The mean streets of London

race_3260_photo_55000544What a great event. As my only previous experience of running a 10k was a smaller race in Olympic Park, I was amazed by the number of people taking part in the Virgin Sport British 10k this past Sunday in Westminster. I knew from the emails I was receiving that there would be 10,000 people running, but it’s really hard to imagine what 10,000 runners will look like – it’s A LOT of people in shorts and t-shirts (and fancy dress) all ready to push for that PB, or in my case get round in one piece!

This was my big goal event, training for it had forced me out road running in the depths of a very cold January. Signing up to run was the inspiration I needed to get myself out exercising while also addressing the weight I had piled on. The biggest positive previous to actually taking part is that I now weigh 30 pounds less (13.5 kg), I’m 6 inches (15cm) smaller around my stomach and get out and run at least 3 times a week – from not running at all. Even before lining up at the start, this 10k had encouraged some very positive behaviour changes.

Race Day!

I was up pretty early on Sunday morning, around 6am – giving me plenty of time to get something to eat and also make my way from Essex to Piccadilly. After spending the week googling what breakfast I should eat before running 10k (yes all week – I’m a thorough over-thinker), I scoffed a bagel with peanut butter and jam. I’d always thought that combo sounded disgusting but it was really quite nice. I had all my gear laid out the night before, with bib number pinned to my shirt (E1228), phone at the ready with runkeeper enabled, go pro attached to its hand mount and a couple of protein flapjacks in my bag – it was time to go!

I arrived around 8.30, dropped my bag and headed to my start point in Pen E. Heading along The Mall towards the start I really started to appreciate the uniqueness of taking part in a race that had closed down a number of major central London roads. It was a sunny Sunday morning and I was walking along the centre of The Mall with Buckingham Palace ahead and not a car in sight. Once in the start pen I started to get feel of just how many people were ready to run, the pen slowly filled up until everyone was pretty much shoulder to shoulder, that’s when you feel the atmosphere of anticipation as 10,000 people are ready to get started. It was a good feeling being in that group, although I could have done without the warm up act – burning energy doing noisy aerobics before the race was not part of my plan!

There isn’t much to say about the running, once you get going it’s hard and the longer you keep going the harder it gets! I usually run alone, but having completed this 10k I can see the advantage of running in a group as you do keep each other going, and the big crowd cheering you on doesn’t hurt either. It’s quite surreal being able to run in the road through the busiest streets in London – Regent Street, The Strand, Trafalgar Square, the Embankment and Parliament Square, all with no cars in sight and you running in the centre of the road. As you bob along and look up from the road you’re running past Big Ben or the London Eye, it’s like being in one of those Richard Curtis films where every London landmark is passed by in a 10 second shot. The only downside being, you can’t breathe, you can’t see from the amount of sweat pouring into your eyes and your legs are screaming at you to stop and lay down (shut-up legs). It was hard but great all at the same time. Around the 7k mark I saw my chance of a sub 1 hour finish get away as the pace runner disappeared ahead of me. The 1000 metres between 7 and 8k is the hardest, not sure why but I really struggle at that point. Once I was into the last 2k I found myself speeding up again but never enough to catch up the time I had lost, it also didn’t help that Westminster Bridge has a steeper gradient than you might imagine!

Before I knew it (or 1 hour 58 seconds according to runkeeper), it was over. I ran through the finish, was photographed, grabbed my very nice medal, necked a bottle of Lucozade and stood in Whitehall with a load of other sweaty (it was hot on Sunday) and satisfied runners. All that was left was some stretching, a bag pick-up and changing out of my saturated shirt into my brand spanking new British 10k one. I was aching, but not painfully so. It’s what I shall refer to as the ache of satisfaction, my 10k goal was achieved and it had been achieved on the famous roads and thoroughfares of one of the planet’s finest cities. I enjoyed the British 10k so much that I’ve already signed up for next year!

And now? do I wait a year for the next 10k? No way, by Monday night I was signed up to the Run the River 10k along the Thames in September. I shall of course be looking to crack that 1 hour mark!

Be one of the runners next year by clicking here

pre-register in advance for the British 10k 2018

see you there!

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