A River Runs Through It



Amazing news! I have breached the 1 hour mark for 10k. Its taken 9 months of plodding the pavements and trail paths of Essex to get to this point and this past Tuesday I managed to sneak under the wire with about 40 seconds to spare.

And where do you ask did this historic moment happen? You did ask right?

Well if you didn’t ask the answer is still the same, it was at the Run the River 10k


Take my hand, lend me your ears and let me tell you all about it…….

It was one of those London days where you get all the season’s in one day. While strolling over Tower Bridge heading towards the start in Potters Field park, London was bathed in brilliant sunshine. Almost immediately upon picking up my race t-shirt the clouds gathered and the temperature dropped. And by the time of finishing the race, the pavements were slick and there was a real autumn chill in the air as it had hammered down with rain. London was experiencing the start of Storm Aileen. Yes the UK really does name it’s storms! There is something pointless about naming wind and rain in the UK, we’ll surely run out of names very quickly.

By way of background, Run the River is a charity race set-up by Teach First. There were around 3,000 runners taking part as we set off at 7pm. Soon after the start I realised what a luxury it had been when back in July I had ran the British 10k on closed London streets. Coming out of Potter’s Field park and around onto Tower Bridge it was time to dodge the tourists and battle the last of the commuters. We were a big group of blue shirted runners spoiling lots of tourist photos of London. I zoomed (plodded) past a group of holidaymakers waiting patiently to line up their river shot, how long they eventually had to wait to take that pic I don’t know, as getting 3,000 people along one side of the pavement on Tower Bridge made for a very tight squeeze. As you can guess the first kilometre was quite slow. Fortunately the race did open up once we were past the Tower of London and you could start to enjoy the scenery a bit. There were still a few surprised people on the Thames Path playing with their mobile phones that must have thought they were being attacked by a blue shirted flash mob.


Moving further west we hit another 3 bridges, Blackfriars, Millennium and Southwark (twice). Got to say I was pretty surprised how much elevation you run up against going over the bridges. I have 9 months of runkeeper data and this particular run had by far the most upward elevation of any run I’ve done. I had thought I was prepared for hills and inclines as my training included heading up the hill to the farm local to me, not so!! Approaching Southwark Bridge from the south side about 3k from home was a proper thigh burner, they were screaming for mercy (shut-up thighs).

To help monitor my speed (and how quickly I might slow down) I had added an alert for  current pace to my runkeeper audible feedback. It really helped. In training I had been using only average pace as my guide and I’d been finding that with my first 2k’s being quite quick I didn’t notice how much I slowed between 3-4k. My early pace was masking my current speed and I was coasting with a ‘false’ average. Once the average suddenly dropped I couldn’t make the time back. So adding current pace meant I had a much better idea on whether I needed to speed up and I knew it sooner. I Can’t believe I didn’t think of it before, knowing my current pace made me more aware of when my speed slowed and knowing that sooner gave me more chance to speed up again. If you use the audio feedback on your tracker, add current pace as well. I think it’s going to be really useful to improve my times going forward.

This is my third 10k race and I’m pleased to report that I didn’t hit that horrible 7k pain barrier that I had suffered during the previous two races. It could be down to the weather as it was a lot cooler conditions and of course I have put in a lot more miles since July, but whatever the reason is, I was able to speed up at 7k rather than my legs turning to jelly. It has to be the training kicking in.

Into the last 2k and the heavens opened making it a dark and murky night. That inspired more speed out of me as I wanted to get indoors out of the weather! Passing through the finish I was delighted to discover that runkeeper and strava (yes a little OCD to use both) had me finishing inside 1 hour. My running buddy Stef was about 10 minutes quicker – but she is both younger and much lighter than I! Thinking about other people’s times made me realise why I’ve come to love running in these big group races. I could be wrong but seems to me everyone is competing with themselves and not so much each other. Which means that everyone can win if they beat their own target, so your success is not somebody else’s failure and vice versa. I know it sounds like a beauty pageant contestant saying they want world peace, but that doesn’t make it any less true.

With all that said I now need to find another 10k, I think 55 minutes sounds like the next target.

One last thing, Harissa Chicken with rice, chickpeas and pepper sauce is not the ideal pre-10k lunch….even if eaten over 6 hours before, you heard it here first – much like my fellow competitors!



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