Race Review: Sunderland City 10k 2021

Sunderland is a favourite running event. I did my first 10k there in 2016 (slow and painful but I did it!), moved up to the half in 2017, didn’t enjoy it, and have been sticking to the 10k ever since. The 10k is a great course. It’s mostly flat and I always get a PB there without fail. I had reason to expect that this year would be no exception.

Until this morning’s trip to Sunderland, I hadn’t raced a 10k since the Great North 10k 2019, nearly two years ago (thanks pandemic). My previous 10k PB was 1:09:13, set at Sunderland in May 2019. However, I managed a 1:03:30 10k split in the first half of last September’s Virtual Great North Run (not sensible! I was trying to keep up with faster runners), and more recently have been consistently running around 1:10 during easy 10k training runs. I knew, even with the weight gain and loss of fitness that has come about during the last fifteen months of lockdown, that a PB was almost certain. I also believed, judging by my recent running, that sub-1:05 might be possible. However, I didn’t want to put too much pressure on myself, so I told myself I would be happy with a PB of any amount. I’m not sure I ever really believed that though!

Medal stack
The medal stack keeps growing!

I went off a little too fast, but that was expected. I need to get used to running races with other people again, and not letting others around me set my pace for me (this is a really difficult balance as I also use this initial atmosphere as a boost to get me into the mindset of running faster than usual, and so I’m not sure I’ll ever get it 100% right). However, I kept up really well for the rest of the race, and didn’t burn out. I tired a little in the last couple of miles – I’d made the 5k marker in 31 minutes and was convinced sub-1:05 was on, but in the last mile I really didn’t think I would do it! However, the finish line appeared sooner than expected (they move it around slightly from year to year), and I was able to sprint – sort of! – for the line, finishing in 1:04:41. I am absolutely over the moon.

The great thing is that I’m now considerably closer to something that’s been a goal for the whole six years I’ve been running – a sub-hour 10k. The two 10ks I’ve got lined up in the autumn/winter are tougher courses, so I don’t think I’ll do it this year, but if I train hard and lose the lockdown weight then I think I’ve got a really good chance of getting it at Sunderland next year.

Race t-shirt
It looks red but it’s pink. My first pink race t-shirt!

I’ve been really wiped the rest of the day – surprisingly so. I don’t think I’ve ever been this tired after a 10k before. However, I’m going to take that as a good sign, as it means I raced it properly!

No more in-person races now until the Great North Run in September. London Marathon training will keep me busy in the meantime…

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