The best thing about racing a new distance is, of course, the automatic PB. And so it was with the race I just ran on Saturday, the so-called Greenwich Park Tough 15KM Run.
I have to say that I wasn’t exactly feeling at the top of my game when I woke up on Saturday. My glutes and thigh muscles were feeling a little sore and strained as I’ve had a bit of an active week, supplementing my treadmill runs with a painful krav maga session on Tuesday and a squash game (my first in quite a number of months) on Wednesday.
As this race clearly wasn’t something that I had trained specifically for, and I was only looking at this event as another training run, I wasn’t too worried about feeling a little tired and was keen to get out and get in a longer than usual run.
The route went through Greenwich Park, which meant that it was really rather hilly. One lap around the park was 5KM, so the 15KM distance meant 3 laps up and down the park. Thankfully, it was nowhere near as cold as the 10KM race round Regent’s Park two weeks ago. It was windy in parts, but again, much more bearable than my previous race. Really, it was the short and steep uphill section at around the 3.5KM mark and the longer downhill followed by the immediate uphill section in the last kilometre or so that were the real killers.
So I used to be someone with a real phobia of hills (which nearly killed me at the Connemara Marathon). I resolved to try to overcome this fear this year and have been incorporating a bit of hill work in my running routine. It’s nowhere near as structured or intense as it needs to be, but it seems to be a good start, as I found that I didn’t rue those mini-hills as much as I normally would have. Though I hated them in my first lap, I actually found myself doing the majority of my overtaking over these sections in my 2nd and 3rd laps which gave me some pleasure in my pain.
The race itself was a small affair, casual and well-organised. Registration opened over an hour before the race start time of 9.30am. There were an adequate number of porta-loos available for the number of runners (which were surprisingly clean) which is always a good sign. There was even a cheerful commentator pushing everyone on, with a good number of volunteers dotted around the route, providing friendly support and direction to the runners.
There was one event that didn’t go according to plan however. A pretty bad accident occurred in one of the longer downhill sections, where (I think) a cyclist collided with a runner, resulting in the cyclist falling unconscious in a large pool of blood stemming from a head wound (she wasn’t wearing a helmet). This horrendous accident didn’t interrupt the race, though the accident was clearly visible for all to see. We saw a medical helicopter and police cars enter the scene when I finished the race about 15 minutes later, so I really really hope that both parties involved are now on the road to recovery without any permanent damage.
In terms of my performance, my final time was 01:16:46. This comes out to an average speed of 11.72 km/h or an average pace of 5:07 min/km. I’m pretty happy with these results, especially when I think about the elevation profile of the route and am feeling really encouraged with my performance. My 5KM lap times were as follows:
- Lap 1: 00:26:42;
- Lap 2: 00:23:56; and
- Lap 3: 00:26:08.
It’s pretty clear that I need to even out my pacing a little, but that will come with practice. In terms of my position compared to the other runners, I managed to achieve the following (which I’m ecstatic over):
- Overall position: 36 of 110; and
- Female position: 6 of 40.
Awesome! I’m feeling pretty chuffed with this race and am now trying to find a suitable marathon to start training towards. I really feel that I’ve now got the base fitness to commence a 4 month (or so) training cycle and I’m really looking forward to pressing ahead with it. Onward!