This morning I took part in my first Paisley 10k. I’m not quite sure how I’ve avoided this one which is always a popular date in the running calendar. I’d been looking forward to this one since entering a few months back as it meant getting back to my old stomping ground after teaching in the town for 6 years. By complete coincidence I’d spent the night before being absolutely blown away by an ex-Paisley Grammar pupil in the lead role in the stage adaptation of Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime. And so it was cycling past The Grammar on my way to the start line that I made my mind up to try and give a season’s best performance.
The 6.5 mile cycle warm up has worked well in the past for me as a leg loosener and I arrived in what I thought was good time in the centre of Paisley around 30 minutes before the start of the race. Despite this I got stuck in the bag drop queue for a while meaning I missed my chance of getting close the front of the start pen. I tried to wriggle my way through but with a record breaking field of runners I accepted my fate and positioned myself on the edge of the start pen hoping to at least avoid getting boxed in.
However with a few minutes to go the crowd surged forward and I managed to navigate a path closer to the front. This was still a long way off my regular competition but gave me a fighting chance of catching them. Determined not to let this put me off I took a wide route over the first km which encompasses a small loop past two of Paisley’s most iconic landmarks – The Town Hall and Paisley Abbey. By now I had caught Billy from the Harriers who would surely have given me more of a ribbing about my poor pacing yet again following the Mens 10k if he’d seen me coming.
Heading around the back of Gilmour Street station the route settles into a reasonably flat and fast one on wide roads. Around 2km I caught Janine, Donald and Mark from the Harriers. A quick scan of my vitals told me that I had run the first mile in close to 6:20, too fast given how much weaving I had done and how slow the first 400m had been. Despite this I felt pretty comfortable. With a sensible head on this would have been a good spot for me to sit in as part of a pack and regroup but I felt strong and decided to try and maintain the pace as long as possible passing the guys and exchanging pleasantries.
Between 3 and 4km I caught sight of Paul B. and Neil from the Harriers on the horizon and I tried to reel them in over the next few kms. I was sure I would have settled into a good rhythm by now but my second mile split was 6:12. I was getting faster. Pleased to be holding a pace that could put me on for a new pb and feeling good I was still regularly passing other runners due to my delayed start giving me confidence in my fitness, speed and potential on the day. Passing Paul I gave him the shout to try and keep Neil, who seemed to be maintaining the distance between us, in sight for as long as possible.
Approaching the half way stage the route switches to the pavement before dropping down slightly to an underpass giving you a view of those ahead on the other side of the busy road. This meant only one thing – after the turn there would be a climb. Turning the corner into the underpass I was pleased to get a shout of ‘Mon Mr Taylor’ given that there can only be a small number of pupils left at Paisley Grammar who I actually taught.
Cresting the small climb I was still feeling strong and enjoying the relative speed at which the miles (and the kms even more so) pass off in the middle distance events. The next km sees you approach the canal section of the race. A switchback onto the main path and you can really start to open up the legs if you still have the energy. Around this point I was slowing slightly as much due to the small climbs in these miles as the fast start and this would be where I lost precious seconds and my concentration lapsed. With about 2km to go I contemplated picking up the pace but I could still see Neil from and Mark from Motherwell A.C. ahead giving me two good benchmarks that a good time was on. If I could close the gap slightly, coupled with my slow start, my chip time would be good and I could smell a sub 39 minute pb. Sadly for Neil as I almost got within shouting distance he took a wasp in mouth situation and had to stop to clear his throat.
The route exits the canal path at the 9km flag giving a clear indication that it is time to put the foot down if you have still got anything left in the tank. Although I was still feeling strong I was continuing to slow coming off the canal path. Unfortunately there is also a small rise up to the Coat’s Memorial Church so you’re doing well to maintain pace at this point.
A watch check would definitely have helped me at this point in knowing a. How much further was to go, and b. How close I was to my pb.
Route experience would definitely have helped me at this stage as I was concerned that the finish might take us around the back of Gilmour St. again. As I was beginning to struggle with the pace I definitely took my eye of the ball at the most important stage. As it turns out the final 600m is a racer’s dream with a gentle downhill sprint to the finish line. I picked up the pace from about 500m to go after a strong show of encouragement from the al fresco dining Harriers but dropped off this pace slightly with what turned out to be about 200m to go worried that we’d be directed to do a loop of the town square before seeing the finish line. As it turned out it’s a straight run down the main street before a sharp left turn into the main square.
I crossed the line in 39:11 in position 100 (a few places higher on chip time). A PB equaling effort and a result I am pretty pleased with all things considering as I’ve only had a couple of weeks of solid training under the belt since returning from Japan. It’s definitely given me confidence for the next couple of months with some exciting new and old challenges to look forward to.
It was great to see such a strong turnout from the Harriers at this one and to catch up with so many others who seemed pleased with their runs in the main. This is definitely a race I would do again and I am confident that if I run as well next year course knowledge would definitely see me dipping under my current pb.
As always thanks to all of the marshals and race organisers – particularly those that gave their time for free.