10KAnyWay blog – Race Day!

Our own Vavista team member Emily has been following the Vavista 10KAnyWay 12-week programme in preparation for running the Bristol Simplyhealth 10K race in May. Read on to find out how her training is going and how she gets on in the last four weeks leading up to the race!

What a day! I can hands down say that never in a million years did I think I would enter a 10k running race and actually enjoy the experience of training and racing but here I am – I’ve had such a good time.

Race Day started at 7.30am for me with a nervous excitement breakfast of some peanut butter toast and half a banana – in hindsight I would have eaten a bit more for maximum energy but the anticipation definitely got the better of me! It was a glorious sunny day and walking down through Bristol to the start was amazing, there were people everywhere with numbers, trainers, families and dogs and the closer to the centre I got, the more the atmosphere started to buzz.
Millennium Square was absolutely packed with people but testament to how well organised Great Run UK are, everything was very well organised and signposted with stewards keeping everyone moving. I met Georgia and we walked round to the pink wave, which is where we were starting. We purposely got a spot right at the front of the pink wave so we could avoid anyone who would be walking without holding up anyone in the faster waves ahead of us. The atmosphere was just incredible and as each wave started ahead of us, we inched our way closer and closer to the start line. Finally, we did a 10 second countdown, the klaxon sounded and we were off!

We set off at a good pace and got to the 5k marker without any issues – everyone always says you run faster on race day and this was definitely true as we were just behind the 1 hour pacemaker up until about 4 kilometres! The route takes you down a straight road underneath the Suspension Bridge and as we turned round at the end, we were not only faced with the mental challenge of having to run back down the road we’d just been down, but the sun was really beaming down right into our faces at this point. Luckily the water stop was along this side and it couldn’t have come soon enough – it definitely wasn’t as hot as it has been but it was a good 18 degrees and when you’re trying to run you feel the heat even more.

We kept going back towards the city centre with hundreds of supporters lining the roads and shouting runner’s names out for encouragement, such a massive boost! At around 7.5k, I started to really struggle, the road was slightly uphill straight into the sun and it was SO hot – at this point I really felt that fact I hadn’t eaten much breakfast and the heat was completely sapping my energy. Georgia was feeling the same way so we walked for a couple of minutes until we reached the 8k marker to let our bodies regain some energy for the last few kilometres.

Running back into the city centre for the last two kilometres was a surreal experience; mentally pushing myself to keep running while feeling exhausted was really hard but the support from the crowd was just incredible. Running back past the water one of the stewards told us we had 200 metres to go and the surge of adrenaline was unlike anything I’ve felt before – I forgot about my legs hurting and how tired I felt and my entire focus was on reaching that finish line.

Finishing the race and crossing the line still running was the absolute best feeling. We were so proud of ourselves and even more so when we discovered we completed it in 1 hour, 4 minutes and 50 seconds, 10 minutes faster than what we thought we would do! We collected our medal and t shirt for finishing and we were so happy – running with Georgia is great as we run at a similar pace and know how to keep each other going having trained together for it for so long!
Looking back on the day reflectively feels a bit like I’m looking back at a different person, I went through a long period of not really exercising much at all while at university having been very active in my teenage years and the effects were showing weight-wise, as well as obviously not being very healthy in general! I trained to do a 5k last year and managed a good time but still walked a bit so this is the first time I’ve managed to train to the point of being able to run longer distances and keep running. The 10KAnyWay programme was such a massive help in this, just having the structure so I knew what to do each training session to improve meant I felt guided but in control at the same time. The mental hurdles I have to jump in my head to keep going when I start make me feel stronger mentally as I know I have the physical capability and to have completed a 10k race makes me feel so proud of myself! I wouldn’t call myself an athlete but I can run 10k and I wasn’t even remotely close to being able to do that 5 months ago.

The rest of the day was spent relaxing at home and nursing my aching muscles and telling myself I was looking forward to not having to run again for a bit – fast forward a day and we’re already talking about entering at least two more races this summer! The whole atmosphere and sense of achievement is definitely addictive and I’m looking forward to keeping up my running fitness for the next races (can’t believe I just said that!)