London 10000

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The second race of my two-run weekend was the Vitality London 10000, a 6.2 mile jaunt around the capital starting on the Mall, out to St. Paul’s Cathedral and back in to a finish just in front of Buckingham Palace … an iconic route just like the Westminster Mile 24 hours earlier.

In effect, it follows much the same route as the Winter Run back in February, it’s just the start and finish which really sets it apart.

Michelle, on this occasion, was just there to support me. It was nice, given the much bigger numbers involved compared to the day before,  that she was able to get into the event village again. She has tentative ambitions to run a marathon at some point, so experiencing the build up to a major race like this can’t be a bad thing.

Organisationally, it was all pretty slick. Green Park was crawling with photographers – we had our picture taken on five seperate occasions! – and the baggage drop area was very well handled, no fussing around.

If I could fault anything it would be the time taken to get to the actual start line. It took around 23 minutes after the leaders had left before I could get my race underway. I was in the yellow wave which meant I was near the back anyway, but in both my two London Marathon’s I was in Pen 9 and started both of them after just 15 minutes, once from the Blue Start and once from Red.

I had designs on setting a 10k PB so was eager to get going, and I felt good once I did. Running towards and then under Admiralty Arch was a lovely experience but just as I was getting into my stride I was forced to walk due to the narrowness of the roads around Trafalgar Square and the numbers trying to squeeze through. This happened on a number of occasions and upset my early rhythm, so much so that my first mile was easily 90 seconds slower than on Sunday.

But, of course, I had plenty of time to try to make up that lost time, and I did indeed go quicker in each of the two miles that followed and at the halfway point had managed to get things back on track, in fact I was just outside my 5k PB!

However, it all went wrong between miles 3 and 4 … basically the area around the Bank of England and St. Paul’s. It *is* the most elevated part of the course but there’s no climb to speak of so that can’t be the reason. I think I just expended too much energy trying to make up for lost ground during the first mile, coupled with the heat of the morning. It was hot out there!

I did recover between mile 4 and 5, going over a minute faster and again over the final mile but the damage had been done.

The finish was special again. I’ll never tire of running up Birdcage Walk. This was my fifth time running it, twice in the marathon, twice this weekend and once on my own when I ran the three historic finishes to the London Marathon, and the view of Buckingham Palace as you turn onto the Spur Road is always awe inspiring.

I was trying to keep one eye out for Michelle in case she was standing near the finishing line. I’d missed her at the marathon even though I apparently looked straight at her, so I was hoping not to do the same again.

At the risk of breaking into my best Britney Spears impersonation I *did* do it again. She had texted me to say she was standing on the right but my phone and Garmin had become disconnected from each other at some point so I couldn’t receive texts on my watch and therefore didn’t know where she was. I tried to guess and guessed left so ran over to that side. Oops!

I ended up going over a minute outside my PB and whilst it irked me it didn’t particularly annoy me. I knew where I’d lost it and, apart from that, was pleased with my overall performance. I felt strong and I’m getting stronger. I also had nothing left at the end, my legs felt as if I’d done 26.2 instead of ‘just’ 6.2 … that’s a good sign that I’d done my best.

Also, as I said at the outset, this was a very similar course to February’s Winter Run and I went four minutes faster this time so I’ve got to be happy with that, especially given the temperature.

As with everything else with the day the goody bag/medal area was a breeze to get through – an excellent medal, excellent t-shirt followed by a hassle free bag collection.

I thoroughly enjoyed both this and the mile on Sunday, all being well I’ll be back again next year for another bash at them.

Westminster Mile 2017

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It was back to London this weekend for two races, the Westminster Mile on Sunday and the London 10000 on the Bank Holiday.

First up was the aforementioned Westminster Mile, an iconic route which takes in the last part of the London Marathon, beginning on The Mall at the point the marathon ends, past Horseguards Parade, along Birdcage Walk before finishing back in front of Buckingham Palace.

It’s a special place for me. I love walking around there whenever I’m in London and, indeed, as soon as I got word of my place in the 2016 marathon I deliberately avoided the area because I wanted my next visit to be when I finished the race, something I could use as an additional motivational tool when the going got tough.

Because I had already booked my place in the London 10000 the following day it was a total no brainer that I would enter this too.

It would be a fun, exciting event and would mean another medal! What made it even better was that I persuaded my eldest daughter, Michelle, to take part as well.

She doesn’t have very much running experience and this would be her first ever race. She also suffers from asthma and was an important factor in my #reasontorun for Asthma UK in this year’s marathon.

Even though she’s a total novice she is interested in taking up running so this was the ideal event in which to cut her teeth.

We’d spoken about it for weeks so it was great when the day eventually arrived.

I’m a sucker for a cheesy picture so, the night before, I couldn’t resist a quick snap of our respective running shirts after our numbers had been fixed on.

It was the same again in the morning. After taking the tube from our base at King’s Cross to Green Park I simply had to get a picture of our feet together with the timing chips attached to our trainers.

After a quick look around the pre-race village we made our way to the starting pens. Because we hadn’t booked at the same time we were in different waves. I was ‘D’, Michelle in ‘E’ but because our scheduled start times were only a few minutes apart we decided to see if one of us could ‘accidentally’ slip into the other pen.

It couldn’t have worked out better. I stood at the very back of my pen and Michelle stood at the front of hers, we were separated only be a bit of tape. As the waves in front of us set off the marshals lowered the tape to move everyone forward so Michelle simply stepped into my pen. No harm done and no big deal but it was good we would be able to start together.

Michelle is a young slip of a girl whereas I’m not – I’m not the quickest or the most svelte – so it was going to be interesting to see how we fared against each other.

I had hopes of breaking the 10-minute mark for the first time over a mile so I knew I’d have to set off at a fairly brisk pace but would that have been too quick for Michelle or would she leave me floundering behind her in a cloud of dust?

As it turned out, about halfway down Horseguards I could see Michelle struggling with her breathing so I told her to walk for a few seconds.

That was ok, and after a brief recovery, we resumed running but not long after that she had further breathing issues so another short walking break was called for.

At this point she told me to carry on with my run. I was reluctant to do so but because there were other people walking I was reassured she’d be ok and not left alone.

So I carried on up Birdcage Walk chasing a sub-10 time. Despite the shade from the trees it was a really warm day so it was perhaps a little tougher going than I had anticipated but I was making really good progress and I knew as I turned the final bend onto the Spur Road with the palace in front of me that I’d definitely go under ten minutes.

With the London 10000 in mind the next day I eased off a little, finishing in 9:42 and beating my PB by 25 seconds. I was delighted. I’m more of an endurance plodder and not particularly fast so to go below 10 was superb.

And what of Michelle? She came in at exactly 11 minutes, which was an amazing debut for her given her struggles. She said she’d chatted to a few people and they helped each other to the finish which was great to hear and so typical of the running community.

Not only that, but didn’t she go and get a flying feet picture? I’ve been trying for ages to get one of these and she manages it in her very first race! Pesky kids!

Afterwards we took another walk around the event village and bumped into a friend of mine from this year’s Asthma UK team, namely Phil Jefferies and his wife. It was nice to see him again and was the perfect end to a successful morning all round.

 

Easy does it

Another Monday night, another outing with the 45s … I was tempted to go with the 60s but decided against it at the last moment, maybe on the next step up week.

After last week’s horrors tonight was a relatively straightforward run, starting off as usual at the Leisure Centre before heading down the Galgorm Road, up the climb that is the Old Galgorm Road and then looping back into the town centre on our return to base.

It was a route I had plenty of experience with, so I knew the profile well and made a conscious effort to save myself for steeper sections with the intention of tackling them head on.

That’s what I did with the Old Galgorm Road. It’s a steady climb of around 80-90ft, not massive but still a decent enough challenge.

The route back into town afterwards could best be described as undulating. It’s a straight road so there was the chance to stretch your legs a little. Sometimes I do, sometimes I don’t but I wasn’t really in the mood for it tonight. Not that there was anything wrong, I just fancied an easier night.

When we got back to the Leisure Centre to do our warm down stretches I decided, as per the last few weeks, to run back home to top my distance up to five miles for the evening. Again, I wasn’t really interested in knocking my pan in, it was more a case of gently rounding the evening off although, pleasingly, I was about 30 seconds faster than last week without really trying.

So, no dramas, no moaning, no beating myself up – an altogether uneventful evening – and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that! I’ve got a big weekend ahead, so time to conserve a bit of energy.