Race Review: BUPA London 10K 2012 (The first race)

So I could run, or jog at least but the marathon was and is a long way off, so what do do?

This is an odd situation. All my talk of marathon running and it’s benefits was listened to by my friends and, after a bit of a right hook and left jab my friend Andy convinced Frank to run the Amsterdam marathon with him. Frank’s friend (another) Andy then agreed to run, and then my friend Oscar and friend of a friend Suma. So suddenly the Amsterdamathon at the end of October was on everyone’s calendar. Well, everyone’s calendar but mine. I had not signed up. I had no idea whether I would be ready so set about planning my route to Amsterdam.

A marathon, 42 kilometers was three times what I had run, and by “run” I mean jogged but the 50 Cadences of the US Military, shoes, clothes and pace meant that I had renewed belief, so I promptly booked myself on the BUPA London 10K in May. It was 2 months away, surely I would be ready to run for 10K. Surely.

So I continued to run 3 nights a week, once at the weekend, upping my time from 45 mins to an hour by adding 5 minutes per week for 3 weeks and then sticking with the hour all to the military cadences, and all at about 8.5kph.

But what about speed? 

Yes, that whole stamina versus endurance question, what about it? Well, my thinking was that after 22 years of NOT BEING ABLE TO RUN, the time could go hang as long as I finished the race without completely embarrassing myself. Note: By completely embarrassing myself I mean walking the whole way. So I ignored speed but then read something along the lines of: 

…a treadmill is a moving cushion, spongy and soft. It creates inertia for you. For a treadmill to mirror the road you will need to run at a 2.5 incline as on the road you will need to push yourself along as the pavement is not moving beneath your feet.

And so I continued at 8.5kph at an incline of 3, for 4 weeks until… I had to the go to the US and therefore would spend the week before the race, right up to the day before, not training.

The London BUPA 10K experience

I chose to run for Diabetes UK, partly because I know people with diabetes, but mostly because they had places. I then had to actually fund raise. Now, this used to be easy when a kid. You would walk around with a sponsorship form and people would sponsor you a penny a mile. How does this work in adulthood? I don’t know, maybe the same thing but in the office, and people sponsor a pound a mile? I had no clue, so instead looked into it and found that the site JustGiving.com allows you to choose a registered charity, and a registered race. Diabetes UK and the BUPA London 10K. Simple. I then blanket bombed everyone I knew and collected several hundred for the charity.

Now the beauty of JustGiving is that you don’t have to do anything. When people donate they actually donate to an Escrow account I think, and then at the end, after a couple of months, the charity collects the cash. As a runner you do not need to do anything. This is so simple that since then I put subsequent races on there.

Now, running for a charity means you get a t-shirt. The Diabetes UK t-shirt that came though was so small I could not wear it without feeling bad about scaring anyone who laid eyes on me. It also came with blue troll hair stuck to a headband that spelled out the name of the charity.

Of course, not all charities are like this. I am running for the MS Society in October and Help for Heroes in September. Both have very sensibly coloured running vests and no troll hair.

And so there I was, the day of the race. I had read everything I could – do not bomb off at the start when you are jacked up on adrenalin, do not drink too much as the portaloos are few and far between, the drinks stops are a traffic jam and accident waiting to happen. But somehow I decided to walk to the start from my house, a 45 min warm up if ever there was one.

Oh, I should probably mention the course. The BUPA London 10K is arguably the most amazing charity run. It started on the Mall outside Buckingham Palace, from where you run along to Nelson’s column at Piccadilly Circus then drop down to the embankment, with the London Eye on the other side of the Thames. You run along the river until you hit the City, and turn up and run by Saint Pauls Cathedral, the Bank of England, Leadenhall Street Market to Fenchurch Street then back along the embankment, by the Houses of Parliament and Westminster Abbey and finally up and back into Saint James’ park. A great course.

I had the military cadences on my iPod but for some reason, mostly because of my time in NY spent with friends (who I listened to without thinking), I had created a running playlist of mostly 80s and 90s music. This is what I listened to as I lined up with everyone, wondering if I should have brought a bag like everyone else, and dropped them at the baggage drop, desperately needed to urinate after three bottles of water and/or Lucozade.
They send the elite athletes first. The fantastic Mo Farah included. Incidentally, as I was running by the 3rd kilometer marker Mo was running the other way past the 8km marker. He completed the race in 29 minutes, not too far off my current 5K PB of (27mins)
You are then grouped by your ability, or your own naive perceived ability, as your grouping is based on the figure you fill in on the website in the How Fast Do You Think You Will Run box. I said an 1 hr 15 and was put in the green group. 
So, the elite guys start, and you slowly shuffle toward the start…
Oh, oh, I missed the cool timer chip stuff. The big races like the BUPA London 10K give you a t-shirt, magazine and a timer chip. The timer chip clips to your shoe and scans you as you cross the start line, the kilometer markers and then the finish. You can then get a text telling you your time, as well as seeing it on the website. 
Anyway, so I needed to urinate, and was shuffling by more and more portaloos with queues outside them, but then realised that it didn’t matter when I crossed the START line, as I had the chip so nipped to the last portaloo before the START line and was so damned relieved that I did, for it allowed me to enjoy the race a lot more.
Okay, by race, I don’t mean race. I mean look at me.
Do I look like I race? No. But I learned some lessons.
  1. People walk. Some were walking from the off. They were mostly rather dumpy ladies carrying buckets to collect for their charities on the way (very commendable) and I was glad of this. However, you do have to run around them. I will write something later on FARTLEK training, which makes this much less of a pain.
  2. People walk! Okay, I walked too, at the 4K marker on the embankment, and at the 7K mark heading into Leadenhall Market, when I finally realised the 80s/90s playlist was killing me and reverted back to the cadences. But people walk a lot, and they walk at the sides. Beware.
  3. The water stops are an accident waiting to happen. You come up on them running and people just STOP. They literally just STOP. Collisions happened.
  4. People get hurt. I saw blood, a lot of it from a few guys who fell over each other. Concrete is an unforgiving material, falling on it is not good for the body.
  5. People faint and pass out. I counted a dozen people, mostly from the 8K mark, but they were flat out. These were not all big or old people either, they looked fit, like runners or something. It was hot that day, 83 degree apparently. I am guessing they just didn’t stay hydrated.
  6. Don’t kill yourself. You have to listen to your body when you run. You can only go as fast or for as long as it will let you. Pushing it will end up in you walking, needing water, getting hurt, or passing out.
But, as you can gather, I got through it all. I ran the race in 1 hour 7 minutes. Not brilliant I know, but this was the 27th of May. I started running on the 1st March. I think I did pretty well, and was very proud to receive my finisher’s medal.

And what’s more it prompted me to book myself on more races, in my goal to a run a marathon. I booked myself on the:

  1. Nike British 10K in July (which I shall cover later, including comparing the races, the organisation, and include Nike + and RunningBug.co.uk)
  2. BUPA Great Yorkshire10K (Sheffield) in September
  3. Royal Parks Half Marathon in October
  4. Amsterdam Half Marathon in October

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