I’m finishing this post off having just got my 3rd PB in 7 days…but less about that, let’s go back to last weekend! Last weekend was a week away from the long run of marathon training and then turned into a double-header of races (yes, I know, maybe not the brightest idea I’ve had), which couldn’t have been more different in profile, surface, weather, ease…and just about everything.
Race 1 – Southern XC Champs, Parliament Hill. 7.5k of mud and hills.
Race 2 – The Winter Run. 10k of pretty much dead flat London city streets.
So, you now have to contend with TWO race reviews…
*Disclaimer – my own race entry for the Winter Run was complementary – however all other places mentioned were paid for*
Met my mum early at Peter Jones for some browsing (I have A LOT of John Lewis vouchers that need spending) and then wandered around the Kings Road before heading up to Kentish Town for a short walk to Parliament Hill for the Southern Champs. The Senior Women’s race was the second last, meaning all the juniors had had plenty time to churn up the course for us – thanks guys (and girls!)
I mean, in summary, it is a hill and there is mud. Quite a lot of mud. I had gone for 12mm spikes and to be fair, I don’t know if 15mm would even have made much of a difference, such was the mud. (Might be being over-dramatic but it felt like a lot) Morgan & I set 3 aims at the start of the race in the pen. 1) Don’t come last. 2) Don’t lose a shoe. 3) Don’t fall over.
If you’ve never run or watched at Parliament Hill, the start is mad. It starts wide, and then quickly converges whilst going up a hill. Below is a photo from the men’s race – where they had over a thousand starters!
It basically then turns into a mud and hill fest for about 7.5km/4.6 miles. It sometimes becomes a toss up between running slowly through the mud, or adding extra metres by going round it (I went through…!)
It wasn’t easy, and that is probably something to do with the fact I haven’t done much off-road or hill work in the last few months, so to be expected. The main pain I felt was around my ankles – as I’m sure you’ll know, spikes aren’t the most supportive and the constant off-camber surface didn’t do anything to help, especially when your tendons are having to work doubly hard to keep you from falling head over heels in the mud!
It’s a bit of a classic among club runners so I’m glad I’ve ticked it off the list. Performance-wise, could probably have done better but I really struggled with the mud – it just saps your legs and to be fair, I was in a bit of a bad mood so that probably didn’t help and was just happy to get round. Did however manage a bit of a sprint finish (I say sprint, I mean ‘glide through mud’)
173 0:38:44 2520 K Ferguson CLAPHAM CHASERS RC
Works out as 8.15 average (8.57 – 7.36 – 9.21 – 8.03 – 6.53) I think it was fun but I only thought that at the end. Whether I will do it again or not remains to be seen…
I did not fall over, I kept hold of both my shoes AND I wasn’t last. RESULT! Unfortunately we didn’t have enough ladies for a team which was a bit sad. We watched the first lap of the men’s but then it was freezing and I was muddy so we headed off – how they managed 15k across that course I am not sure.
Both my parents were running as well, so we sprung out of bed bright and early (maybe an exaggeration) and hopped on the tube over to Nuffield Health at Covent Garden for some pre-race fun. The best bit was being able to be inside because it was starting to rain – not really real, but that really annoying drizzle that gets you wet!
My mother had a GREAT time with the facepaint and photo booth, and we then hopped into a quick warm up from Nuffield. It wasn’t quite enough for what I like to do pre-race, so I headed off early and got in a few strides and drills before heading down to the start, after awkwardly fan-girling Jo Pavey from afar without actually talking to her…
The bag drop, toilets and start were are surrounding Trafalgar Square, which is a pretty good way to view one of London’s highlights – I think that’s the great thing about any of the city 10ks (London 10,000, London 10k etc) – you get to see an incredible number of London’s key landmarks early enough in the morning to avoid tourists and enjoy the quietness of the city!
We had been given start times (based on expected finish time), but it seemed to just be a mismash of people funnelled into the start and then set off in waves. So I don’t know if there actually was any form of order about it…unlike say the Bupa 10k where they are very strict about who goes in which starting pen! It was good to see Mr Snowman collecting everyone’s spare layers and taking them to a charity shop. The other Mr Snowman was shooting fake snow at everyone. He looked a little creepy. Apparently there was a St Bernard at the start too but we missed that. However Debbie and Kelly found him!
The first 500m was a minefield of people, to be expected when the start zones are a bit haphazard, but I managed to dodge a lot of people fairly early on whilst doing my best huffing and tutting like one of those annoying runners who takes things too seriously (sorry everyone)
Clocked a 7.03 first mile and thought “well if I can just keep that up then I’ll trundle in around the 45 minute mark and that’s acceptable having done XC the day before”. However then mile 2 came in at 6.35….as did mile 3. What is going on? The race was a bit of a blur really, it never felt really really tough and I managed to relax into my stride.
Mile 4 was a 6.46 and I clearly felt I needed to make up for this/benefit from the ever so slight gradient to crack out a 6.24 5th mile. At some point along here I realised I could run 2 x 8 minute miles and I’d still be safely within the 45 mark…so why not push on. Just after 5 miles you pop out on Fleet St/Strand and then it’s homeward bound! I do like running races in the city because I have a rough estimate of where things are, and knew I just had to keep things ticking over and I might be able to snatch a PB.
As I rounded the corner at Charing Cross/Trafalgar Square, I spotted my family support gathering and then it was a straight and easy finish. And snatch a PB I did. By a minute and 6 seconds. 41.26. Not AT ALL what I was expecting!
The only minor niggle is that it isn’t a UKA certified course so it isn’t showing up on Power of 10 or Run Britain rankings waaaaah. To be fair, there were places where people could have easily cut corners so this doesn’t surprise me. There was a drinks station but I couldn’t have told you at what mile, and I have no idea if there were toilets on the course or anything, I was in a bit of a dream world. The snow zones were less snowy that I expected, but I did appreciate being cheered by many, many penguins.
AND I GOT TO HUG A POLAR BEAR! (Plus the medal is pretty sweet)
I didn’t run this last year so can’t comment on the route change, but it appears it was slightly different, which I’m guessing is due to the extensive roadworks on Embankment for the cycle superhighway – which I am hoping will be completed come the 24th April!
Also, one of my favourite things is having drummers on the course. For some reason I find it motivating so please, London races, continue to do this!
I then went an ate a huge plate of steak tartate, chips and a nutella souffle. I then couldn’t move for the rest of the day.
Huge thanks to Human Race for the entry, Nuffield for the pre-event rain protection and my ever-supportive family and boyfriend for braving the pretty grim weather…
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