 5’C cooler I would have been slightly faster. Aim now is to get back under 36 minutes and try and string a few 10ks back to back under that time and then push on from there. A bit like my current 5k plan. I’ve now recorded a 17:51, 17:34 5k race, a 17:45 parkrun and a sub 18 5k split in my 10k. Aim now is to get back under 17:30 and then push on from there.
Sarah was very impressed with the Great Run app she used on her phone which tracked me the whole way round and her and Molly knew when I would finish to look out for me, it was spot on.
After the race we made our way to the charity village and was fab to meet the NSPCC north west team who was really welcoming and made my whole family feel special. After that we headed home and even watched the final wave set off.
The next race of the challenge is the Hull 10k in June. I’m hoping that this time I get the full distance unlike in 2013 when it was shortened to 9k!