RunThrough have a summer series of races called Chase the Sun which take place after work on weeknights. I'm always on the lookout for races which aren't on Sunday mornings, so a while back I signed up for their Hyde Park 10k on a Wednesday evening. As with all RunThrough's races it's a friendly, simple, turn up and run 4 laps of a corner of hyde park, collect your medal and flapjack affair. And all in time to make it home for tea. The course is almost flat and there's chip-timing. What's not to love?
You'll probably have gathered by now that I quite like running, so when I say that I didn't want to run this race you'll know that is quite a thing. I think it's probably fair to say I've never wanted to do a race less. I was on the edge of sacking it off and trying again a different day. Why?
1. 10k is not my favourite distance. It requires concentration from the off, no time to settle in, it hurts, oh yes and I'm not very good at it
2. Walking through Hyde Park the night before it was rammed. I couldn't see how a race there would work (little did I know there was actually a fight there shortly after)
3. It's been so hot lately. If I was feeling the heat just strolling along, I couldn't see how I was going to hold a pace in that weather
4. I've not raced the distance since pre-marathon and had no idea where I was at
5. It's 4 laps. For some reason I hate 4 lap races. Mentally three is so much easier. There's the first one, then you're over half way, then the last one
6. It was at the same time as a 5k, people were going to be stopping before me
7. I was feeling creaky all day beforehand
8. Despite eating sensible things I had a dodgy stomach in the afternoon and right before the race.
So, a major grump-fest really. I reluctantly changed at work, texted Mr B whingeing "I don't want to run" and jogged to the start. I was early and had no phone or cash so all I could do was lie on the grass and stare at the sky as I waited. Blank mind, nothing to distract me. The 5k-ers went first, then it was our start.
---[skip to the bottom if you just want to see the splits]--
They called out for all the sub 40-ers to go to the front and only a few stepped up - certainly not me. This was not a night when people were expecting to push it. Before my grump BenFP and I had agreed that I'd try hard for the first 3/4k and see where I was at. Better to go out with good intention than to not try and regret later on. However, as the day progressed I had decided that if I could get a decent placing and keep under 41minutes then it wouldn't be a complete waste of time.
Starting out I looked at my watch and I was way off pace but it felt like hard work so I just trogged on, looking at the people ahead and trying to keep putting one foot infront of the other. A guy in a blue shirt came by who looked like he was trying to make up ground and stick to a plan so I thought I'd give it a go hanging on to him. To my surprise I felt my watch buzz and saw a 3'40km split. Unsure if that was good news or something I was going to pay for later I kept with him but as I came onto the first straight of the second lap I was feeling a bit sick. I saw people walking and I can only compare the overwhelming feeling of wanting to stop and sit down to when I ran the Manchester marathon in 2015. I knew I'd carried on then and I think that experience helped me carry on this time. OK, that and my pride! Somehow I ended up passing blue-tshirt guy. I wasn't looking at my watch as I was just trying to keep running and looking ahead. My form felt awful but I saw two guys in front who seemed to be keeping up with each other and decided to try and at least hold the gap between me and them steady. I noticed a 4'09km at one point, then felt better for a bit but then rough again at the same point in the third lap. A 3' something flashed up again at some point but I knew I'd not seen all the splits and wasn't sure where I was at, so I just reminded myself that next time I saw that tree it would be the final time (silly mindgames!) and that it was nearly over.
The guys started to pull away a little so I tried to make sure no one passed me and tried to hold steady. As we came round the final 1/3rd of the lap one of the guys drew away but I seemed to be starting to close on the other. As we came down the home straight I remembered BenFP talking about reeling people in and Roland from AR talking about lengthening your stride just a little each time, so I tried to pick up even just a tiny bit. I was surprised as I managed to overtake him just before turning left to be even more shocked as I saw 39 on the gantry clock. I wasn't going to let this one slip away after 40:02 last time so I gave what little finish I had in me and crossed the line in 39:47 (chip) - a 15 second PB.
The guy I overtook came over to congratulate me and it emerged that he'd got a stitch on the last lap so I suspect it was more a case of him fading than me getting better, but it helped me sneak under 40mins and tick off another running goal for the year so I don't care. I was absolutely gobsmacked. How did that happen?! I know that time isn't earth shattering but this barrier has felt more unobtainable than a sub-3 marathon and I was more wiped out that evening than after any 26miler I've done.
Perhaps it was the lack of expectation, perhaps that hour of calm beforehand, perhaps it's the weight training, I don't know what, but for a race I was ready to hate I came out of it one very happy bunny. Here's my surprised, sweaty face:
|1.00 km||0:04'00"||4'00" /km||124 bpm|
|2.00 km||0:07'41"||3'40" /km||177 bpm|
|3.00 km||0:11'51"||4'10" /km||177 bpm|
|4.00 km||0:15'37"||3'45" /km||179 bpm|
|5.00 km||0:19'31"||3'53" /km||179 bpm|
|6.00 km||0:23'41"||4'09" /km||182 bpm|
|7.00 km||0:27'32"||3'51" /km||180 bpm|
|8.00 km||0:31'41"||4'08" /km||178 bpm|
|9.00 km||0:35'43"||4'01" /km||179 bpm|
|10.00 km||0:39'39"||3'55" /km||180 bpm|
|10.05 km||0:39'59"||6'32" /km||192 bpm|