Yesterday I took part in the Women’s Running 10k race in Finsbury Park, London.
I signed up for this race a few days after my last 5k run, knowing I wanted a new challenge and something that would push me to progress, and I knew I needed to leave it a decent time to double the distance I was running at the time. I’d been fruitlessly searching for something to come up in the right time for the right distance and fairly near to me, and then someone retweeted a link to a tweet from Women’s Running magazine, saying that they had a London event in their 10k series – it was perfect. I signed up right away!
I’m about an hour from London and so close to the train line that it was a no brainer. I knew I would have 6 weeks to train for it and the promise of tea and cake at race end was the clincher.
I’m not going to lie, my training was hard going. I’d just changed jobs and started biking to work. My schedule was all off and to top it all I got sick. Exhaustion set in and two of my 6 weeks training time were mostly resting. I had to shun my 3 runs per week schedule. My brain wasn’t in the right place and I was struggling to run more than 1.5 miles without wanting to pack it in.
But I was determined to do at least one training run of the full 10k. I have to say that Gary was amazing during my training. He ran a full 10k before I did – I was gobsmacked, and he told me how easy it was to manage. My training runs were emotional. I found myself bursting into tears whilst I ran a couple of times. Once because I knew in my mind I couldn’t do it, and then once later on when I realised I could. It wasn’t until last Sunday that I got myself into the right frame of mind and I knew I’d achieve it. I had the correct playlist, the right mind-set, Gary running beside me and I managed to run my first 10k in an hour and 8 mins. I made sure I integrated some walks when I felt they were needed but the fact that I’d managed to get the distance done meant that when I finally hit race day I would have the knowledge that I’d done it before.
So….. the big day arrived and we had to get up at 6:30 to eat and get ready and get the train so that we would be at the park for 9am. The weather forecast had been changeable all week – from cold and rainy, to sunny, to cloudy and rainy and back. As soon as the train pulled in to Euston station the heavens opened. I was a bit gutted, more for Gary who would be stood watching, than for me. I didn’t really fancy getting drenched but I knew it would cool me off at the same time. Thankfully it seemed to stop as we go off at the Underground.
We walked from the tube station to the park and I already felt excited. I’d had pre-race nerves but that was mostly apprehension. This would be my first solo race, having run my first race with my friend Tash and my second with Tash and Gary. I was worried I’d get lonely standing around and not know what I was doing. We arrived at the park amongst over 600 other women and their supporters. I pinned on my race number (why is this so hard?!) and attached my race chip to my shoe. We had a bit of a walk around to see what was what and tried to keep warm. I was a little worried about how cold it was as I was just wearing a race vest and sports bra. I kept my hoodie on until the last-minute, and watched an interview with Nell McAndrew and the pacing team.
I’d already decided that I’d start off in the sub 70 minute group. I wanted to hit a sub 60 but I knew that it wouldn’t be likely. The rain started again and they moved all the participants forward for the warm-up. Gary went off to the side and I nervously moved forward with the rest. Despite not being able to see the woman holding the warm-up and her microphone cutting off it was a really decent warm-up. And before we knew it we were ushered off into our sections. I only had a couple of minutes to get my Garmin connected before we were off – thankfully it connected just before the starter gun – and we were off!
I hit my watch as I crossed the line and started my music. The race was two 5k laps around Finsbury Park, and their email from a few days before had mentioned that there were a few inclines. They weren’t wrong. I’m glad I’d done some hill work before because otherwise I would have been very under-prepared. I started off alongside the 70 minute pacers but soon found that this was hard to maintain and headed off ahead of them. The vicious remanents of my cold soon caught up and I had to slow a couple of times to blow my nose. After my first walking break, however, the pacers overtook me and I never managed to get back near them! Gary and his parents were there to cheer me on and found their way to various different points to encourage me.
At one point a Dad allowed his little girl to run right across the path we were running on and I had to swerve around her so I didn’t run right into her! Of course her Dad was oblivious, as was the child. Muppets. Fortunately Gary and his Mum were there to capture the moment:
The original correspondence from the organisers had stated that there would be a water point at the 5k mark. At 1.5 miles they were handing out bottles, which confused me but as I was feeling pretty hot I took one. I was surprised to see how many of the runners were pouring water over their necks and heads already, as I wasn’t feeling that hot.
I liked how the run was two laps of 5k because it meant that on the second lap you had an idea of what to expect and were able to run knowing where you were to an extent. Seeing the finish line, I took out my headphones as I wanted to hear what was going on around me. I heard people cheering me on by name – my vest had my name on it and it made such a difference knowing people were cheering me on personally! Gary was there just before the finish line clapping me on. Over the line I got my medal, goody bag, t-shirt and water.
I honestly couldn’t believe what I’d just done and the text from the organisers I received a few minutes later confirmed I’d run the race in 1:09:41. (My Garmin said 1:09:45 so I must have been slow turning it off at the finish line, but I was really impressed with its accuracy!) I’d just about hit my sub 70 and finished 459th of 621 runners!
After a quick sit down and draining a carton of Vita Coco I headed over to the tea and cake stand and got myself a gorgeous sugary tea and a banana muffin. I also had a rummage through the goody bag, which had a t-shirt, magazine, energy drink, 9bar, shampoo & conditioner, tissues, deodorant wipes and muscle rub inside.
You can tell from the photo above that I was a little pleased with myself and couldn’t (and still can’t) believe how easy it was. Yes it was tough but at no point was it too hard.
I’m so pleased I was able to run this and support Macmillan Cancer Support at the same time, and I can’t wait to have a look through the official photographs when they’re uploaded onto the website.
We headed back home and I had a few hours before I had to get ready to go to a wedding reception. I must admit I was a bit of a drip by about 10pm and really needed my bed. Today my knee is sore, but I think that was because of the inclines, even though I had my knee support on. But now I’ve run this race I know that a half marathon is really within my reach. It looks like the winter will be full of training for the MK Half. It’s exciting because today was the Nike Run To The Beat half marathon which is on my running bucket list, and now I know that I’ll be able to run it next year for sure.
Thanks so much to everyone who supported my training and sponsored me on this run. The Just Giving page is still open and will be until the end of the year, so if you still want to donate to Macmillan please go ahead 🙂
I now have 3 running medals after starting running from scratch 4 months ago, and I’m really quite proud 🙂