On Tuesday night I ran in the Run the River 10k for Teach First – a UK educational charity. As I was running the first lap I was thinking about this blog post, and I thought I would begin it with “This is not a race for a PB“. Well, it turned out I was kind of right and kind of wrong about this….
The race started right by City Hall, in the centre of London on the south side of the Thames, and began by running up to and over Tower Bridge, along the Thames Path on the north of the river, back across over Southwark Bridge and along the Thames Path on the south side of the river, past the Golden Hinde and underneath London Bridge before heading back to the start for another lap.
I hadn’t trained for this race – I’d been in rest mode post-triathlon with just two short runs under my belt in three weeks and so I was relying on residual fitness. Taking part was more of an excuse to get a 10k run done in fun surroundings with other people, rather than attempting to get a PB or anything like that. As a result, I had no nerves going into it. It was an evening race starting just after 7pm and by 5.30pm as I was getting ready to leave work, I was feeling tired and slightly lethargic – really not feeling like running 10k.
A quick cycle over to the event and the fresh air had woken me up slightly from a day in the office. I locked up my bike, changed into my trainers and headed to pick up my Teach First t-shirt and drop my bag off. I managed to meet up with a few more people from work also doing the event so hung out with them for a bit before the start – they were all in a different wave from me so soon enough I had to leave them and join my wave.
NOW the nerves started, as we queued up to begin. The first runners off looked like they were running so fast and I was worried that when we crossed the line I wouldn’t be able to go that fast and would immediately be trampled on by a horde of runners. Obviously that didn’t happen and crossing the timing line was quite a bit slower than it looked! The first km in fact was very slow (6 min 35). The run wasn’t on closed roads meaning there were only narrow pavements to run on and pedestrians, benches, lampposts etc to dodge. On the north of the river, there was a section where the path narrowed considerably, leading to congestion on the first lap and an enforced walking break. I didn’t mind too much! But it was this that led me to think that it wasn’t a race for PBs.
The route was absolutely fantastic, beautiful views of the river, of Tower Bridge all lit up, of the Tower of London and all the poppies surrounding it. There was a steel band on Southwark Bridge which I LOVED – really got me running (not very) fast. It was interesting seeing all these places that I’ve walked past in the light, in the dark and also when passing them quite a bit faster! For example, the Golden Hinde came on me quite surprisingly, I had obviously lost my bearings as I didn’t expect to see it there!
The second lap was a lot less congested. I noticed someone I knew just in front of me – he had started in a wave behind me so I realised he was obviously a bit faster. I then decided to keep him in sight. As long as he was in sight, I figured I could run as fast as he did. And I managed! At some points he sprinted off but I was still able to sprint after him, dodging other runners and pedestrians (one pedestrian on the phone “arghhhh I’ve got about a thousand runners coming at me!”).
With 1km to go I picked up the pace and then sprinted across the finish line. Only to check my garmin and see that it read 10.8km …. and then check my strava to see that it read 10.9km …. now I understand you are likely to run more than the race distance due to not picking the shortest route. However, running almost a kilometre further?! The race must have been long. And that is why it wasn’t a race for a PB. HOWEVER – strava told me that I had in fact run my fastest 10k ever – at 55.48 just slightly faster than during my triathlon and getting ever nearer to that 55 minute mark. So I’m going to chalk this one up as a great race AND a 10k PB. Yay!