Two weeks ago, I ran a 10km race on the hottest day of the year – 33 degrees when we started at 7pm. The race did not go to plan, in part because of the heat, and so I decided to give it another go.
RunThrough are a London running company that put on a series of Chase the Sun races in London parks throughout the summer. My house galls almost in the middle of Brockwell Park and Clapham Common and so when I discovered there was another 10km in Clapham Common two weeks after my failed attempt in Brockwell Park, I decided to enter.
This is Britain, I thought. Two weeks after a heat wave it will definitely be cold and rainy. Perfect for a PB!
But of course it didn’t quite work out like that, yesterday was the hottest day of the week and much hotter than we usually get in England… A positively cool 28 degrees compared to the conditions for my previous race!!!
I decided to be much more organised – I had a plan. I drank lots of water all day, was going to remember to take a large bottle on my bike and a smaller handheld for the race itself. I had a cereal bar for energy before I left work and a gel to take right before the race. And I had goals (yes, plural).
A goal: sub-50. Run no faster than 4.55 pace per km until half way, then see how I felt in terms of picking up the pace.
B goal: new PB. Sub-51.05. I had the required pace written on my hand, and if sub-50 was no longer looking possible I was going to focus on hitting that pace instead.
C goal: better than last time! If all else failed I was going for sub-53 and also had that written on my hand.
As always, things don’t quite go to plan and I ended up leaving work a bit later than anticipated, meaning a very fast 45 minute cycle to the start of the race! I was a bit concerned I had exhausted myself before I had even begun! Once there, I quickly picked up my race number and put my bike and rucksack in bag drop – as usual with RunThrough races, all very easy and efficient.
I met up with my friend Jack and we got ready to race, lining up in the 48-51 minute category. Countdown occurred and we were off! Jack shot off and I tried to settle into a steady pace, but I felt like I was all over the place. Every time I looked at my watch it said I was running too fast, but when I reached the 1km marker I was 11 seconds behind where I wanted to be. Luckily, I realised by 2km that the 1km marker had just been in the wrong place and so I was able to rely on my watch again!
Lap 1 was all about running steadily and trying not to run too fast. Lap 2 was about holding on as I started to get too hot and tire. I managed this not too badly, slowing down a bit but it wasn’t insurmountable and my average pace on my watch hovered at 4.59 for a number of kms. After 5km, it was mentally easier as I could start counting down the laps.
Lap 3 became about trying to pick up the pace and I gradually began to overtake people, including Jack who had shot off right at the start! Throughout the only final lap I was overtaking people all the way around, despite the fact I was not running particularly faster than I had been previously. I was struggling and breathing very heavily and every km seemed to take hours to come past.
But it wasn’t long until there was less than a km to go and then I tried to give it everything I had in the final 500m, crossing in 49 minutes 22 seconds – a brand new PB and sub-50 minutes in less than optimal conditions!!!