September 23, 2013
The problem with entering a new race, as in the first year of a race is that not only do you not know what to expect but neither does anyone else. The route, the atmosphere, the field, the organisation… so many unknowns.
Richmond Running Festival was one of those inaugural races, well three actually, the Kew Gardens 10K, the Visit Richmond Half and a kids mile all taking place on the same day and culminating in a festival…sounds like a grand idea hey?
My first instinct upon finding out about the festival was to enter the 10K, however the start for this race was 8.30 and seeing as I live the complete opposite side of London, I thought it slightly implausible to get there on time so opted for the half instead. It was still quite a squeeze getting there on time what with tube closures and a rather long walk from the station to Kew Gardens (a world heritage site) where 2 of the 3 races started.
But I arrived with about 20 minutes to spare, just enough time to pick up my race number, drop of my bag and have a loo stop…not bad hey?
The field was small, I guessed at about 1500, but it was a little smaller than that in fact and from what I could see about 70% of the field looked like club runners, men mainly but with a few spritely looking females too. I made my way to the back of the starting hubble and waited patiently for the start, which went off with little fanfare.
The first mile was very pretty, through the grounds of Kew Gardens and it became apparent very soon that I was right at the back of the pack. I wasn’t too sure how I felt about this at first, and then figured what the heck I would simply run for as long as I could and just see what happened.
I wasn’t feeling at all confident when my alarm went off at 6am, my other half’s comment of “You seriously gonna do it? You are looped!” just before going to bed didn’t help much, however I think on this occasion he had a point. I did Run to the Beat only 2 weeks ago, hadn’t been for a run since, and have just spent 5 days in Cornwall carting a heavy pushchair up cliffs, and across inaccessible beaches resulting in a slightly sore back. I was in no shape to run another half marathon, but I had committed to it.
The route was very nice, the stewards very friendly and efficient so what did I have to moan about? And I kept plodding on. By mile 5 I felt quite chuffed with myself as I hadn’t stopped yet, even in the trails along the river which were secluded and perfect for a bit of a walk. By mile 8ish I was thinking that I might even be able to run the whole way and was making reasonable time too. My Garmin was set to KMs and my 10K time was 1.17 an average time for me. But by mile 9 I became aware of a blister on my foot and I had a guy keep overtaking me and then walking which kinda distracted me a bit…until now I hadn’t actually seen any walkers, well if truth be known I hadn’t really seen anyone taking part in the race since about mile 2…and I started to walk.
I picked it up again and ran the last few miles, but by this point my back was killing me too, I had shooting pains in my lower back and my shoulder blades felt very odd, making me stoop over like a hunchback. I tried a few stretches to loosen up but that didn’t really work. But determined to get in under 3 hours I started running again. But just as I thought I was finishing I ran under an underpath and into the park for the last part bof the route about a mile around the edges of the park with the running festival way off in the distance. I suppose if there were other runners keeping me company or even some crowds cheering me on then I would have run, but I had given up by now and walked as fast as I could. I ran the last 500 meters or so a little downheartened by the fact nobody was even that bothered by my momental 3 hour 8 minute effort. I picked up my medal, energy drink, tshirt and get this…a beer (great idea) and sat on a bench for a while taking in the festival atmosphere.
I kept an eye on the finish line but didn’t see anyone else come across so I figured I was last and made my way to the tube for the long journey home.
For a first race I think the Richmond Running Festival did a fantastic job, there were a few issues at drink stations and with mile markers, but other than that it was a friendly, stressfree, beautiful route of a race and one I would defo do again. I think a lot of big organizers could learn a lot from this one, and in terms of the races objective to showcase the local area…wow…Richmond is not only a runners paradise, but a whole different world to my East London One…I saw rowers on the thames, polo players at a polo club, a rugby match, grazing cows and lots of very big stylish cars.
This morning I feel ok about the whole coming in last thing, someone has to and if it is gonna take me over 3 hours to cover that distance in a small field like yesterdays then hey its likely to be me, but in fact when I looked at the results this morning I found out I was second to last with another phenomenal woman coming in at 3.23.23. Its all about perspective, did I come last…no, did that lady…well no not really, because coming in after us were those who didn’t make it to the start line this morning, those who thought about doing it but chickened out, and of course all those millions of people (like my fiance) who think running 13.1 miles on a damp Sunday morning is a bit looped!!! Mind you he was very grateful for his can of London Pride which I brought home for him!!