Event number…. errr I can’t even remember how many events I have completed now but, I think it’s somewhere around 9 I think…
After the calamity I had last year trying to get to this event, Rach and I decided to take a much more sensible approach and head up the day before. This would be putting some of my might lessons learnt theory in to practice, I do take my own advice sometimes!
Last year, I decided to do the Great Newham 10k up at the Olympic park but because I was doing it on my own I thought I would take the cheapest option and head up on the morning of the race by bus. Sounds like a plan I hear you say, this did mean getting up at 4am, which I thought would be fine as I could sleep on the bus on the way up and then have a nice nap on the way back too. Well I some how managed to not set my alarm, and wake up at exactly the same time as the bus was leaving, not so good. I ended up having to drive to Slough (bad enough!) then get the train and tube over the the race venue. I made it just!
If you know me – and Rach will definitely corroborate this – I am the biggest stress head for time on race days or any days really that involves travel. I hate being late so you can imagine, the above would have caused me a bit of a headache! The day was also super hot and I set off way, way, wayyyy to fast. I did how ever set a 10k PR at the time of sub 47:00 minutes, but it was super tough.
Fast forward to this year and you can see why heading up to London the day before was rather appealing. It was also rather a nice opportunity to spend some quality time away with Rachael after a busy couple of months. Lovely!
Travel & panic
I used to work away a lot in a previous job and handily had some hotel points left with IHG which includes Holiday Inn. Most of the London hotels were either already booked out or way too many points, so I ended up picking the hotel in Whitechapel. It was maybe not the most convenient location for us to get to the Olympic but, it also wasn’t the least and as I turned out it was a lot easier than I had first thought.
So we had the hotel sorted, now for the transport.
We also had some Tesco Clubcard points left which after a little investigation meant we could get a mega bus for only 50p booking fee, result – basically a free trip to London! All booked up and I was chuffed.
I went through my prep of getting food, clothing, pre/during/post race nutrition, tickets, liquids, travel plan and weather checks during the week leading up to the race all present and correct. This minimised fuss and stress on travel Saturday great.
Off to the station to get to the bus we trundled. Once we arrived it quickly became apparent that the train wasn’t coming. After talking through our options we decided to drive down to get the bus and leave the car in an overnight car park. Good fast thinking, we later found out that a major signals failure at Bristol stations caused utter chaos so waiting would have been a bit of a disaster.
We arrived in Bath, parked up, and set about finding coffee, which we did an excellent job of. I can happily report that the rest of the journey went without any fuss and we arrived at our hotel a number of hours later.
After dropping our bags off and downing our free coffee at the hotel we had a few hours free before dinner and an early night so we went and did a little sight seeing. Weather was lovely, it was really nice to just have a couple hours with Rachael to wander around pretty aimlessly. We both quickly agreed that London is seriously not for us to live in though, too much traffic, too many people, too many buildings and not enough places to run or cycle! It was great to have Rachael tell me a lot about all the English history associated to the building we were seeing, she’s a real history buff.
Back at the hotel for ease we decided to eat in and went about ordering way too much food, I’m not sure how but we were basically both full after the mezze of olives, bread and hummus. It was seriously good though. I went for a chicken burger no avocado sadly, Rach went for bangers and mash both of which were excellent. I have to say I was seriously impressed with the hotel and would recommend it, I’ve stayed at a few Holiday Inns and this one is definitely the best.
Sound night sleep for us both and its race day!
Breakfast was at the hotel, and we both went with pancakes which came out of a Willy Wonka style machine, that was a first for me and they were very good pancakes too, and after a cup of coffee we were fuelled and ready to go. The trip to the stadium from the hotel was easier than expected. It was one bus that took us straight there via some diversions for the race itself and only took about 30 minutes.
We hit the bag drop, warmed up and were race ready. We were both in the orange wave and had the sun beating down on us as we waited for the gun. The weather although nowhere near as hot as the previous year, was still a factor and it really got warm.
I went out at the same pace as I did in 2016 but this time this was my goal pace of just over 4:00 mins per k. I felt pretty good through the first couple kms, although I had to do a lot of weaving through people and some of the course was pretty narrow. Seeing all of the different parts of the Olympic Park is pretty inspiring and it helps propel you along a little. Around k 3 or 4 I hit my best pace and only k under 4 minutes. After this the heat started to take affect and I started to slow. I did mange to keep a decent pace through until the last couple of k when the heat really started to hit me, by this point though I was nearing the stadium which really got my motivation up again.
This final km started by heading around a 400m training track which had a race track surface and felt amazing under foot. Once that was behind me, the course divided into the underside of the stadium itself, this was fantastic as it offered some of the first shade on the course and meant I would soon be at the finish line. Out into the giant cauldron of the stadium I came and on to the finishing 100 meters my glorious moment taken from me by some chap running straight past me. Unimpressed.
I decided that there was no chance I was going to let him finish in front of me so I dug deep and paced myself up to him and finally past him with about 20 meters to go. This little race at the end gave me a great feeling of my Olympic moment!
After the dust settled, I found my time, 42:19 which was about 4:30 quicker than last year, but slower then I had hoped for I put this down to the heat and the time was good enough for 201st overall. It was a great run though and I felt I gave my all and enjoyed the struggle and effort to finish. Rachael crushed her category as well, always so proud of how well Rachael does and love to watch her finishing.
PR hunting continues…
Travel in advance when ever possible. I have already stated this one previously in my race review for the Eden Project but it warrants a second mention.
Enjoy yourself – whatever the event, enjoy it. It’s great chasing PRs and new distances but make sure you enjoy the events you complete with people you care about. A lot of the enjoyment I get from doing these events is down to the fact I can share it with Rachael, having the chance to mix in some additional sight seeing and quality time with her was a real treat. So make sure you take time to enjoy yourself and soak up the atmosphere of any event you take part in.
Weather – I’m British so like to talk about the weather, a lot, it’s too cold, it’s too hot, it’s too wet, oh really we are having a drought, we need rain but that’s the wrong sort of rain… But when running in more extreme conditions, its really important so plan ahead and be prepared.
Starting placement – This is one I need to put into practice at my next event and have a bit of a mental block over. I have always put myself way back in the pack when it comes to starting position. I have never wanted to be that guy who starts in the elites section and then gets trampled by everyone as they can’t keep up. But, if I’m to beat my PRs, I’m going to need to back myself and start closer to the front. In doing this I will have less people to dodge, I will be able to take the “racing line” so reducing my total kms run and keep my rhythm much better saving energy.
Our next event is a bit different as we are taking on a Sportive together, update to follow!
Let me know if you have any training, nutrition or race questions in the comments!