I was looking forward to today’s Juneathon activity and it didn’t disappoint. Today, as well as my own success at the City of London Mile, I had success as a coach.
Last year I attended the inaugural City of London Mile as a competition winner. This year I was attending as a runner and a coach; I’d convinced (aka signed up) my wife to run her first ever chip-timed and medalled race.
I found a hotel near St Paul’s so we could have a stressfree start to the day. Turns out we couldn’t have been closer to the startline!
The roads were damp and the mizzle was falling but our spirits weren’t dampened.
I was running in wave 2, with Tamsyn nearly an hour later in wave 7 which meant we could be each other’s support crew.
After a brief warm up I was ready to go. The cacophony of St Paul’s bells were an unusual start line soundtrack and despite their volume, couldn’t mask the snap of the starter’s pistol.
Knowing that the GPS signal bounces around the streets of The City like a pinball I was running with my London Marathon combo of stopwatch and heart rate only.
I concentrated on keeping tall and keeping the cadence up. In the end I don’t think I even looked at the stopwatch – just double checked I was working hard enough a couple of times.
Once I turned onto Cheapside I knew it was less than 400m to go so it was time to compose, keep the rhythm in the tiring legs and then be ready to push.
At the “200m to go” mark I cranked up into my final effort only to see the clock ticking 6:01, 6:02, 6:03 and to hear Simon Freeman on the finish line PA announce my arrival at the finish line at 6:05.
Bugger! There’s my sub 6 goal gone. Is that even slower than last year? Perhaps I’d been too conservative in the early stages.
At the same time as I was hugging my wife with a tinge of disappointment my chip time text arrived: 5:59.57!
I had completely forgotten that I was a few seconds behind the gun when crossing the start! That feels better – a sub 6 and a road mile PB (my track mile PB is 5:58.something).
Our hotel was so convenient (and check out wasn’t until noon) that I could head for a shower before we needed to ready Tamsyn for her wave!
Showered, I was now coach rather than athlete. We ran over the key things for Tamsyn to focus on: posture, looking ahead not down and a couple of time checks to ensure she didn’t go crazy with her first race adrenaline.
Off she went to the startline and I took up my first cheering point around 300m in. She looked good as she passed with an excited wave.
Could I get to the halfway point to see her again? There was only one way to find out. Off I ran, clutching her jacket and jumper.
Waiting opposite Bank I spotted her – she’s still smiling. I yelled some more encouragement before running back to where the course returns to Cheapside.
This was going to be the tough part. The last quarter of a mile sees your legs and lungs competing for your attention, both willing you to stop.
I ran along the pavement offering form reminders and encouragement to “dig deep” (other clichés are available!) With a request for the Wymer sprint finish. Tamsyn duly obliged and as she crossed the line the clock was still well below her target of 10 minutes. This girl certainly can!
As I embraced her, my phone buzzed again with her time: 9:41.60. Over a quarter of a minute inside her target. Boom!
I was so proud! I knew she could go sub 10 but I hadn’t expected her to smash it by that much. I’m really happy that she was mentally strong, believed in herself and gave her best.
She is now a chip-timed athlete and medal winner! I wonder what will be next for this former non-runner?
There was time for Tamsyn to get showered before we checked out and returned to the finish straight to watch families, children and the elite do their mile thing. All were inspiring in their own way.
I will definitely be back next year. I hope Tamsyn will be too. I’d like to get more people down too. It’s a fabulous festival of running. I heartily recommend you get involved next year – perhaps it could be a mid-Juneathon meet up?