The last few weeks since London have involved me trying to locate my legs. For the first 10 days I couldn’t run a step without my quads seizing up and telling me not to bother. So with the impending half-ironman triathlon looming large on the horizon, I decided I should probably do some swimming. And a bit of cycling.
Whilst I was twiddling my thumbs and being frustrated about not being able to run, I stumbled across this local(ish) event and decided it looked like fun (and also cheap – £13!). So this Sunday I made the journey across to West London for the leisurely 11am start time. The race was a fairly small affair, with only about 150 or so taking part in the 10K, with others running 5K and a kids 1K fun run also on offer. With race numbers being sent out in the post it was a case of just turning up 15 minutes before, dropping off your bags and racing – easy.
I’d decided to lay down a pretty heavy day of training the day before – running a fairly hard 5K parkrun (19.26) followed by a trip to Brockwell lido for a bit of open water swimming training. I backed this up with a 56 mile bike ride out to Guildford and back. To say my legs were feeling pretty heavy whilst warming up is probably an understatement. I thought running anything under 40 minutes would be a decent result (and a really tough training run), so the plan was to run at 4 minute kilometres for as long as I could.
The start was located on a large field with a cricket match going on slap bang in the middle of it. The route consisted of a lap of the field (running around the cricket pitch avoiding any stray balls), followed by 2 laps of the surrounding suburban streets before finishing with a reverse lap of the field to end back at the start. I lined up a row or so back from the front ready for the off, hoping to get a quick getaway and not get caught up in the crowds. After the first lap of the field I found myself in the lead group of about 6 people which was quite an odd experience. However, the chap that eventually won the race had represented Egypt at an international level, and he and a few others slowly moved ahead during the first kilometre.
The lap took us through some residential streets, dodging parked cars and pedestrians, although marshals were placed at all road junctions and very kindly stopped traffic so you could cross without having to stop or constantly worry about being mown down by someone out on a leisurely sunday drive. We then rather bizarrely came onto Sudbury high street and were presented with fresh obstacles (mostly shoppers) to weave our way through. Another first for me was being given shouts of encouragement by a few of people waiting for the number 76 bus. After heading through the local park we found ourselves back at the start and the halfway point. I went through 5K in 19.20 – a bit too fast and I knew the second lap was going to hurt.
At this point I was in 6th place with big gaps both ahead and behind me so the race turned into a bit of a solo time trial. This is a negative point about some of the smaller races as you have no one to chase up ahead and it’s a real mental battle to hold the pace at the same level all the way to the end. Sunday reminded me just how hard the 10K distance is, and the last couple of kilometres seemed to last forever as I tried not to fade. As I entered the field for the final lap, I could see the guy behind me slowly creeping up on me, so I dug deep as I made an effort to pull away from him.
I crossed the line, absolutely spent, as per usual. Without realising it, I’d actually run a small personal best of 39.27 (6 seconds, but every second counts!), and finished in 6th place overall. The organisers had put on a BBQ and live music afterwards, so I tucked into a well deserved bacon roll and enjoyed the sunshine.
As mentioned above, in just 11 days time I’ll be taking part in the Outlaw half-ironman triathlon. This involves a 1.2 mile swim, a 56 mile bike and a 13.1 mile run. Personally, I couldn’t think of a better way to spend a sunday morning!