Race report: British 10k 2014

There are few races I’ve enjoyed less than the British 10k 2013. I was lucky to have my place paid for by my employer at the time, and I ran for my industry charity, GroceryAid. However, the race itself was pretty terrible – it started off badly by taking over 45 minutes to get across the start line on one of the hottest days of last summer, and didn’t get much better from there.

I then went onto run the Color Run in the same afternoon, which is probably the only race I’ve ever enjoyed less than the British 10k. Now that really was AWFUL. So hot, so much waiting around, so boring, so crappy to run around Wembley. I haven’t been back to North West London since. Just eurgh.

So after all of that, you’d probably wonder why on earth I would even bother showing up to this year’s British 10k? Well firstly, I was lucky (again) to win a place with Tiger Balm to run as part of their #BorntoRun team. I’ll get the race fee thing out of the way straight away. No 10k should cost £50. It’s just ludicrous. I would not have run this race either last year or this if I had to pay for it.

And despite getting the race place for free, I still found myself no more impressed with the race this year than I did in 2013.

Tiger Balm were excellent. I got the place only a few days prior to race day, their communication was spot on and the pre race meet up – despite being early – was friendly, organised and really good fun. They asked us to wear onesies for the photocall, with the option of wearing them for the race. We were given a tshirt too, but I thought it would be fun to go with the onesie.

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This obviously made me really, really hot. But this wasn’t what I disliked about this race – I still wasn’t as hot as I was running it last year. I disliked the long walk to the start from the bag drop, the long wait before we got started (although admittedly not anywhere near as long as last year) and the fact that there wasn’t start pens by finishing time – which meant a painful mixture of weaving around walkers and being elbowed by faster runners. That was the worst. I’ve never felt so jostled, nudged and just generally harassed as I have in this race. It really started to stress me out by the second half and I ran the final 3k with panic rising in my chest.

The long walk to the start…

After the horrible bit right near the end where you reach Parliament Square, but then get shot off towards Victoria for an out and back loop along Victoria Street (my least favourite part of the whole route – and you run through the Blackfriars underpass – twice), I was really glad to have finished.

The we all got held from entering Whitehall Place, the location of the bag drop. The crowds mounted up quickly as more and more people crossed the finish line. It all got a bit ridiculous.

It then transpired that everyone was queing for the Help for Heroes tent, regardless of whether they had run for them or not and it was blocking the whole road. It took almost half an hour for someone to come and sort this out. By the time I made it to my bag and to Charlie, Harry, Jonny and Seb, I was so on the edge of panic from being hot, tired and packed in a crowd for the past hour and a half, that I did a little cry. I thought I was past the point of crying at 10k’s… so thanks for that British 10k. Oh, and one more thing – I still have no idea what my time was because when I put my race number into the website, someone else’s result comes up. Not that it matters, but you’re supposed to be able to find it out.

Thankfully, my day drastically improved post race thanks to my awesome ambush of tigers, as the five of us headed to Le Pain at the Southbank Centre for fizz, granola, coffee and a whole load of bread. Love Le Pain.

Then me and Charlie shared a peanut buttery cake of amazingness from Outsider Tart‘s stall at the food market, accompanied by a coffee whilst soaking up the sun.

I gave the British 10k a second chance, but I don’t think I’ll be giving it a third…

 

Finally properly single

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I don’t want to keep bloody banging on about it, because it’s shit and boring and I want to move on, but a few months ago I went through one of those life altering, perspective shifting break ups. (I’ve written about it already here and here.)

The problem is, I can’t seem to get over it, and it’s starting to annoy me. Over the last few weeks, I seem to have gone backwards on the ‘getting over it’ scale. It’s partly because I started seeing someone new (which, it turns out, I am absolutely not ready for, and it has consequently ended) and partly because I’m missing a big goal and some focus, so my thoughts are drifting off elsewhere. Unfortunately that place is back into the past.

To start with I thought I might rectify the problem with the obvious. The first few months after my break up were so (relatively) bearable as I let myself be completely and totally consumed with training for the Paris marathon. Maybe that’s what I need to do again, I thought. I’ll sign up for an autumn marathon. But as much as I would love to go back to Berlin in September, I don’t think repetition is the way forward.

I’ve already decided on a rather large and scary nutrition goal, which I’ll share more on next week. But for now, I’m feeling a little bit lost when it comes to my fitness life. I’m running WOTN in Amsterdam next weekend which I’m really looking forward to, but I have already decided not to run Run Hackney two weeks later. I am just not feeling in the right frame of mind to train for and run a half marathon. In fact, I haven’t run in two weeks. Two weeks is nothing in the grand scheme of things, but it’s probably been a good six or seven months since I’ve gone that long. I was loving running at the beginning of May, but then my knee decided to get angry with me and I haven’t run since.

So I’m properly on a break from boys and now running has decided we need some time off too. I don’t have a race in the calendar until September and the last of my four planned European run adventures will soon be here and gone. Now what the heck do I do?!

Race report: We Own The Night 2014 (aka the most perfect day of food and fitness)

The weekend kicked off early on Saturday morning, with a trip to Southwark parkrun. This is technically now my ‘home’ parkrun, as it is the closest to me, but I am also in fairly easy Overground distance of Highbury Fields, Hilly Fields and maybe even Crystal Palace too (but am yet to venture there). I decided to walk the relatively short distance over the river and along Jamaica Road to Southwark park to meet up with Charlie and Laureen who had also volunteered.

Charlie’s photo

Steph, ever the parkrun tourist, joined us from SW London as she edges to within touching distance of her 50 tshirt (just checked – she’s on 48!) I was given barcode scanning (it took me a while to get the ‘knack’ of it and at one point quite a queue had built up!), Charlie on finisher tokens and Laureen was marshalling out on the course. It was a really miserable, cold and wet morning, but it was great fun and we headed for brunch on the promise that we’d all be back soon.

Brunch was at Village East over on Bermondsey Street. Fairly quickly I recognised a lot of similarities to The Riding House Café on Great Titchfield Street (where I went for a ‘nice’ lunch with my mum a few months ago) which were in no way a coincidence as a quick Google search told me they are part of the same company, along with The Garrison, also on Bermondsey Street.

I had the bacon sandwich with avocado and chilli jam (£7) with a side of oh-so-creamy scrambled eggs (£2). Avocado is always a winner for me, and I do like a menu to make a bit of an effort wih staple brunch items such as sandwiches or a full English. Speaking of which, Charlie had the Village veggie breakfast (£10) which was one of the most inventive non-meat breakfasts I’ve come across with halloumi, egg, mushroom, tomato, quinoa, chilli and carrot. (As a side note, the Bill’s vegetarian breakfast (£7.95) is pretty ace on this front too.)
Laureen’s photo
After this, we decided we wanted brunch pudding, so headed to Del Aziz. All of us have been there before, and we decided on a pot of fresh mint tea and three cakes to share between the four of us. We went for baked cheesecake, banana and walnut cake and apple and walnut tart. I am LOVING apple tarts at the moment! The cake was massive, the tea delicious and we spent almost three hours lounging on the sofas in the corner. Devine.
Charlie’s photo
Finally, I get to the race report part. I went home, had a cake-induced nap and woke up grouchy with the rain lashing down against my window. Going to run around Victoria Park was the last thing I wanted to do. Nevertheless, soon I was stood freezing at the start line, and instead of a plan to take it easy, Charlie had somehow got me and Harry to agree to try (for as long as we could) to go sub-50. Umm, what?!
Charlie’s photo

We were the closest to the start of a race that I’ve even been, so we were off very quickly. We settled into a 8:45 pace for the first two miles, with me and/or Harry saying “I could slow down” at fairly regular intervals. We passed the awesome Cheer Dem at 4k, and despite speeding up after coming through the cheers, it become obvious by around halfway that sub-50 was off the cards.

Photo by Ash Narod

Did this mean Charlie let us step off the gas? HELL NO. She was the ultimate cheerleader and pacer all in one, tearing her way through the crowds and for most of it I literally felt like I was clinging on. It was super congested by the second lap, but somehow we managed to gain speed. Round two of Cheer Dem was even better than the first, and boosted us to a fastest final mile of 8:07. This was followed by the final few hundred metres at a pace of 7:30!

Unfortunately neither Charlie or Harry beat their PBs, but their fantastic pacing, dragging, chat and encouragement helped me take almost 3 minutes off mine (which still stood from WOTN last year), coming in at 53:15. I am absolutely chuffed with that time, and it has given me the confidence to think that one day, I might be able to conquer sub-50 (Charlie’s definitely got it in the bag).

After the race, we found a few of the TNR girls (in the tent handing out free Prosecco, natch) and we headed to Shoreditch for Pad Thai. A perfect end to a perfect day.

Charlie's photos
Charlie’s photos

Despite being really dubious beforehand and really not wanting to run at the time, this was a really, really good race. It’s come on LOADS since last year (bigger race village, speedier bag drop, more starting waves, less windy and narrow course) and I had a really great time. I wouldn’t hesitate in recommending people sign up. For me to have broken my PB at this race two years running it must be doing something right, eh?!

Paris marathon training update: (less than) 1 week to go

I’ve taken all this week as annual leave to ‘prepare’ myself for the weekend. It hindsight, work might have been a good distraction.

I’m a fully paid up member of the ‘running is a journey’ cult and all this time I’ve now got on my hands is allowing me far too much space to think. A lot has happened to me over the past six months (new big girl job, newly and surprisingly single, new house and housemates in a new part of town). I think to a certain extent, marathon training has been the glue, the focus, the one constant thing, whatever you want to call it through all of these things. It’s been the one thing that’s always been there, that I knew I had to keep ploughing away at whilst everything else was changing around me.

And on Sunday it will stop.

I’m terrified of the race, but I have also accepted that I can be no more ready than I am. I’m more terrified of the anti climax.

But I’m so glad for everything that training for this race has given me before I’ve even done it. I needed the distraction. I needed to know I was strong enough to do it. I needed the truly dear friends I have made. And I’ll still have all of these things AND MORE after Sunday.

Paris, I am ready.

 

Paris marathon heroes: Shane

You know what makes training for your first marathon really enjoyable? Other people. I don’t think I would have got this far without having so many brilliant people also taking on the craziness of 26.2 alongside me.

Some I’ve run with, some I haven’t, but they’ve all been there to share stories, moan about aches or even just remind me to get a damn medical certificate (which I’ve finally got around to, 10 days before the race).

So, with race day practically around the corner, I just wanted to feature some Paris marathon heroes of mine. I am in total awe…

First up, it’s Shane. I met Shane pretty much exactly a year ago. He was one of the first people I met at RDC West, when I went along when I first moved to London, after months of not running. Shane immediately made me feel welcome – he is friendly, encouraging and completely and utterly humble (as you will see from the below!)

The journey that he has been on and transformation we have seen in Shane over the past 12 months has been incredible. Inspiring isn’t a strong enough word. Twelve months ago, I could more or less keep up with Shane. Now he is burning up the streets with the Elites each week and I don’t have a chance.

I was there when Shane completed his first half marathon last year – I witnessed him so nervous before the race but saw him earn a medal to be proud of. I know he’s nervous about Paris too, but his training has been thorough and consistent and I know he’s going to own it. Since September last year, Shane has been encouraging everyone else around him in their training for Paris, and I am so pleased I’ll be lining up on the same start line as we both take on our first marathon.

Why a marathon and why Paris?

I’ve decided it’s time for me to make the next step in the running world, and the next step after a half marathon is a full marathon, to which I’d admit now I’m kind of dreading, actually getting butterflies in my stomach thinking of it now. But on the day it’s going to be great. The reason why I’ve chosen Paris is I didn’t register in time for London. And what a great city to run your first marathon. It will also be my first trip to Paris as well.

What are you most looking forward to on race day?

Meeting up with fellow Run Dem Crew members before the race, and just seeing the smiles and joy on everyone’s face before the run. I believe it will lift my spirits up as well. I’m so grateful to be in the RDC family. I believe it lifts so many people on race day to know you’re in a crew that won’t leave you behind.

How is your training going?

Training has its ups and downs. When it has it’s ups it’s lifts your spirits really high. When the training is down, I say to myself marathon training sucks.

What do you know now that you wish you’d known before starting training?

Don’t change your food diet 6 weeks before a marathon. Also go easy on your long runs, and explore more of London on your long runs.

Yeah don’t run with elites 6 weeks before a marathon. I ended up bruising the sole of my right foot and couldn’t walk on it for a week. But thank God my sole is better now.

Cara’s photo