I love the RunThrough London events. Low key, local, cheap – they are perfect if you want a good 10km race. They do 5kms too, but with Parkrun every Saturday, I am not sure why you would ever pay for a 5km!
So I signed up to the 10km that took place on Wednesday in Brockwell Park, just a 5 minute cycle from my house. I ran a 10km PB on the same course at the beginning of the year and was looking forward to trying to beat that and duck under 50 minutes for the first time.
But then – the weather. The beginning of this week was a real heatwave, the hottest weather we have had in decades. And Wednesday was to be the hottest day, 33 degrees. It barely ever gets that hot in the UK. Not great for running a fast 10km, even one that would start at 7pm.
I left work and cycled down. It was so hot. That very sticky heat that just sits on you and even the breeze you get when you’re cycling was too hot. And I’d left my water bottle at work so I was already thirsty.
I arrived at the park at 6.40 (for a 7pm start) and collected my number and chip from a desk behind the start line. I’d forgotten my bike lock and a kind volunteer let my leave my bike inside their van. I was all ready to go. I was still too hot.
The 5km runners went off first and then we lined up. Three laps of the park, two pretty big climbs on each. My first lap was going really well. I glanced down at my watch and was really pleased with how fast I was running. Well under 50 minutes pace and I didn’t feel as if I was putting in too much effort. Then came the first hill, and I put a bit of effort in going up it but not too much – I told myself I would run within myself for the first two laps and then start to push it if I had anything left in the last lap.
I was getting really thirsty as I approached the second hill, but I knew the water stop was coming up. You just have to get to the top I told myself, and so I did. Still feeling hot and thirsty, but going pretty well. I stretched my legs out downhill and grabbed a bottle of water.
I tipped half of it over my head and drank the rest but it was on this lap that I started to struggle and slow down. I was just so hot. You know you’re struggling in a race when everyone else you see seems to be doing something more fun – even doing burpees in a HIIT class was looking more appealing!
I got to the top of the hills purely by telling myself over and over again that I just had to get to the top. My pace was slowing and I was discouraged by the fact that I was below a 50min pace now and didn’t see how I could really run any faster.
I picked up more water on the end of the second lap, but this time slowed to a walk as I drank it. I’d given up on my sub-50 goal. I started running again and made it up the first hill and to the second without walking, but the second hill feels really steep and I basically just gave up, power walking up it.
Finally at the top, I forced myself to start running again and was able to really pick up the speed along the top, down the hill and into the finish.
I finished in 53.35 and I was annoyed at myself. It was slower than my 10km earlier in the year despite the fact I am faster. I know I’m faster. And the reason I was slower is because I had a big goal that I didn’t manage to make, and once it started to slip away, I mentally gave up. I did the same at the Paris marathon as well. Yes – it was not the day for my first sub-50 minute 10km. At Paris, it was not the day for a London qualifying time. But on both events I probably could still have finished at least a minute or so faster than I actually did, and I reckon I could still have got a PB last Wednesday had I not given up!
Things I did well
Basically nothing 🙂
No – seriously – I think I ran pretty well for the first lap and I definitely had the fitness, my legs had the energy
Things I can improve
Being more hydrated pre-race
Better pacing. My first lap didn’t feel hard, but with hindsight, I was running faster than I had planned to, and in those conditions I don’t think it would have hurt if I had forced myself to go slightly more slowly at the beginning.
Mental attitude: I really need to get in the habit of having an A and a B goal, so if my A goal slips away from me I have something to aim for to keep me pushing. This would have helped not just last Wednesday but also at Paris marathon!
I have however entered another RunThrough 10km for next Wednesday so that will give me a chance to put all this into practice!