I set my 10km road PB back in February 2006 at the renowned flat course in Bourton-on-the-Water during the height of marathon training. 33:14 for a 20 year old in perfect conditions... not bad going. But then 33:14 came to haunt me... I just couldn't break it; I'd get injured (early 2007), get a stitch (Sherston 10k 2007), turn to marathon aspirations (2008), and then get another stitch (Vancouver Sun Run 2009).
During this time Bourton was ridiculed as being short by many athletes, although the deadpan flat and wind-less out and back course on fantastic country lanes was naturally quick and a good group of guys could speed round in double quick time, helping each other out in the knowledge that this was a special place to run.
2009's Bourton 10k was taken off the record books following unnaturally quick times, including an incredible 32:32 for Alyson Dixon. Midland Counties asked for the course to be re-measured and it came in 110m short. Ouch! Whether 2006 used exactly the same course is another matter, but it still haunted me... that is until one day after my 24th birthday.
The Stroud AC 10k champs was meant to be a strictly club affair in the local village of Cherington, however due to some tenuous connections (going to school in the town and training with the Stroud guys) the organisers turned a blind eye to both myself and good mate and GB under 23 x-country star Tom Russell, who left his homeclub to run for Bristol and West AC.
It was decided the day before on Facebook that Tom would run round in a very steady 33mins as a tempo, well within his capabilities, and the rest of us would hang on in for as long as we could. Over a testing course I thought 33:14 was probably out of reach, and sure enough the remnants of a passing storm left breezy conditions out on the country roads. Anyway, to hell with it, with nothing to lose both Julian (Judd) Hough and I decided to have a crack at it.
Mile 1: 5:10 flat / felt pretty good and I pushed Tom on to run a bit faster
Mile 2: 4:56 flat-downhill / took on mile two but was shocked at the mile split
Mile 3: 5:24 uphill-flat / Judd and Tom came storming past on the hill to Rodmarton
Mile 4: 5:20 undulating / Pushed back past Judd, Tom came with me to help out
Mile 5: 5:14 undulating / Tom sheltering me from the wind as we headed for home
Mile 6: 5:31 uphill-flat / final long uphill hurt like hell, but stayed strong and opened up
Finish: 1:11 undulating / (4:46 miling) nice kick for home, really pleased with it
Wow! On a seriously undulating and windy course I knocked 23 seconds off the PB and dipped under 33 minutes for the first time. Both Tom and I were wearing our Garmins and clocked the mile markers to within 0.01 accuracy and both had 6.22 miles showing at the finish - awesome! On a fast flat course I reckon there's another sizable chunk to come off that.
My incredible thanks to Tom for pacing me around, sheltering me from the wind and dragging me up the hills. Fantastic to have someone of his calibre working for us out there, and I will have to repay the favour in beer at Christmas! The Mince Pie run on Christmas Eve is going to be special!
Right off to bed. Am heading to Hamburg in the morning for the next leg of the 'Tri Tour'. Roll on some more PBs!
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