On Saturday, I decided somewhat on a whim to do a 10K race being held in Battersea Park. I haven’t been in a race since March, and felt like it would be fun to try my first race in London. There seem to be lots of races happening here all the time, many of which seem like low-key affairs in parks (I am excited to try out Parkrun).
A 10K race didn’t necessarily fit into my Dublin Marathon training plan, but I’ve been enjoying running so much lately and trying to get faster, so when I came across the Run and Become/Sri Chinmoy/Self-Transcendence series (not really sure what it is called??), I thought I’d give it a go, seeing that it was only 10 GBP and looked easy enough to get there.
I ran 14 miles on Friday morning as my long run of the week, so between that and my IT band acting up, I guessed that this might not be a super fast race for me, but since my last 10K was several years ago, I thought I could at least PR (er, PB as they say in the UK), and get to see what races are like here.
I foam-rolled and stretched like crazy on Friday to try and get as recovered from the 14 miles as I could, and awoke on Saturday with no knee pain. Yay! I slipped out early and hopped on a Barclays Cycle Hire (still getting used to not calling it bikeshare) for the ~3 mile ride to Battersea Park. I have been cycling here at bit, but not as much as I did in DC as I am still trying to learn the roads and get used to being on the left (harder on a bike than you might think). Also, it seems that drivers here are not as accommodating of pedestrians/cyclists as they are in the States, which is saying something. So an early Saturday morning ride was a good way to get comfortable cycling without the threats of weekday rush hour traffic.
I loved this ride; crossing Battersea Bridge with no traffic and views of the sunrise over the city was fantastic. There was no way I could risk getting a photo though!
The race was set up as four loops through the park. Registering onsite and checking my bag was simple and quick. There were only about 200 runners so it was a very low-key start which I enjoyed.
I did notice there seemed to be a lot more men than women, at least compared to the ratio I normally saw at US races, and that a number of people were wearing running club uniforms (kits), which was intimidating….seemed like a serious group of fast runners.
I was hoping to maintain a pace of about 8:00 – 8:10/mile, which was ambitious for me but I wanted to push myself. I was able to keep that pace for the first mile, but my legs felt really heavy and of course my right knee/IT band began to twinge. I dialed it back for the rest of the run, with all of my later miles in the 8:30 to 8:45 range. The fact that it was such a small field kept me going because there was no way I wanted to be last. I mainly focused on tagging runners in front of me to pass or keep up with, and try not to get passed (much).
You could say doing four loops of the same route was boring, but I actually didn’t mind it because after the first loop, I knew what was coming each time and came to expect every turn. The course marshals were great, cheering for runners and offering encouraging words, and there were cups of water offered on every loop.
I finished in 53.57, slower than I intended but given my dead legs, I was happy with it. And it was a PB! My first race in London and altogether it was really well-organized. There was water, orange squash (juice) and some kind of sports drink offered after, along with bananas and cereal bars, which was nice and unexpected.
I hung around for a bit watching the other finishers come in and chatting a tiny bit, and then hopped on a cycle home. A little lonely to not know a single other person at the race, but that will come in time. Altogether, a great little race and I’d be happy to do more like these again.