The Kingston 10K
So yesterday was my last race of 2012, 6 months and 1 week from my first ever race – the BUPA London 10K and it would prove to be challenging for several reasons:
- First, I was still not 100% fit. The knee knock I took at the Royal Parks Half, that was then strapped up for Amsterdam half, and then partially fixed with physiotherapy, and then screwed up again on the hills of the Greenwich Park Movember 10K last weekend, was unhappy with me.
- It was a 9:15 start, with registration closing at 9 on a Sunday.
- It was cold. -1
- It was held in Kingston, which, if you didn’t know, is beyond the south west reaches of London. I live in Central London, as Central as you can get. To get I had the option of 4 buses, 2 subway trains and 3 buses, 2 subways trains and an overland train, or a very expensive cab.
- This journey meant I had to get up at 6:45 to make the train (that only ran twice and hour) that would get me there on time.
- The route was not closed, meaning the danger of traffic and…
- Moreso they didn’t want us to run with music. I need to run with music. I don’t need to hear my labouring lungs and heart in my ears. That would be very off-putting.
- And finally I would be running against the wonderful Heidi who is naturally athletic, thin, and had already beaten me in Amsterdam.
And so I got up at 6:45am on a cold Sunday after waking up at 4, and then 5, and then 6 again but then dressed correctly for the occasion. My kit for the day:
- Underarmour Leggings
- Nike DriFit 2 in 1 shorts
- Balega socks
- Brooks Adrenalin GTS 12 running shoes
- Nike compression t-shirt
- Long sleeved More Miles running shirt
- Adidas F50 sleeveless shirt
- Nike+ GPS sportswatch set to KM and not Miles (as it was last week)
- Science in Sport half-size water bottle. Perfect for this distance.
Additional I wore Adidas track pants and my K-Swiss hoodie, took tasty GU, lip balm and everything in a running backpack.
I decided to walk to the train station rather than bus or subway it there and soon found that my brisk early morning walk included running across Waterloo bridge to get there in time for the 7:48 to Twickenham via Kingston. Still, ensconced on the warm train all I needed to do was ensure that I met Heidi at Kingston so we could head up to the start at the YMCA Hawker Sports Complex together. This was, as always, more tricky than it seemed. Heidi was coming in from the darkest parts of North West London and coming a different route, to reach a level of synchronicity would have been a minor miracle. And indeed it proved thus as I reached Kingston at 8:15 with a lot of runners only to be told that she was running late and wouldn’t get there until 8:35 at the earliest. I recommended a cab but the taxi rank was closed. She suggested a hire car but in the back of my mind, and after a few SMS messages where she said her journey was taking ages, I thought we were never going to make it. So I suggested I go on ahead, after all, it would have been silly for both of us to miss the race (One of the reviews of last year’s race on Runners World included a guy who was late and didn’t get to race – as they give the timing chips out when you arrive). I went ahead and, after a brief detour where I went completely the wrong direction, I ran up to the start with Heidi ordering a car service.
Despite the early start, the frost on the ground, the chill in the air and all the other negatives, there was a warm and cheery atmosphere. A good sized crowd had turned up. I am guessing around a 500 people queued for the loos, and collected chips, and wondered what the hell we were doing there. Although a good thing was that a lot of people had ignored the advice about not running with headphones and therefore did so at their own risk. So Heidi and I joined them.
And so to the race. The published route concerned me as it involved time on the busy Richmond Road and, as the race was so small, it was not closed. It would take us to the River Thames and along the Tow Path through unimaginable mud, ice, and flood waters. Even up until the race there was a flood warning at Walton-upon-Thames.
But I had nothing to worry about at all, other than Heidi. So we lined up together, relaxed and happy and we were off.
The route did involve time on the pavement, time crossing roads that were marshalled well by the Energized Sports team of volunteers. There were cars, and there were pedestrians and even local runners running at us head long as we left the roads after the first couple of KM and hit rock hard ground, ice puddles and the river.
I decided to run my usual race, namely run as long as I could until anything on my body ached, and then walk for a bit. It is this stop-start running nature that has given me the confidence to know I can go most distances and finish, I just won’t ever have a great time, or the kind of time I would be proud of. But pretty soon, as I fell into stride with those around me, I realised I could probably go the distance – something that I decided to definitely do at the 6KM mark, when I turn around and over my shoulder was Heidi keeping pace.
My strapped knee (strapped for mental support more than anything) was holding out, but the strapping itself made my calf swell and I became quite aware of a soreness building up in the lower part of the muscle. I had read a Tweet earlier from Haile Gebrselassie saying he had cramped up in the middle of a run back from injury and, Hell!, if it can happen to him it can happen to me, right? Wrong!
Soon I was upon the 7KM mark, then the 8KM and I was back on the roads of Kingston heading back toward the sports centre. Heidi had not overtaken me and I was determined to do something I hadn’t in the previous 7 races in 2012 – complete a race without slowing down to a walk, or stopping.
Still running within myself the long straight up to the turn into the car park of the facility I was very proud to have completed the task, when so many doubts and worries beforehand had consumed me and broken my sleep. But after the last turn onto frosty ground now made muddy and slippery by the 300 people ahead of me I saw the finish and, rather than sprinting (I didn’t need to kill myself here, there will be plenty of other races for PRs) I ran a comfortable pace through the finish line. Race 8 of 8 completed in 2012, 6 months and 1 week after the first. And my time?
The BUPA London 10K I race in May, my first ever race, after taking up running 2 months earlier, I ran in
The Kingston 10K I ran in
Not a bad improvement in 6 months, I think, especially knowing that there is plenty to come and I am still running within myself. Now that I can run the distance without slowing or stopping, the new thing will be to speed up.
The bling was terrible to be fair. After finishing and collecting them it was clear there were numerous types with different ribbons only with the name of the organisers on them, NOT the event. This was so disappointing. Still, there were so many positives to take away from the race that crap bling is a minor irritation. Still, it now sits pretty with the rest of the medal haul from my first ever year of running.
Oh, and the race with Heidi? She came in less than a minute after me, a PR for her while my PR is still tainted by that disastrously organised and marshalled Teach First 10K in September (although she admitted to slowing because of a stitch around the time I saw her over my shoulder).
Me 57:40 Heidi 58:32
Obligatory race photo to come…