On Sunday morning, I made my way to Hyde Park to take part in the Energized Sport 10k Hyde Park run.
Some of you might remember that I was supposed to do a half marathon on Sunday - and indeed, I was hoping I would be too! However, I wasn't really feeling it in my heart of hearts this time. There's been a lot on my mind over the last few months, and it was hard finding the time to train as hard and as regularly as I did last summer. But after pushing myself to do a successful 10 mile (about 18km) training run last Saturday I was ready and pumped to go!! But then I got the news last Wednesday that 1) the weather was going to be appalling in that part of the UK on Sunday and 2) all the tubes were going to be down so getting out there was going to be a pain in the arse.
You all know that I'm not a quitter! But it seemed incredibly masochistic to go to trouble, expense and put my health at risk by running for two and a half hours in pouring rain when I am going to Scotland next week for something incredibly important and cannot afford to be sick! This half marathon was one I hadn't selected myself to participate in, it was part of a prize that I got for being shortlisted in the Runner's World comp at the end of last year. I probably wouldn't have picked a race in an area that's a bit hard to get to. I like ease when it comes to my race venues! :)
But I felt a bit glum because, despite the pressure of the last three months, I had trained for the half and trained as best as I could. It seemed a shame to waste the work I had put in.
So I looked to see if there was something else on a bit closer to home that I could do - and lo and behold, Runner's World website to the rescue, and there was my 10k! Hyde Park is a nice easy stroll from my house, so there would be no need to rely on public transport to get there. Huzzah!
So I booked in for that and felt very pleased that I wasn't going to be lazy and not run at all. But I was a bit cocky, thinking "Oh, I ran 18k last week in my training run! 10k will be easy!"
No, not really! I must always respect the distance!!
I rested and carb loaded with a pasta meal the night before, did a bit of yoga, and felt pretty relaxed. However, I then had the most appalling nights sleep thanks to the eff-wit neighbours we have upstairs so woke up feeling akin to hungover which was not good!!
A shower made me feel a little brighter. I had lots of water, Lucozade and a Muller Rice before we set out. Seeing it wasn't a distance I had to really fuel myself for, I wasn't worried about only having something small to eat. I was hoping the pasta from last night would work its magic!
My support crew (well, Tom!) and I arrived about an hour or so before the start of the race, and we'd completely underestimated the chill factor of the early spring morning. While there wasn't frost on the ground, it was definitely in the air. My sexy "determined" Lorna Jane singlet had to stay under my old Jeans West sweater :P
Of course, any race, regardless of the distance, sends me into "toilet mode" (Tom thought that phrase was hiliarious!) So I took advantage of there being no line when I arrived and headed in. When I went over to the basins to wash my hands I noticed a girl standing there, also with a Hyde Park 10k race number on, looking at me curiously.
"Hello!" I said. "Are you looking forward to the race?"
She smiled and said she was, and then she asked, "is your name Philippa?"
It turned out that this girl was Beth, a blogger and a Skinny Latte reader! How cool (and random!) is that?! I was so surprised! So we ended up having a lovely chat and hanging out before the race started - she was so nice, and meeting her really made my day! :)
At last the race start time was upon us and off we went! I ran hard to start with, and then settled in to it. It was a cold but clear morning and everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves! I just went at my own pace, and tried not to panic about being slow and people overtaking me. I just listened to my music and enjoyed seeing the city wake up. Hyde Park really is so lovely - there were ducks and swans gliding on the Serpentine, daffodils and bluebells starting to spring up all over the park. When we ran through the Italian gardens my nose caught a whiff of some beautiful flowers, which smelled heavenly!
As with any race, there were parts that I just cruised through and others where every step was a struggle. The first 2km were brilliant, then I slowed down for the next 3km, and then the next 2km were really good, then I started struggling again! It was "toilet mode" I blame! Too much Lucozade before I went to the start line, maybe!
It's funny, when I am running/training on my own, I think I'm going pretty fast (for me!). But when I am in a race situation, I realise that compared to a lot of other people I am very slow! I think if I am serious about doing more races I think I will have some coaching about how I can improve my stride and speed.
We did two laps of the park, so I got to see Tom after 5km - but I almost elbowed some woman who was tailgating me (what the?!) when I lifted my arm to wave to him!
On the final kilometre, we had a bit of an incline to go up, which was rather excrutiating, but then it was the home stretch! It was wonderful to stop! I had ran the entire course with no breaks or stops to walk, so I was very pleased.
My time was:
1:02:04 or 1:01:42 if you believe the chip time! (I do!)
I was aiming to do the 10k in an hour, so I was very pleased with that time - and it's about on par with what I was running when I did the half marathon last year, which is good! At least I haven't deviated too much from my peak!
I probably could have done it in under an hour if I'd really pushed myself, but that wasn't what this was about for me. I just wanted to do it, so I could walk away with something to show for myself for the last few months.
We were given sports drinks, water and fruit - and a medal! I love medals! - when we finished, and then I went to find my poor fiance who was quite cold by now! I took him promptly to the nearest Pret for a hot drink :)
For someone who is very rarely satisfied with anything less than "above average" it is very humbling to have a sport in my life that makes me appreciate my body, and myself more to the point, for what I can do. And what I can do can change at any given time. Not every run will be a good one, and I accept that. I just have to try my best. With my running I must appreciate all the small things I achieve and be happy with them, rather than the constant push to be better, to achieve more. Running, while something I enjoy very much, is only one part of my life. I'm never going to be an Olympian! For me, getting to the start, injury free, and then crossing the finish line is enough.
Plus, it's fun!
Next race: half marathon, 10 days before the wedding! :D