Waking up when it was still dark on Sunday morning, with screaming leg muscles and buses to the start leaving at 6.45am sharp, the prospect of taking on another race seemed impossibly cruel. But one thing spurred me on: the smug knowledge that by the time the UK was waking up I'd have a medal round my neck, a grin on my face and a free beer in my hand (see right!).
In the 2009 Challenge I found the 10K race seriously tough. My legs just wouldn't move fast enough, every step I took was painful and I kept being overtaken by the chancers running it as a standalone race!
This time, I was in the zone and it turned out to be the most satisfying race of the lot. I fell in with three Dutch runners by the end of the first kilometre, and having ran alone for much of the week it felt pratically effortless running in step in a group. I got into a rhythm and stuck to it - and even got faster as the race went on. The last two kilometres were the quickest of the lot, and among my fastest of the whole week.
The 10K's understated course through the outskirts of the resort of Paphos doesn't have the spectacular views of the week's other races, but it was exhilarating to steadily tick off those final few kilometres. By the time I reached the waterfront and spotted the finish gantry across the harbour, the emotions kicked in - along with enough adrenaline for a sprint to the finish!
When I checked my time later, I noticed that I'd run exactly the same time as I had for my first race back from injury in May this year. That race was the moment it hit me how unfit I'd become, wheezing round a flat road course and unable to believe what my watch was telling me. On Sunday, I managed to pull the very same time out of the bag with 20+ tough miles already sitting heavy in my legs. If that wasn't the perfect finish to my Cyprus Challenge, a clanging sign of how much I can get back out of the training I put in - and motivation to keep running - I don't know what is.