July 3, 2017
Before I became a blogger I worked as a project manager, on all kinds of projects in the arts, community programmes and volunteering. For around 8 years I worked on London 2012 related projects, delivering consultation projects that helped local communities understand the changes that were happing, or finding ways of getting older people involved. The work was varied, but exciting and very very rewarding.
The thing is working on the Olympics is a really weird thing, because everyone is kind of winging it a bit…few people have worked on one (Remember the last one in the UK was in 1948) and hardly anyone has ever been to one either? So nobody really knew what to expect.
One summer I was working on a project where I went around East London with a massive 3D interactive board game where residents got to have a go at designing what should be in the olympic park area after the games had finished. So they got to position housing, commercial units, learning and community facilities and make suggestions for the types of events they wanted to see.
This was more than 10 years ago….and the last time I had short hair (it’s back again)
And so yesterday was a great reminder of what has passed since then…and how close the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park has come to those original artist impressions which were bounded around during the bid phase for the games.
My alarm went off at 8am.
I snoozed for a while, knowing I didn’t need to rush. I got up had some breakfast and got myself ready for my race. It took me about 6 minutes to walk from my apartment to the start line. I KNOW SIX WHOLE MINUTES. The sun was already up and strong. It was going to be a hot one.
The Stadium looked magnificent and as I stood on the bridge near the aquatic centre I could see the look of excitement on the streams of people making their way to the start area. And it wasn’t just the runners who looked excited to be there, but their families and friends too.
Running the Simple Health Great Newham London Run is not your average local run…this is a race like no other.
The route takes you all around the Olympic Park taking in all of the major venues, East Village which housed the athletes during 2012 and of course the beautiful parklands that frame it all. It truly is spectacular.
The thing is, this is my normal running route…so you might think I would tire of it…NEVER!!!!
I met up with a small group of ladies from The Clubhouse (Our online running club) and we managed to get a photo with Olympic Athlete Jo Pavey who I got to interview a few months ago.
We then made our way to the start area to use the loos and find some water…it was 10am and was already scorching. We found some shade and watched as some of the earlier waves went off. then before we knew it we were warming up and shuffling towards the start.
My training has been a bit on off recently due to a problem with my knees and some extreme fatigue from over doing things. So I had no idea how I would get on. I knew it would be a hot race, and the route is not exactly flat. My goal was to finish in under 1 hour 30, but also to run as much of it as I could.
I started off steady keeping pace with the rest of the crowds, one of the first sections is a long uphill stretch…I didn’t want to walk so I focussed on just getting to the top, and looking out for familiar faces on the opposite side of the road…it wasn’t long.
Came the call from Maya, one of my buddies from East London Runners. That was a brilliant boost. As I made my way back down the hill I spotted Adele, one of my awesome ladies in her TFTR top (you can buy one here). I love spotting my tribe at races.
I ran strong up until about 3K, but then the heat become too much and I needed a walking break. I tried to stick to my 60 second rule. Whereby you can walk whenever you need to but only ever for 60 seconds, its a great way to stay motivated.
The water shower at 4K was a lovely treat, I walked through it very slowly to get the benefits and then I was off again running up towards the Copper Box. Running into the Olympic Park and towards the velodrome I was actually enjoying myself. My knees were holding up, and I felt like I had energy in the tank…despite it being almost 4 hours since I had anything to eat.
The run around the cycle track was brilliant, its a bit up and down but there are beautiful views to be had, and you can see other runners snaking around different bits of the course.
I did 5K in 40 minutes and 55 seconds, and knew I could reach my goal as long as I kept pushing.
The last few kilometers flew by, and before I knew it I was running on to the training track of the Stadium…it was a little frustrating knowing you still had a kilometer to go until the big moment…but it also added some suspense.
Looking at my watch I could see I was 1 hour 20 in…so I picked up the pace and enjoyed the cooler air in the underpasses of the stadium….which seemed to go on forever…and then it happened, the light of the open aired stadium hit you, and then the cheers.
The running on the track aspect of this race never fails to deliver…a shorter stretch this year than in other years, but this meant I had enough in the tank for a sprint finish…well at least thats what it felt like to me.
I crossed the line 1 hour 23 minutes and 53 seconds, so more than 5 minutes faster than my goal.
I loved every second of it…every last second.
This race is wonderful for so many reasons. I love that it attracts people from all around the UK, and that visitors get such a buzz from running in my local area, and I love that so many local people take part too, loads of local running clubs, loads of community groups handing out water and entertaining the runners around the route.
It is a very special event, in a very special place and I feel extremely privileged to have seen the developments in this area over the last 10-15 years. I am very proud to have played a small part in it, and chuffed to be involved in this race every year.
I would like to thank the Simply Health Great Newham London Run for inviting me to take part again, and I would like to congratulate all of my ladies that did so well in the heat yesterday…we will be back!!
To join our online running club The Clubhouse and to get involved in all of our race meet ups, virtual training, support and accountability click here, we have members from all over the UK and across the world, and we are so much more than a running club, we are a family.
They did amazingly,
Jo – 1:36 but 20 mins of that was dealing with a medical emergency with another runner (such a selfless thing to do)
Marina – 1.42 (Power walking the whole way)
Fiona – 1.19
Adele – 01:14:06
Stacey – (Awaiting time)
Gail -1hr 16
Zoe – 1:21:59
Also a last shout out to this lovely lady and her husband who stopped me to say hello before the race had started…she gave me loads of tips to help me on my journey towards veganism too.