Every year I spend months creating a race calendar that, I promise, I try to stick to. Inevitably it all goes a little off piste and the dozen races I started the year with turns into 2 dozen or more. This year I tried to do the same as I always do, I booked myself into a “sensible” number of events (3 ultras, 7 maras, some pootling around wine estates at night in Cape Town) but, as per…
Last week’s jaunt around the Olympic Stadium with Coach Jen did something. It made me actually believe I could go for a PB. We were not bombing it along, instead just comfy constant pace (for once for me) but I finished strong, with a lot in the tank, and was just 5 minutes away from my target. And all this was not on the plan at the start of the year. No tens were. Although, to be honest, tens normally never are.
After the race I was chatting on Twitter with the nippy Gen Huss about our favourite London parks to run in and, looking back, 2 of my top 5 10K times were at Victoria Park. Combined with the events at QEOP my brain was whirring, so I went online and WOULD YOU BELIEVE IT? The next weekend the Runthrough kids were holding their Vicky Park 5K/10K/Half day. And so I signed up, joining Lew Clarke, Caroline Aylott and Matt Bodkin at a run we’d all done before with the aim of a comfy and better time than last week.
After the QEOP race I spent a couple of days at a spa retreat. Oh, it was lovely. Soft, fluffy robes, soft, fluffy slippers, a lack of decorum meaning you needn’t wear clothes at mealtimes, pool, sauna, steam room, jacuzzi, healthy eating, and treatments. One thing this did though, the thalassotherapy pool for sure, was break me a little bit.
Both knees felt niggly, as did an ankle, some ribs, my back, shoulders, neck feels like when it finally cracks it will fair shake the windows, and a wrist. With Transgrancanaria coming up in February and Green Man Ultra a week later, the maranoia had set in. So I was in calf sleeves for Vicky Park, which I normally only wear for marathons and above, and had the worst of the two knees taped to get me through.
The Happy Dugong of Joy
The route is a little different to the Pride 10K at Vicky Park. This would be a 2 1/2 lap race around the park with a little leg to and from the start/finish that, I don’t know about you, but that looks like a happy Dugong to me.
How I did?
After seeing Matt Bodkin and Caroline Aylott at the start and ignoring the warm up as per normal, I watched the 5K race off and then cheered on Lewis Clarke as he passed on one of his 6 laps around the park for the half, before it was finally our turn to run.
After last weeks averaging 5:45 per KM I knew, to knock at least 5 minutes off that I needed to average 5:15 a KM and so I just went for it. Sub 5 minutes for the first 2 and 5:02 for the 3rd KM was a good start and I thought I had bought myself a couple of minutes off the bat. I did start to worry if I was going to burn out. It was a little cold, and a little crowded with 3 races going on at the same time, so you had to zig and zag a bit. But with the KMs ticking over and my watch keeping current pace I started to believe that if I kept going I was going to be close.
Around the 7KM mark the seeds of doubt started to sprout. I could feel myself slowing compared to earlier Ks but pushed on. I could sense the PB slipping away and would have to settle for a good run, a little better than the week before, no PB and ultimately as unsatisfying as a Kale and Quinoa burger. KM8 felt slow. As did 9. But I kept going, I stopped looking at my watch. It wasn’t helping. So I just pushed on, down the dog leg to the start/finish line and done. I actually felt that one. And how did I do? My watch said for a 10.07K race I was 28 seconds under my PB, the official time has me 31 seconds under! Am I happy with that? My 10K PB has been sitting on the spreadsheet since August 2015. Of course I am bloody happy with that, especially as I know I could go faster.
The Horror, The Horror! The Race Photos!
The photos, as with all RunThrough races, are free and available by the next day. But, to quote Doctor McCoy. “Good God, Man!” I have actually, although you wouldn’t know it from these, lost a couple of kilos over the holiday period as I bashed out my last marathon. That top, just isn’t flattering. I knew I should have gone with black compressionwear LOL!
It is always good to see the peeps. I waited at the end to cheer on Caroline and Lew, although he was focused on a pretty decent time all considering and then a couple of hours in the pub. And why not? We had earned it.
It has been a long time coming. My marathon PB goes back to Manchester in April 2016, my half to the short measured Brighton half in February 2016, and my 10K to Pride at (yes, you guessed it) Victoria Park in the long dark shadows of the past. 15th August 2015. How long? 882 days. I will try for the marathon PB at the flatter courses this year, so maybe Vienna, Liverpool, San Sebastian or Loch Ness. But there are no plans for a half PB attempt in the year of our Lord 2018.
I do like to trot out the oldest of old school medals from my first RunThrough race back in 2013, and over the years their cartoony bling started small and funny, then they added to it each year and they got bigger and bigger. Their medals were always small but unique. Now they are normal sized and unique. So win-win.
Well, Gen, now 3 of my top 5 10K times are in Victoria Park. I guess it is the home of the PB. A bit more crowded than just a 10K, with the congestion caused by tiring half marathon runners who started half hour earlier, and those trying their first 5K ten minutes before we started. The organisers do well to stagger it though, and you can zig and zag. It is the coned turns off to the end for the half and 5K/10k that cause the most accidents. Water at the water tables, nothing else, but bananas and the famous flap jacks at the end, and a food stall, massage tent, and coffee stall meant that this had everything you needed from a race.
WOULD I RECOMMEND THE RUNTHROUGH VICTORIA PARK 5/10/half? YES! It is a PB party and you are all invited.
WOULD I RUN THE RUNTHROUGH VICTORIA PARK 5/10/half again? Probably. You know my routine. Spend ages on a race calendar then totally ignore it and add double the races. If I do pick Vicky Park though I am there for a reason, and that reason is a PB.
NEXT UP: The Trangrancanaria Marathon