Guest Post – The British 10k London: race report

This post originally appeared on Ben’s old blog, Running From the Physio.

Editorial comment:
At the weekend my wife, Lolly, ran the British 10k London, here are her thoughts:

2012 was the golden year of running for me.  Although I’d completed a 10k in 2010, it was the year that things finally happened.  In May I did the Bristol 10k without stopping to walk, and in September I set a PB of 1:07:43 at the Cardiff 10k.  But it wasn’t without its difficulties.  Such as two chest infections.  By the start of 2013 I was struggling to get out running at all.  And then I found out I was pregnant.

Fast forward to the end of 2013 and I knew I needed a big motivator to get me back up and running in a timely and positive manner.  A couple of years earlier I’d read about this 10k that seemed to be a sightseeing tour of London, and this seemed to fit the bill as a target.  It seemed exciting enough to get me back out and prove that I could still do what I’d done before having a baby.

My training got off to a bit of a rocky start (really, they mean it when they say not to start running too soon) but I soon got into my stride.  With a training plan written by my lovely husband, and the immense help of weekly Buggy Fitness sessions, I was getting stronger and more confident every week.

On the morning of the race itself I was woken up by the chattering sound of a 9 month old baby, but mercifully only at 6:45.  This gave me plenty of time to get ready and head out on the bus and tube to Piccadilly Circus.  From there finding the baggage bays was easy, and there was then a well signed route to the start, ready for the much publicised opening ceremony.  I assume the ceremony took place, as when the race started I saw the Military Wives up on a balcony, but there were no loudspeakers where we were waiting and so we didn’t hear a thing.

The British 10k operates a wave start on a first-come-first-served basis.  I think I was in the 3rd or 4th mixed-ability wave to start, and was very excited to cross the start line.  The mix of paces actually suited me, as it allowed me to run my own race rather than try to match others.  And because I was prepared for the situation, I wasn’t fazed by faster runners from later waves overtaking me.  Not sure I’d have enjoyed it as one of those faster runners though.

The support from spectators along the route was intense, particularly near the start and finish.  Actually, I kind of found it too intense and was quite glad when it eased off around the 3k mark.  I settled into a nice rhythm and tried to ignore the increasing humidity wreaking havoc with my asthmatic, cold-affected lungs.

I knew Ben was planning to stand and watch somewhere between the 4k and 6k markers, and so I kept an eye out during this time.  A short rain shower provided a blessed relief, but running through a road tunnel was horribly hot and stuffy.  Not to mention the smell of sweat.  Shortly before the 5k marker I, for some reason, decided to check the time and so looked at my watch.  It, of course, showed my stopwatch time instead and a realisation dawned – I was on track for a PB.

I eventually decided I must have missed my supporters and was just trying to not be disappointed… when I saw them.  It turned out I’d already run past them once and just not noticed.  Smile planted firmly on my face I started to focus on the rest of the race.  Looking up I realised we were now running back along the Thames, and all those landmarks I’d expected were right in front of me.  It was pretty spectacular.

Unfortunately things started to unravel around 7k.  The humidity really got to me and, despite respite from the superbly organised water stations, I had to slow down and felt it would be a struggle to get to the end without walking.  Running over Westminster Bridge in bright sunshine compounded this issue, particularly as I knew we were just going to turn around at the end and run back.

The run back, though, was one of my favourite stretches of running ever.  There was a breeze in my face and I was running straight towards iconic buildings.  Just several winding roads to go and the end would be in sight.  I missed both the 8k and 9k markers (they weren’t exactly hi-tech or very prominent) and was just thinking what a very long kilometre this had been when we turned the corner and I saw the finish.

A generic photo of Big Ben from 2009. But it’s still there!

Approaching the line I was amazed to think I’d almost done it, and somehow managed to summon up the energy for a small sprint finish.  A few paces past the end I started to walk and stopped my watch.  A few paces further I dared to look at it and, if I’m honest, a few tears appeared.  In my first 10k since having a baby I’d beaten my PB by over two minutes.

From there the race experience went somewhat downhill.  After a bit of walking I was handed a bottle of water, and from there the runners seemed to merge into the general public.  I followed lots of other runners, in the hope that they knew where we were going, and eventually one of them found an earlier finisher who helpfully pointed us in the right direction.  Just as well really, as there were no signs at all pointing us back to our bags.

Back at the baggage bays there were lots of long queues.  It seemed that during the hour that the bays were ‘closed’ no sorting had been attempted, and so there was lots of shouting about descriptions of bags.  Our guy seemed particularly useless, unable to even master “it’s by your left foot”.  The baggage guys were also giving out the medals.  Mine didn’t give me one, but another runner managed to reach into the box and get one for me.

If there were goody bags I never saw any sign of them.  With my bag finally on my back I headed back to the tube to meet my support team back at the hotel.  The complete lack of organisation had put a real downer on the end of the race.  It didn’t end there, with the race results page producing random timing information for random runners.  Thankfully someone posted online where to get the results from the chip company, so Ben was able to look up my actual time.

Despite the issues, and the fact I felt uncomfortable with the number of people, I really enjoyed the race and am glad I did it.  I’m just glad I don’t have to do it again now.  It’s always important to look at why you did something when you evaluate how it went.  I signed up to this race to help me to get out running, and to prove that I can still do what I could do before.  While the first criteria was passed with flying colours, the second one failed.

During the course of my training I ticked off the longest solo run I’ve ever done – 3 times.  I fitted training around looking after a baby, my husband’s training schedule and, right at the end, going back to work.  I ran on days when I felt I could barely open my eyes.  The truth is that I have changed.  Things aren’t the same as they were before.  Because, before I had a baby, I couldn’t run 10k in 1:04:50.

Leave a Reply