The British 10k
There’s no doubt about it, in 20 years time we are going to look back at 2018 as an absolute classic of a year. We’ve got political unrest, kids trapped in and rescued from caves, all out lawns have gone brown, and we’ve all got far too excited about England being in a World Cup.
Sunday 15th July was my chance to write myself into the sub 40 10k sporting history books (read : online results pages) at the Virgin Sports British 10k, So called because it’s put on by Virgin Sports, it’s located in Britain and you have to run approximately 10,000 metres to complete it. Genius naming if you ask me. Sub 40 was something I wasn’t sure I could achieve at the beginning of the year, but, coming so close at the Vitality 10k, I knew I had it in me, I just needed to find it.
Like every other race since April, this one was set to be flipping baking. Emails were sent with high importance, prior to the event, to ensure everyone was well hydrated and that they should slow down because of the conditions. So on the morning of the race, I stocked my body up with salty water, showered in factor 50 and headed towards the centre of town for the big jog.
I always enjoy heading to a race, the sense of occasion as you start to see other runners, in their various attires ,all with a square of paper safety pinned to their chests. I avoid all eye contact with fellow competitors so they have no way of working out my race plan and handing it back to me as they fly past me on route. I deposited my kit bag and headed in the general direction of the start with Emma (IG @lunch_and_lycra) with the Westminster100. The Westminster100 are/were 100 female and male runners who were running to mark the anniversary of 100 years of Women’s Suffrage. Photos were taken, announcements were made and, after a gentle warm up, it was time to start the race.
Game faces went on, the klaxon sounded, confetti filled the air and we were off. Despite the initial congestion of the start, mile 1 flew past and, like a poorly diluted Berrocca, I was feeling pretty damn strong. I knew the pace I needed to keep for a sub 40 and I was pretty close to it, this could be the one. We headed up Regent Street to one of the first of 6 turning points. “6!” I hear you cry, “that sounds like the course was designed by someone with a broken Spirograph” and you would be correct in assuming this was the case!
Mile 2 past without incident and, just after that, it won’t shock you to find out Mile 3 appeared. This is when I first started to regret my earlier pace, if only I’d followed the warning advice in that email and been a bit more sensible. The wheels were certainly starting to wobble, my running form started to take the shape of a poorly constructed car at a soapbox derby. There wasn’t much I could do now though apart from survive the following miles.
Fast forward a bit and it seemed to take an age for mile 5 to come round and when it did, it didn’t disappoint. It sucked even more than miles 3 and 4 and contained my least favourite bit of the race. A stroll across Westminster bridge on a nice sunny day sound idilic, but not when you’re running a poorly paced 10k in blistering conditions. It was the 5th time the course turned back on its self and I was less than amused now. This was it, I couldn’t do it, I was going to have to walk, is what the negative side of my brain kept saying. I almost adhered to its evil ways, I was so close to stopping, I was convinced I would have to, but I told myself if I could just finish this mile off I might just finish in under 40 minutes. I didn’t stop I kept going, and I’m so glad I did.
The finish line appeared like a mirage in the distance and the commentators voice became clearer and clearer. I broke into a sprint, so much for needing to walk. I’m always amazed at how much more the body has to give even when the head claims its running empty. I looked up and through my blurry eyes I could see the clock. It read 39 minutes and something. I sprinted even harder, I was going to do it! I let out some kind of roar as I crossed the line, I’m sure I even heard someone laugh at me, but there it was in all its glory, my finishing time 39:33.
I hovered around the medical staff for a bit because I felt shocking, gained my composure, handed Dame Kelly Holmes *CLANK* a bottle of water and headed to collect my medal. What a day, all this energy spent by 10am, it was time to go home and do absolutely nothing for the rest of the day.
I was super pleased to have run a sub-40 10k, it had been a personal goal that I had set myself at the beginning of the year, and to achieve it felt quite special. Times are what keep me motivated as a runner, they're certainly not the be-all and end-all of running, they're what I use to make sure Im constantly improving. We all have our reasons to be out there on race day. After the glory had past, my mind did start to wander, what am I capable of on a colder day? I'm looking forward to finding out.