Grab yourself a cup of coffee (or pint of lager), this is going to be a long one!
I was lucky enough to be offered a place in the British 10k by New Balance and despite all of my wobbles leading up to the event, I was really excited come race day. It was a difficult journey, recovering from a tough pregnancy and my target times gradually dwindled as time went on from “oh, just under an hour will be fine” when I was still pregnant and naive, to “I’ll be pleased to do an hour ten at this rate” to eventually “I just want to finish” when I realised that my body had been through more than most.
Excitement started to build a few weeks back when I received this beautiful pair of New Balance 1260 v3 shoes in the post:
I’d managed to complete a few parkruns leading up to the event, but come the Thursday before, I still hadn’t gone beyond 5k. Boyfriend and I got his mum over to look after Baby Bels (aka Rose), and we set out to cover 6-7k. Bonus – we covered 7.5k. Bad bit? It was painfully slow, with emphasis on painful.
I woke up the next morning (actually, that isn’t true, I didn’t sleep all night so I was already awake) feeling stiff and my back really hurt. My stomach felt strange and I was sick and ended up staying in bed all day. At this point, I was worrying about Sunday.
No need to worry, Sunday rolled around and I felt good. I’d arranged to meet my friend Jo at Green Park as we were invited to the Cavalry and Guards Club for a VIP breakfast. Because I am Very Important.
The journey itself was not straightforward, but when is it ever in London? I got the bus and promptly fell over and cut my shin which is still bruised. I arrived at North Greenwich to get the Jubilee Line to discover that it was part suspended and I could only get to Waterloo. North Greenwich was full of drunk people still drinking from the night before and hungover people who hadn’t been able to get home the night before. One kind soul offered me a Budweiser from his Tesco bag.
Tempting as it was, hardcore athlete that I am, I respectfully declined. Then I felt smug.
Haha! Drunken fools! I am off to run 10k!
After faffing about on the various lines and taking three tubes to Green Park instead of the usual one, I caught up with Jo and we went on in, where we said hello to Adele. A lovely breakfast in the form of bacon and sausages was provided, but I sadly decided that it probably wouldn’t be wise and nibbled on some toast instead. We then went out to the balcony overlooking Piccadilly where we were treated to an incredible procession to mark the anniversary of World War I. The Help for Heroes runners were out in full force, supporting the cause.
We were ushered down to the start and we grabbed a quick photo with Charlie King from The Only Way is Essex. I hasten to add that I have 1) never seen it and 2) had to look up who he was on Google but he was cute, charming and we felt that if we were having a day out, we should just do it.
Then we were ushered to the start, right at the front, complete with a not very dignified climb over the barrier, ably assisted by a cute guy from New Balance. I may or may not have milked this slightly.
Then we were at the front. With the best part of 20 000 people behind us. Eeeeek.
And then we were off.
The elite runners were the first over the line, followed by the VIPs and Help for Hero runners. Then the masses started making their way through. The first km or so was pretty chaotic with slow runners frantically trying to avoid the faster runners going round them. Running through London with thousands of people past so many attractions is a special experience, but in this number with so many runners of mixed abilities, it is chaos. I have run the Bupa 10k on two occasions and they managed to organise timed pens for the runners, setting them off in order of speed with the faster runners first. This makes sense as the faster runners get a clear run, the slower runners are at less risk of injury and it helps to ease congestion. Unfortunately, this does not happen in the British 10k and it’s a shame. Jo and I as slower runners tried to keep to the right hand side as advised in the race packs but unfortunately we weren’t really safe anywhere and took a few shoves along the way.
It was a humid day and we cleared the first km quicker than planned, but my legs were feeling heavy from the run on Thursday and we slowed down. The rain shower at about the 5k mark was an absolute blessing, never have I felt so grateful for rain. Jo and I had chatted before the race and she agreed to stick with me and I explained that I simply wanted to finish by jogging as much as felt comfortable, before moving to a walk/run strategy. This worked fairly well and although I finished in a pretty spectacular worse of 1:21:54, I’m pleased to have completed it in one piece.
We walked what felt like miles to the New Balance Village where we collected our medals and bags from the New Balance press bus. We chilled out for a while watching people play crazy golf, waiting for my friend Will to join us.
Will is amazing. This was his first run in 11 months and he came in under 52 minutes. And he’d been out the night before. Wow!
Anyway, we posed with the New Balance Shoes and I forgot that they had people inside them and elbowed one in the face. Whoops.
The British 10k is an interesting event as it has the potential to be fantastic. However at £50 a head, it isn’t cheap and there are too many organisational errors, one being the lack of timed pens and the second being the chaos at the end of the race where runners have to go to the bag drops to collect medals, even if they don’t have a bag to check. Congestion would be eased if medals were given out at the finishing line, same as in other large city races. A banana or snack bar at the end for runners would also have been greatly appreciated by many. There was also the issue of different bag drops for charity runners and “own place” runners. With marshals directing everyone to the charity bag drop, this just added to the chaos.
However, we had a good day out on a nice running route. We were looked after absolutely brilliantly by the New Balance crew and the New Balance Village was a fantastic touch.
Five months ago I had a baby after twenty weeks on crutches. I had a severe hemorrhage and needed a blood transfusion. The amount of blood lost could have killed me.
On Sunday I completed 10k.
Thank you SO much to those of you who sponsored me, have read and listened to my rants and generally been super supportive on Twitter, thanks New Balance for the place and thank you so much Jo for sticking with me the whole time and making sure I was ok.
And I’m signing off on that Oscars style speech!