Tamworth 10 - Rob Thomas
Race Date: August 7th Results: 2016
To understand the much of went on over the 10km in Tamworth 2 days ago I have to take you back 12 months to last years race.
My wife grew up in Tamworth and ever since I started running I though it would be fun to compete and hopefully do well in the local running festival. Mid last year I dipped under 17min for the first time (Newy Parkrun) and looking at recent results thought I might be a chance for the 10km at the Tamworth running festival. As the race began the lead pack was lagging behind the pace I wanted to run and so I took control and belted out the first 7km at the desired pace. Come the 8th km though and a bloke about 10 years my senior (who had been on my tail the whole time) kicked and all I could do was watch him fade into the distance. Id done all the hard work, and in the attempt to post a fast 10km time, id been outraced.
12 months on I was struggling to get back into top form after the BaytoBay half, but was confident that if I could run well I might be able to take out the race. Having a look at my goals for the year, I had a 10km time in mind, but firmly etched next to the Tamworth 10, was to win. Now the hard thing about this was that being a rural event, you never know who was going to rock up and what it would take to win.
The fortnight leading into the race I crunched the numbers of a few recent events and with the help of McMillin and a few mates determined that 3:30 pace was achievable. Should some ex Olympian rock up I would just sit at my predetermined pace, otherwise i would sit with the lead pack and pick a moment to strike. Now although this sounded all well and good, it really didn’t allow me to visualize the race as I normally would and do some of those ‘tune up’ events before race day.
Race day came by I was feeling ok without being super prepared. Whilst my sessions weren’t ‘on fire’ I was coming into the race uninjured, which is a bit of a rarity for me. My brother in law and I watched the new Jason Bourne movie the night before and talked about the course. Being a runner himself and the bloke on the bike directing the race each year, his parting words were “the race is never won before the king George ave turn around (5.5 into the race). So that was the plan, stick with the lead group (or run at 3:30 whichever was slower) and try to take control just after the turn around. And whatever I did, don’t do all the work only for someone else to clinch the glory like last year.
At 9am (late start!) the gun went off and we did a half loop around the no.1 oval. Exiting the gate a group of 5 formed, one of which I knew was a sub 17/34 10k runner (Ben). The first km was slightly up hill and I was happy to see one of the blokes lead us through the 1km marker at 3:33. This is where however, things got interesting. Ben started talking to me and the other runners and soon I found myself in a full blown tea party! The pace started slipping and we went through the 2nd km in 3:36. Little did I know at the time, but Ben was trying to slow things down, take it easy and conserve for the later stages.
But that’s not where it stopped. The 3rd km saw the pace drop even more into the 3:40s and this is where I started feeling uncomfortable, so I tried a few times to push to the front and pick up the pace. They’d follow, but as soon as a peeled off to let someone through, the whole pack would slow down. No one, it appeared, wanted to lead the race. Who else had my brother been speaking to!
Now at this stage I wasn’t sure of anyone’s racing background, and had no idea whether someone could beat me at a sprint in the last couple of kms should this pace continue and the pack stay together. So against my brother pre race advice, and feeling the weight of last years loss, I decided to make a move.
The plan was to kick coming out of a corner (which was into the wind) and see who would come. Fortunately I caught them mid sentence and managed to surge 20m away within a few hundred metres. From here I evened things out to a comfortable pace and made sure I held form into the wind. I really didn’t want to run solo and so I thought I would hold a little back just in case they managed to rejoin. The plan worked however, the chat abruptly stopped, the group splintered while trying to make up the ground into the wind and I was able to make develop a 30s gap by the turn around.
But this is where the demons kicked in. Mentally i’m not the strongest runner at the best of times and visions of last years race started floating through my mind. Despite running slower that my ‘potential’ pace I started noticing slight fatigue in certain muscle groups. At every km mark I waited for someone to come up to my shoulder, but at the same time didn’t want to go all out in case of fading with the undulations at the end of the course.
Making things worse with 2km to go the 5km runners join our course and so any chance of seeing where your competition are, is lost in the crowd. So id glance over my shoulder every 400m and keep the rhythm going, trying to stand tall and stay strong through the legs.
It wasn’t until the 9km mark when I came down to the oval that I started feeling a bit more comfortable and could start thinking about what id achieved. I ran through the gate and along a semi circular grass stretch before hitting the finish line (about 10.4km) at around 37 min. It was pretty fun around the finish line with the local sports journalist and photographer having a chat and getting to spend time with my family who knew how much I wanted to etch my name onto the local trophy.
It certainly wasn’t the fastest 10km race going around (previous winners have run anywhere from 28min!!! but usually 33-37 min) and a lot behind my 10km goal time for the year, but I had a huge sense of achievement of ‘racing’ well and achieving a goal that id been pondering for the last 12 months.