July 12, 2016
I’ve never tried to hide the fact that I love racing…I mean I never actually race anyone, but I do enjoy taking part in mass participation events. In fact I love just watching them too, there is something magical about being around heaps of people with a shared remit…whether that be a marathon, a football match, or an illegal rave.
My first experience of actively being involved in a large sporting event was the London Triathlon in 2005 when I was volunteering dockside, watching heaps of half naked men emerge from the swim leg, deafened by the crowds cheering them on. It inspired me so much that I signed up for the 2006 event despite the fact I couldn’t swim front crawl, didn’t own a bike and hated running with a passion…you see these events kinda do that to you…the atmosphere is infectious leading you to believe you can do it too.
And guess what folks…you can.
My first big running event was the British 10K in 2006. I found the event online paid my fee £30 if I remember right and scribbled the event down in my diary, I had a few months to train, but the date came around far too quickly and guess what? very little training had actually happened.
My race pack arrived, a thick cotton t-shirt, a race number, 4 safety pins and a leaflet telling me how to get to the start line. I didn’t for a minute consider not actually running it…but I took my oyster card with me safe in the knowledge if it all went terribly wrong I could just jump on the tube back home.
Going back to run this event 10 years later was a real pleasure. In fact I think this made it my 5th or 6th time, having run it a few times with friends and last year dressed as a Tiger (Don’t ask) It made me realise just how lucky I am to be doing what I am doing with my life, but also how lucky we all are to have such opportunities for togetherness.
I made my way to St James Park Tube for about 9am. Having made this journey in a few times I was confident I didn’t need to arrive too early. I travelled light too so that I wouldn’t need to use the bag drop.
I love how when in London you get on the tube, and with each stop more and more runners join you, until before you know it the carriage is packed with us, the early morning workers eyeing us up thinking what strange creatures we are.
A nice walk through the park led me to the Mall, by which time there were streams of runners heading towards the starting line. I think there had been a few changes to the starting area from last year, we each had a pen letter on our race number and each pen was walked towards the start once the race was underway. It felt very organised. There was a great atmosphere in the starting area, with music and an MC…plus a fun warm up with GymBox.
I decided I wouldn’t listen to music via headphones as I have done in previous years, instead I would soak up the atmosphere instead.
I didn’t feel very prepared for this race if truth be known. I’d been at a community fun day the day before with my 3 year old, and a heavy cross fit session a few days prior had left me with really sore glutes…I mean really sore…can’t squat on the toilet without wincing kinda sore. But I had agreed to review the race, so there was no backing out.
My race plan was to run as much as I could and simply enjoy it.
The route was different this year which was great as it meant I couldn’t preempt anything.
The first mile or so seemed like it was uphill a little, with lots of runners on the other side of the street still waiting to cross the start line. The staggered starts meant there were people overtaking but there was no barging or bunching up of runners.
The weather was humid despite it being overcast, and there were moments when it threatened to rain…but it was a welcome relief.
I didn’t break any speed records around the course but my running was pretty consistent in the first 5K, passing that point in around 38 minutes. The atmosphere was brilliant, and I loved running down Regents Street. There seemed to be music around the whole course.
I forgot to put my name on my running vest which was a bit of a schoolboy error, so people in the crowds were calling me “Pink Leggings Lady” I hadn’t planned on wearing such bright attire, but realised late on Saturday night that all of my dark clothes (read running tights) were in the washing machine unwashed.
By 6K I was now walk running, and looking forward to it all being over. I was HOT…so the mist showers were like heaven. I knew one of my Clubhouse ladies would be at Westminster Bridge so I kept plodding on, using my 60 second rule (walk whenever you need to, but only ever for 60 seconds) and then I spotted her….the awesome Louise in her Green Volunteer Shirt (take note…you don’t have to run to be involved in mass participation running events, volunteering is a great way to enjoy the vibe without having the achy legs to show for it in the morning)
The section across the bridge was tough…I wanted to walk it all, but looking around at the iconic scenery I had a word with myself and started running again, which is just as well because Louise managed to capture an awesome photo of me with both feet off the ground (THIS NEVER HAPPENS TO ME)
The last few kilometres flew by, Parliament Square was jammed packed…and made me think for a moment about how lucky the running community are to have this awesome thing which bonds us together. I spotted a couple of runners from East London Runners who were volunteering which was nice and I prepared myself for the last 400 meters or so to the finish line. It was at this point the year before last that some little kid shouted out
I thought tigers were supposed to run fast
as I crawled towards the finish line in a furry suit on one of the hottest days of the year.
I somehow had the energy to pick up the pace and finish strong gee’d up by the crowds…I love this flipping race.
Despite having done this event numerous times, I never tire of it…I am a Londoner through and through, and I love sharing the streets of the city I love with tens of thousands of people enjoying the sport that I love. I know its only running, but somehow in the climate that we find ourselves in, its not just running.
I think Sue from The Clubhouse kinda feels the same too don’t ya think?
British 10K…you were awesome…and I hope you will have me back again next year…who knows I might even prepare for it properly and get a PB…a sub 60 minutes would be incredible