February 24, 2019
My blogging started back in 2010 with me coming last in a race.
I don’t often come last.
But often I’m close.
And sometimes I 100% am the last to cross the line, like last weeks Chase the Moon 10K in the Olympic Park.
As a slow runner you never know for sure if this race is going to be the race that you come last, and with lapped races with different distances it is even harder to know if you are actually the final runner.
It doesn’t matter I guess.
Although it does sometimes.
I am marathon training at the moment and races are a big part of my training plan. They help to motivate me to get out, they help me to run faster, and they help me to gage my progress.
Being the final finisher last week was a bit of a pain in the arse. It was a cold evening and I felt terrible for all of the volunteers out on the course waiting for me to finish.
They were great, as were the organisers who gave me a big finish line cheer, but its still a little embarrassing and annoying too, because I am not always this slow. I’m finishing my 10K is like 80-90 minutes rather than the 70-80 I used to be able to do them.
But hey ho, a run is a run right?
Yesterday I wasn’t sure if I would come last but I knew for sure I wouldn’t complete the half marathon I had signed up. It was the Run Through Lee Valley VeloPark run, and I had done this before back in August or September last year.
The run takes place on the cycle circuit which has to be open for cyclists at 12pm sharp, giving the marathon runners exactly 3 hours to complete. Last time round I was asked to leave with 2 laps to go and it was awful.
It wasn’t anything anyone did in particular, but I could feel the staffs embarrassment and awkwardness at having to ask me to do it. I didn’t mind because it was part of a training run in preparation for the New York Marathon so I was just happy to get 11 miles in the bag.
I knew yesterdays race would be the same…but somehow yesterday I just didn’t have the energy to deal with anyone else shame and embarrassment.
I started the race steady. I had a new audiobook to listen to and no real agenda for the race just to get the miles in my legs. I did the first 4 laps in just under an hour…so it was slightly faster than I have been running…and considering the hills I was happy with that.
It was a pretty uneventful race to be fair, I was completetly zoned out doing my thing.
A few ladies stopped to say hello and chat, and one bloke asked me to take a photo of him (it was his first half marathon). These events are always friendly and well organised and the volunteers are all lovely.
With 8 or 9 laps under my belt and close to the two hour mark I started to think about my exit plan.
The thing with the laps, is that the staff cant let you out on the course for additional laps if you can’t make it back to the start for the 12pm cut off, so even if you have time to do more, I could be looking at finishing at 11.40…and I really wanted to make sure I got 12-13 miles in.
Plus I seriously didn’t want to be the last person across the finish line today, I just didn’t have the emotional capacity for it. I had been up at 7am to get my daughter to her friends for a play date, and I knew I had to be back soon to pick her up to get on with the rest of the weekend.
So on my 10th lap I ran off the track, through the centre and carried on my run in and around the Olympic Park, in fact I used this opportunity to head to Asda in Leyton to pick up a phone charger for my phone. This gave me some extra motivation because I knew I had to be back to get my car out of the carpark at 12.20….so my walk breaks were limited and I pushed my pace as much as I could in what had turned out to be quite a sunny day.
I stopped my Garmin at 12.45 with 5 minutes left of my carpark time.
I was happy with that.
And even though on my results it will show as DNF (Did not finish) it would have said that anyway if I had stayed on the course, the only difference was I did it on my terms….oh and now had a working phone charger for my car ha ha.
Could I have run faster.
But I would have killed myself doing it.
Should we have to run faster?
Well I have mixed views on this.
I think there are a lot of events which could be a lot more inclusive and have more generous cut of times. For this race I had no problem with the 3 hour cut off point because I understand why it’s there and it is well communicated. (I wonder if I could have had the option of starting half an hour earlier??)
But I also think many of us slower runners are afraid of running faster, or at least afraid of giving it a go.
I think many of us take comfort in being a back of the pack runner, and with a bit of effort and focus we can improve our times if we want to (but only if we want to, we shouldn’t need to)
I have found when I have worked on my speed it has given me the following
- More confidence
- Better fitness
- More choice with races
- Friends to run with
- More time on a Sunday after a long run
- Less injury or niggles (this often coincides with a bit of weight loss too)
Speed is absolutely relative, but having improved confidence never did anyone any harm.
I asked some of the women in my groups how they felt about coming last. Heidi said,
Feeling that you are inconveniencing the marshals
Worst thing ….about coming dead last was no medals left, wrong size or no t-shirts left, finish inflatable collapsing round you as they were in so much of a hurry to get away.
One race (where I wasn’t last) they’d packed everything away and my Finish line was a chair 😢
I am sure coming last is something that will feature in my future again some point because you just never know the size or the quality of the field, even at parkrun, one week you can come middle of the pack the next week (at the same event) come dead last…it all depends who shows up.
Starting March 11th though I am going to be working a bit on my speed.
I am doing another cohort of my popular improve your speed online coaching programme, “Scream if you want to run faster” I have around 30 women signed up so far…and would love to hit my target of 100.
Sign up before Friday and get 50% off the price.
- 8 weeks
- 7 techniques
- Focus on the 5K time
- 3 bonus ideas for improving speed
- 1 closed FB group
We are going to have a blast. Women tend to knock between 3 and 10 minutes off their 5K time, depending on there starting point and the effort they put in.
Who fancies challenging themselves to see if they can indeed speed up a bit.
A massive thank you to the guys at RunThrough, I love your events….and I love the photos you guys take and give us for FREE!!! And I could kick myself for not getting a flapjack!!!