Before starting Juneathon I hadn’t ever blogged so I wasn’t sure I’d continue once Juneathon had finished. By the end of June I knew I would continue blogging and finally, after 2 weeks, here is my first post-Juneathon blog.
I hope you’re sitting comfortably as it’s been a busy 2 weeks.Following the achievements of Juneathon I gave my legs a pat on the back and rewarded them with 3 days off. It was strange not to be shuffling everyday activities in order to make time for jogging, logging and blogging. There was no time to rest on my laurels and I was conscious of not losing the momentum I had gathered during June in respect of my 800km running challenge for Maggie’s.
After the disappointment of the ridiculously hot Thame 10k at the end of June my target shifted to the British 10k in London on 10 July. No running for the first three days of July meant I had 3 sessions planned in (a race pace 7km on Monday, an easy 8km on Thursday & a short sharp speedy 3km on Saturday morning) before the race on Sunday. All went relatively to plan with paces of 5m12, 5m48 and 4m50 respectively.
Old friends Fate & Coincidence had been secretly plotting so, with Judgement missing in action, Luck stepped in and delivered me an exciting weekend in London.
Saturday morning was a bit more hectic than normal as we had to be in Battersea for midday so it meant hauling my backside out of bed at 7am to get out for my run before heading to the Big Smoke with The Wife. Why the hurry I hear you ask – well I didn’t want to be late for the 2nd annual Real London Game, that’s why!
I’ll try to explain.
The Wife and I like board games. Luckily a number of friend are also partial to a bit of friendly (for “friendly”, read “competitive”) board game action. A couple of years ago, The Wife and I were sat in our friends’ flat in Battersea being introduced to a game we hadn’t played before called “The London Game”.
In essence, you have to navigate London using the Underground to visit 6 randomly selected famous landmarks before returning to your starting point before the other players have visited their randomly selected destinations. With the use of a die to move and some “Hazard” cards each time you change line it’s not as easy as you might think to plan your journey. Even the most savvy commuter is at the mercy of stations being closed without warning!
It was an enjoyable game with more than a little banter and the conversation moved towards reality – could the game be supersized and played for real? You’re damn right it could and so the Real London Game, as it is now known, was born.
Ultimately I could devote a whole heap of blog lines to explaining the ins and outs of both the this year’s and last’s Real London Game but instead I will save that for another day. All I will say is that we managed to contribute £65 to the fundraising efforts of the @3mountaineers – 3 London girls climbing Kilimanjaro to raise money for The Adolescent & Children’s Trust – and had a wail of a time. Thanks to The Mason’s Arms who hosted the start and finish – their food is awesome, especially the beef burger!
There will be a 3rd Real London Game next year so keep an eye on my blog and Twitter feed – I will explain more nearer the time.
With the Real London Game over, The Wife and I headed across town to the Euston Premier Inn, our home for the night, so that I could get a good night’s kip ready for the morning.
Having run the British 10k three times before I knew I’d have to be at the start in plenty of time so it was the second early start of the weekend for us. After a quick hop down the Northern line from Euston to Charring Cross and a wander around to the Duke of York steps, off The Mall, I was at the holding area – along with a good proportion of the 25,000 other runners!
After a slightly teary goodbye from The Wife, who was off to get a spot on the Embankment, it was time.
To find a toilet, that is. My running preparation wouldn’t be complete without a slightly nervous dash to a public convenience. The race organisers had put on some portaloos but the ratio of needy people to WC was about the same as hopeful applicants and available tickets for next year’s Olympics!
Unfortunately for me, when asked about possible other locations for relievement, the only information the steward could offer was “dunno mate, it’s probably too early for the park ones to be open – there are plenty of bushes if it’s for one of those”.
It wasn’t for “one of those”.
Fortunately for me, I’d stood in a similar spot to watch my friend Steve Naylor come 22nd in the Bupa 10,000 only a few weeks before and I recalled my Dad finding some toilets very nearby after a longer than necessary meander through St James’ Park! I used the opportunity for a gentle jog to warm up and after a quick check of a handy park map I found the surprisingly empty conveniences just off Horse Guards were open. Result!
Now all that stood in my way was a 1.5km journey to the start and a good few thousand runners all wanting the same thing – to be as close to the start as possible! It gave me a chance to consider my targets, The weather looked favourable but for most the course isn’t suited to be quick – you spend the first couple of kilometres fighting your way through the crowds of people who, despite fighting their way to the front, are already walking and there are 3 hairpin bends on the course. I settled with my 3 targets from Thame 10k – satisfied = 55 minutes, chuffed = 52 minutes (or 51m47 to be precise, my PB) and ecstatic = 50 minutes.
I’ve been caught out at this race before while waiting to cross the start line – one year I stood in the middle of the masses, as I began to think it was taking an age to cross the start line I took a cursory look over my shoulder only to find the street sweepers clearing up the discarded jumpers, bin bags and empty bottles. I got myself a good way up Piccadilly and found a friendly chap called Fred who was happy to share running stories to help pass the time, whilst creeping along with the crowd.
My Nike+ splits were good and I managed to hit the 5k mark inside my target of 26 minutes. It was helpful to have my crowd of supporters around the 7km mark – it’s my mental brick wall. With the aid of the cheering, and the stern words in my head I bulldozed the wall. It wasn’t easy, but then I guess it wouldn’t be a wall if it was!
The heat was turning up, both in terms of the race and literally – wherever possible I was running in the shade of the big Embankment trees. My splits were still encouraging and as I entered the last kilometre I slowly started to up my pace. As I turned onto Whitehall I gave it my all (as you can see from my official photo!). I was nearly spent but I gritted my teeth and kept going.
And boy I’m glad I did! When the official chip timings finally came out that evening I discovered that I had recorded a new PB.
51 minutes 46 seconds. Just ONE SECOND quicker than my previous best!
Anyway, my running continues, as I motor beyond the 300km mark in my 800km fundraising challenge for Maggies, but I am without a next race to look forward to as my next intended meet, the Headington 10k in September (a lovely flat, quick course suited for PBs) has been cancelled due to the landowner pulling his support for the race leaving it venue-less!
While I search out my next race my training is going well and I’m feeling very comfortable out on the road.
I’ve rambled far too much (mental note – blog little and often) so thank you for being patient and reading to the end! Thanks also to The Wife who has patiently waited for me to complete this. Even more so as my JaffaCake-inspired trifles are set waiting to be tested!