I want to start by saying how much I loved this race. Not because everything went to plan, it didn’t, but inspite of the things that went wrong I’m already planning on signing up for 2018.
I was lucky to be given a place by the race organisers, this was only a matter of weeks beforehand but my personalised race number arrived swiftly. You could have anything you wanted on your bib which was a nice touch, it also provided me with a laugh during the race.
On the morning of the race, my alarm went off late, we got stuck in traffic and I turned up with 6 minutes until the very respectable start time of 10:30am. Not only was I desperate for the toilet, I’d forgotten my pre-race lucozade and more importantly my race number. The race was held in one of my favourite green spaces in London, Richmond Park.
Dashing to locate the help desk a nice lady sorted me out with a new number and immediately after the race I was very impressed with the efficiency of the operation because I received a text corresponding to the chip time of my new race number. This level of efficiency is an absolute rarity in my experience! The whole race felt very well organised.
Toilets were ample and after a quick change from shorts, which had started irritating me in the walk from the car alone, to a Sapir pair of leggings, I located my pen. Luckily for me the race didn’t start on time and I had the chance to chat with some familiar faces and do the awkward pre-start not enough room to really stretch, but I feel I ought to try, routine.
I was in the green starting pen amongst the speedsters, I think I must have put down my estimated 10km not 10 mile finish time, but it meant I was over the line within a minute of the gun.
The theme of the race was one recurring thought on loop: it’s so hot, I’m getting sunburnt, is this hill ever going to end, oh god another hill, ooo there’s a deer, what stunning road race scenery, I want a sub 2 time.
I’m not irresponsible, I had suncream on but I am stupidly sensitive to the sun. I didn’t however look closely enough at the course to appreciate the hills, maybe it’s better I didn’t know what was coming. Heat and hills are a killer combo. The mile marker signs kept me entertained and I was surprised at how many people recognised me from behind, as they over took and said hello, it must be the long ginger hair? It was lovely to see so many friendly faces.
I have to be honest I really wasn’t a massive fan of the water stations. I simply can’t run and drink out of a cup and there definitely wasn’t enough water to go around considering the heat. The course looped past the starting point at Mile 3 and if it’s the same layout next year I think if I had someone with me spectating I’d ask them to hold a bottle for me. I do however fully appreciate the environmental benefits of having paper cups over bottles.
In contrast I was delighted to have Cliff Shot Blocks avalaible at a fuel station, in three different flavours, just before the 5 mile mark. When I’m not scoffing fizzy sweets these are my number 1 choice of fuel.
So on to the inevitable timing blurb. Normally I have a rough idea of what time I’d like to achieve but I never concern myself too much by it. This was different, I wanted to run a sub 2hr and as the race went on I became increasingly fixated on timings. I felt like I had something to prove. I’m not sure what, who to or why, let’s just say it was the heat and that I’d dragged a hungover Alex out of bed across London on a Sunday morning.
I had to stop to drink water at two of the stations, having choaked and then soaked myself at the first one and there was a hill which I had to power walk up, it was probably faster than me trying to run, but otherwise I really did give it my all. My watch stats show that I ran at a faster pace than I usually do or that I’m comfortable at over any distance. It was the first race in a while that I really really pushed.
Coming down that final Hill the watch said 1:58, turning into the home stretch the finish line in sight 1:59, I felt all the lactic acid swirling around in my stomach, could barely breathe and my vision was going blurry, meters to go still 1:59. Crossed the line – 2:00:00, official time 2:00:21. Dissappointed yes, but I put up a damn good fight and managed a finishing smile! I know that those 22 seconds and dare I say a little more, can be knocked off next time. Maybe when I haven’t run a half marathon the week before.
If you fancy signing up for next year, entries are now open on the London 10 Mile website – if you need any more convincing, there were free race photos, a chunky medal and a great post run picnic atmosphere.