Well this came around quickly, my first goal race of 2019! This was the first time I had taken part in the Winter Run 10k, and after getting serious FOMO in previous years I was so excited to be taking part in the event. For me personally, I always get extra excited (and nervous) about races in London – maybe its because they just always feel bigger, or the fact that the city almost goes into shutdown mode for a few hours and you get to run around the empty streets without the worry of getting hit by a bus!
I had made no secret that I wanted a PB at this event, and up until a few days before I was feeling really good about it. Last week was a bit of an up and down one for me, and on Saturday I had a big wobble, I emptied my thoughts into a blog post, which you can read by clicking here. But anyway, back to the positives… soon enough it was race morning, and time to see if the last few weeks of hard training had paid off!
Charlie (@whatcharlierannext) arrived at my house the night before as we were heading to the race together. We woke up early and I made my standard pre race/run breakfast (Oats with peanut butter & blueberries with a large black coffee – works every time!) before we headed out in the FREEZING cold to get to the start line (and I am not even being dramatic, it was actually freezing!)
We arrived at Trafalgar Square with plenty of time (I always like arriving early!) and headed straight to the toilets for what would be the first of many visits that morning (standard) Now I know this isn’t the most exciting subject, but its an important one.. I was super impressed with how many toilets their were, I was a bit worried that due to how large the event was I would have to queue loads but this wasn’t an issue at all! I think because of the staggered start times it just meant there was a nice steady flow of people throughout the morning rather than approx 20,000+ people all arriving at once. Anyway, enough toilet chat..
Soon enough it was time to strip off the layers and get ready to head to the start line. This is where I underestimated how busy the event was! Because it was so cold I probably left it a little too late to drop my bags off and head to the start zone, I naively thought it would be okay and I would be able to squeeze my way through to the front, but unfortunately this wasn’t the case. I darted my way through a few thousand people but still ended up being pretty far back. Now this isn’t a huge issue as its all done via chip time, but as I was going for a PB I didn’t want to have to worry about trying to navigate around people. I crossed the line after around 2 minutes, which doesn’t sound like a lot, but it meant I already had a few thousand runners in front of me that I had to try and get past. This is perhaps my only slight negative of the race. When you sign up you get allocated a start zone based on your predicted time, but this isn’t something that is enforced on the day, so effectively you could start wherever you want. Now without trying to sound like a bit of a dick, it can be really frustrating when you are trying to run for a time and getting caught up behind slower runners, and not even that, it can actually be quite dangerous if you are not running around a similar pace to other runners around you. I spent the first mile trying to dodge in between people, running up on the pavements – it was exhausting! And it also effected my pace massively. My watch buzzed after the first mile, I looked down and realised I was about 25 seconds behind the pace I needed to be to get my goal time! CRAP! For a few seconds I threw a bit of a strop as I thought it would be impossible to make up that time, but luckily the crowds had thinned out a bit so I was able to pick up the pace.
Once I settled into my pace I was feeling good, I had still given up on the idea of getting my goal time, but I thought as long as I kept the pace I was doing I might just be able to scrape a PB.
It was such a beautiful day in London, it was definitely on the chilly side, but the sky was clear and the sun was shining – it actually ended up being pretty perfect race conditions (for me anyway!) I was trying not to look at my watch too much, from experience I know that GPS can be a bit all over the place when running through London, so I just tried to focus on running hard, chasing people that were in front of me, and not letting anyone over take me… and it seemed to be working!
A phrase I use a lot to explain how hard runs should feel is that you should feel ‘comfortably uncomfortable’ and that would pretty much sum how how I felt for the majority of the race on Sunday. I was pushing hard, there was no doubt about it, but I felt in control, which is so so important in any race or longer distance event.
During those middle few miles, the course was a lot quieter in terms of support, but once we were heading back to Trafalgar Square and the finish line the crowds certainly got larger, and a lot louder! And on this note, I just want to say THANK YOU to everyone who comes out to support these events – whether its because you have friends or family running, or maybe you just fancied doing something a bit different on your Sunday morning, I can’t explain how much it helps and motivates you during a race!
As I was approaching the last 1/2 a mile, I clocked my watch… after some quick mental maths I was in shock, I was still within reach of my sub 37 goal! After my dodgy start I had given up all hope of this, but now I could see the seconds ticking away on my watch it gave me that extra push I needed – it was time to dig deep!
As I turned the corner onto the finish, my watch buzzed for the 6th mile, and that was it, I had 0.2 miles to do and just over 1 minute to do it. I honestly don’t think I have ever ran so hard in my life. I just couldn’t let myself be so close and not do it – I literally felt like I was flying down the finish straight! The crowds at this point were incredible, and their cheers literally gave me goosebumps as I approached the finish. I crossed the line, stopped my watch and looked down to see the screen – I had done it!!
My official time was 36.51 – a 40 second PB! My watch also recorded that I got my official fastest 5km PB of 17.54 during the run as well (my watch didn’t class my official PB of 17.47 as 5km) I couldn’t believe it – how had I managed to get that close to my PB in a 10km race?!
I collected my medal & other finish goodies and started the looooooong walk back to bag drop! I was buzzing, and considering how cold it was, that wasn’t even bothering me!
A lot of members from PMGCoaching were also taking part in the run, and I was so excited to catch up with them all and find out how they got on. Once I headed back to the start zone it didn’t take me long to bump into some familiar faces, and the best bit… EVERYONE WAS GETTING PBs! I was so happy, proud and excited for everyone, it was such an amazing feeling knowing that I had helped people to achieve their goals, I was literally feeling on top of the world!
The official results were up on the website really quickly, and we were all frantically checking to find out what our official times were, and that is when I found out I had finished 2nd female overall!! (Once everyone had finished the race I ended up finishing in 3rd position, but still, I’ll take that!)
One of my favourite stats of the event though was the number of finishers. There were 18,516 people that crossed the line, and almost 11,000 were women!!!! This NEVER happens. Now I do get that it is probably because primarily it is a fundraising event for Cancer Research, but I think its incredible that an event to that scale in London had more female runners, and I just hope it continues to grow and women start doing more and more events!
So overall, I really enjoyed the whole event. As I said at the beginning I always think there is something special about races that take place in Central London, so if you are looking for a fast, fun, well organised 10k next year. I definitely recommend signing up!
Here is a quick summary of my Pros & Cons for the event as a whole.
- You get to run around Central London
- Lots of toilets (very important!)
- It’s for a great cause!
- They have giant polar bears & penguins around the course!
- The bling (obvs)
- A fast course (if that’s your thing!)
- Well organised bag drop (at the start)
- Fairly priced photos – either £20 or £10 if you pre ordered before the race
- Unless you are able to get to the front, the start can be a bit of a nightmare, and very busy!
- Bag drop – at the end it was a bit more difficult to get your bags as there was only one entrance to the bag drop, so you did have to wait around for a little bit. Luckily one of the amazing volunteers went and got mine for me!
Entries are now available for the 2020 Winter Run for just £32! To sign up just click here.
Thank you to Winter Run for gifting me entry for the 2019 event.