This race was most excellent. I had convinced myself that it wasn’t going to be (thoughts of being undertrained, as per usual) and there were several things about it that were not most excellent (the banning of spectators from the race village, the chaotic start, the overcrowded first half of the race, the fetching orange tees, NO MEDAL…), but in spite of all of those things, I PB’d and that is most excellent.

I was waiting for the start of the race with Kirsty, and we managed to manoeuvre ourselves pretty close to the starting tape, so at the very front of the orange, ‘going for a PB’ pack. From all accounts, this seems to have been a wise move. I could see the 55 minute pacer a few metres in front of me. I’d been debating all day whether to go hard for the PB (which stood at 57:52 set at the Derby 10k over two years ago) or just take it easy (thoughts of being undertrained, as per usual).
After some obligatory photos of the more interesting people up in front, we were away. In one, big, cramped mass of orange and elbows. I got swept along with the crowd for the first couple of km, inadvertently going PB pace. Okay then. Orsi then appeared in front of me – in her white RDC tee. I had mine on under my regulation race shirt, too scared of going against the crowd. But it was at this point I decided the RDC tee was coming out and it was ON. Spare tee tucked into my waistband, it was time to do this (and try not to get too angry with everyone who decided the best route was diagonal).
I went through Cheer Dem Crew at 4k feeling strong. All the way to about 7.5k it was a blur of aaaall gooood. My third mile was an especially speedy 8:48 (sub 9 minute mile with no traffic light stops – oh my days!).
By the time I got to 8k I was beginning to struggle. The crowds were thankfully a lot thinner going past Cheer Dem the second time and it was epic. I could hear noise as soon as I turned the corner to the straight. I would love to say I flew past, but in my head it was more of a shuffle. Several high fives and I was boosted and on my way (thank you so much guys!). Shortly after this, I worked out I had a mile to go and ten minutes to do it in. This was possible.
The final mile was HARD. But I had less than ten minutes of running left and I wasn’t going to get to this point and give up. Stu (the boyf) was at the u-turn at 9k doing his smiley, photographer thing (being in black made me a lot easier to spot). Almost there. A few more Run Dem cheers on the home straight REALLY helped and into the last 400m my thought process was this: ‘This is just one lap of the track at Paddington Rec. What? This is only one lap of the track at Paddington Rec?! Awesome! LET’S GO!’ Can’t say it was a sprint finish, but it was a finish in 56:06 and for that I am bloody well chuffed.
What makes me even more pleased with this result (other than it being a stonking new PB), is that just five weeks ago at the Energizer Night Run, I had one hell of an awful race and ran my slowest 10k time of 1:05:46. Admittedly, that was a shocker, but NINE MINUTES FORTY SECONDS difference! Thanks to Leah, all of Team Naturally, Run and all and everyone at Run Dem Crew and RDC West, because I sure as hell couldn’t have done that without any of you.
On the surface it may not have looked like a race made for PBs, but I (and many others) seem to have managed one. You’ve got to hand it to Nike, they did a bloody good job of creating an event that was popular, talked about and visually exciting. Pretty much every female London-based runner from my Twitter timeline was there, and as such the race was run amongst friends.

At the end of my NTC class on Saturday morning (yep, the same morning of the race), our trainer, Gil, asked those of us who were running Energizer Night Run how we were feeling. I felt like I disappointed him when I told him I hadn’t properly trained for it, and so was heading into it as just a bit of fun. Wrong response.

So, it came as no real surprise to me that I found the race hard. Real hard. Like worse than my first ever race two and a half years ago when I only trained on a treadmill and it was in Sheffield so really hilly hard.

But then I remembered that I only properly started running again (after a prolonged, eight-ish month break) a month ago, so it’s not all bad. It does mean that my goal of getting a PB at the We Own The Night 10k is probably a bit unrealistic – I’d need to shave off eight minutes in five weeks. As I didn’t feel strong at any point during the Night Run, I’ll just look to changing that for the next one.

As for the actual race, I don’t have any complaints. I was really looking forward to running after dark – I prefer it anyway to daytime running – and expected it to be fun as it was a race concept we haven’t really seen in the UK yet. As I turned up, it was raining, so I tried to do my best ‘I’m happy about this and not at all nervous’ face.

Battersea Evolution was used as the pre-race and after party venue, which meant there was tonnes of room for picking up tshirts, head torches and mooching around.

Olympic Gold medalist Nicola Adams was the race’s ambassador, so there was a quick Q&A with her before the typically awful cheesy warm up (Eric Prydz video workout, anyone?) The transition from mooching to start line was surprisingly quick and we were off.

I found the first 5k pretty average. There was a point approaching the 5k turn off where I considered just going for the shorter route, but in reality I was never going to let that happen. I slogged on for the next couple of kilometres, and was thankful for a tap on the shoulder and wave from fellow NTC-er Laura at around the 7k mark.

After the second time around the bandstand, I really started to struggle and took my first walk break. The last 2k were more of a run-walk combo, with some much needed encouragement from a runner who was a fan of my galaxy leggings just after 9k. The last straight up towards the turning off was hard and seemed to go on a while, and by this point my cotton Night Run tshirt felt heavy from the earlier heavy rain. As soon as I saw the light up Energizer batteries I managed about 20 metres of sprinting, straight towards my boyfriend, Stu, who lovingly proceeded to take my photo at (way too close) range.

I was very thankful for the free coconut water at this point, and then even more thankful for the free beer once inside. Inside was good vibes and good music, provided by the Run Dem all stars.

Overall, I’d really recommend this race (it’s already open to register your interest for 2014). The race ran smoothly, the marshalls were present and mostly vocal, the course well marked and runners well dispersed throughout. I really appreciated having such a big indoor area for pre/post-race use (especially as it was raining), which helped make it more of an event, rather than just a race. Just one (tiny) improvement would be some dri-fit tshirts – those cotton numbers help no one.

I may have had a terrible race – but I kinda knew I would do. If you under prepare, you will get told. I don’t ever want to feel that weak whilst racing again, so from now the training must step up. And step up it will.

Photos thanks to Stu, and his lovely new camera (which I will be borrowing).

This morning was the British Heart Foundation Regent’s Park jog – a choice of one or two 5k laps around the park in aid of the charity. Myself and Stu ran the race, and as we haven’t actually raised any sponsorship (I was treating it as a training run, Stu can run 10k in his sleep), we’ve pledged to sponsor each other a tenner so we are at least contributing something.

I always thought Regent’s Park was ‘just round the corner’ from Stu’s flat, and at 1.5 miles away, I guess it is by London standards (just doesn’t feel like it when you’re walking – rather than running – there). We got there just in time to miss the massive queue that developed at the registration tent, walking straight up to get our timing chips and tees with no problems.


Continue reading…

I’m a bit late posting about this, but here goes…

So Sunday was the Derby 10k. If you’ve read any of my previous posts you will be well aware of this.

After a couple of nights with ‘The Fear’, dreaming of all the ways I was going to screw up, I woke on Sunday after a full, uninterrupted, dream free 6 or 7 hours, feeling alright, maybe even looking forward to it.

I’d had a slight panic the right before, when I returned home at 9.30 to the realisation that ALL my running kit was still in the washing machine. Thankfully synthetic fabric dries quickly.

Back to the race day – I collected The Boy, then my work friend Nicola who was running with me & made our way to Derby.

Here’s us before the race:

Now, there’s a picture of us doing the warm up on the This is Derbyshire website, but I’ll refrain from linking to that. All you need to know is there’s a small dog sat on the floor with it’s owner in the background of the photo. And at one point during the warm up my right foot & the dog’s face may have come into contact. Mortified! Trying to follow the warm up, say ‘Nic, I just kicked that dog’ & hold in laughter. This combination does not make a good photo.

At the start, I was surprised how quickly everyone got going. The only race I’ve done before was the Great Yorkshire, where each colour group was stopped when they got to the start line & we had to wait a couple of minutes to let the previous group get ahead. At this one it was one starting gun & we’re all off. The start was very congested, in fact the whole course was pretty narrow & there was only one part where we ran over a bridge that the road really widened & you could run truly at your own pace.

Me & Nic ran together for the first 4k until she got too frustrated with the crowds & I gave her the signal to start weaving through without me.

I managed the first 5k in pretty much bang on 30 minutes, which was great, but at the same time meant I had no leeway to slow down in the second half. I hit 7.5k a couple of minutes shy of 45, and at that point was really enjoying it. The run from about 7k up until entering Pride Park was the easiest & best part of the race. The Boy was even surprised when I came round the corner all smiling & waving at 9.5k.

Here’s me as I’m running past him:

The finish was a lap of the pitch at Pride Park. I didn’t realise this & thought it was into the stadium, done.

I picked up the pace as I realised the gun time was still under an hour, so my goal chip time of under an hour was definitely safe. My final time was 57:52. Really chuffed! I said I would’ve been happy with even a second under an hour, so those two minutes were a bonus!

Nic managed 54:24 – really impressed with her, especially as she’d twisted her ankle about 4 weeks before the race & missed 2-3 weeks training.

Here we are post-race, in our new t-shirts:

We’re now on the hunt for more 10k races to do over the next few months. However, they’ve got to be easily accessible by bus or train as I’m in the process of selling my car. This is proving tricky!

On top of that me & Nic are weighing up whether to enter the Robin Hood half marathon at the end of September. Because that requires some proper, hardcore training!