In the lead up to the 2019 BMW Berlin Marathon, I’m running shorter events to add some speed and sharpen me up. Thanks to the London Marathon Events Team and New Balance for the invitational places and hospitality. And thanks to my coach for the training to my new 10k PB.
Over the Spring U.K. Bank Holiday, on Sunday I took part in the Westminster Mile (WM) I didn’t race it, I ran it as my shakeout run finishing in 9:34 min.
I raced the Vitality London 10,000 (VL10) as my “A” race on Monday finishing 10k in 38:35 min. This race is the primary focus of this article.
Both the VL10 and WM have a strong link to the Virgin Money London Marathon route, which allow you to experience running past Buckingham Palace and down the Mall on a closed road route.
Vitality Westminster Mile: This starts along the Mall, and follows the perimeter of St James’s Park going along Horse Guards Road, down Birdcage Walk finishing in front of Buckingham Palace. It’s a fast route which has PB potential due to the wave starts.
Vitality London 10,000: With roads closed to traffic, the race starts on the Mall and follows a clockwise route around the City of Westminster and the City of London, Admiralty Arch, Nelson’s Column, St Paul’s Cathedral, the Bank of England, Leadenhall Market, the London Eye, Big Ben, the Houses of Parliament and Westminster Abbey before finishing in front of Buckingham Palace.
Pre race: Bib numbers with pins. Timing tags, with ties for your shoes. A clear storage bag, numbered bag stickers, wristbands etc are sent to you in the mail and they arrived on time. The final instructions were clearly noted online.
Advice from Coach John:
Regarding the race, just go run it hard. Forget the watch and race hard. You’re in good shape right now so don’t use the watch as it will very well hold you back. Just try not to blow up.
Don’t blow up…haha! I thought, what’s the worst that can happen after I’ve thrown up at the finish line of the Manchester Marathon!
So my tactic was to run hard and not look at my watch until the finish. Did I do it? Well I’d be lying if I said I didn’t look at it. But the clock watching was very infrequent.
I looked at my watch three times in total, I ignored the mile notifications. In the end I think this helped me just trust myself run by effort, and not by watch stats.
◦Maurten 320 drink mix;
◦ Bagel with peanut-butter. Shared with my daughter, as per the bite marks. First world problems when getting an instagram ready photo…
Race nutrition: The 10k is hard work over a short distance. I’d fuelled up for breakfast and dinner the evening prior. My plan was to run sub 40 minutes so I didn’t take any Maurten gels in the race but I had two small mouthfuls of water during the race.
Start: There are seven waves which are staggered by 10 minute increments. I was in the first wave blue start.
Due to my timekeeping I didn’t leave a enough time to get my warm up done and head from the media tent to the start line. As a result the blue pen was full when I got there, so I spent a long time dodging and weaving to the finish, finishing 764th out of 19,465 finishers.
The race: When I’m racing, I don’t really pay full attention to the sights and sounds around me, but it’s just an ongoing conversation of monitoring my running form and effort.
It’s easy to get distracted by external factors, you can’t control and I tried not to get too focused on the external stuff, such as the dodging and weaving through the crowd of runners.
Towards the end, I’m not going to lie I was thinking about lunch and dinner. It’s a great motivator.
But mostly I was just trying to stay present. Running fast is uncomfortable and most of the race was an internal conversation about staying in that zone as long as I could, giving my best effort.
I didn’t want to finish and have to give my coach an excuse for not bettering my old PB of 39:30. And blame external factors, like the weather, other people, etc… Like your parents, your coach always know’s when your making excuses, and I just didn’t want to be that guy.
I’ve learned from previous races, that you need to park certain feelings during the race and pick them up afterwards.
On the whole I gave my best effort, earned a PB… But I was annoyed that I didn’t get to the start earlier. Because a faster time was in my legs, however that’s life.
It’s about taking responsibility and learning. I enjoyed the race and will be back… But. Next year I’ll be in a tent by the start line a week before the race!
The people: I was star struck to meet Dame Jessica Ennis-Hill.
It was great to see so many familiar faces in the running community and make new connections. Thank you all!