May has come round quicker than you can say ‘Run’, which also meant that my May challenge loomed large and the tri season is knocking loudly on my door. The May challenge was intended as the ‘sub-40 at 40’ race to finally clear up what I perceive to be a slight shortcoming of my athletic achievements: breaking 40 min for 10km (never mind not breaking 4:30 min for 1500m, which still irks me no end). So, I had been on the hunt for a flat, fast 10k course within reasonable travel distance and that’s how I found the Royal Berkshire Green Park 10km.
After my half marathon PB in March, I was confident that I could run sub-40 and so I embarked on a more 10k focused training plan at the beginning of April after the Tour of Flanders. Things were progressing well. But, as always, there’s that one hick-up that throws it. In mid-April, I went out for a lunch run in glorious sunshine. Just a jog. And tripped up massively. I scrambled to stay on my feet. In hindsight, I think I would have been better off to hit the deck.
The result was that my whole lower back, glutes and hamstrings seized up. I felt like I had been in a car crash, including the whip lash. Instead of running, I focused on stretching, tennis ball release, foam rolling and establishing some range of motion. My right side complied, my left remained stubborn. At the beginning of May, I could finally start jogging. Speed work was unthinkable, but I was happy to be running. At this point I adjusted my expectations to just giving it a good bash and getting round in one piece.
It was a glorious day! The sun was out, no cloud in the sky and at 9am it was already positively boiling. One of my friends, who was going to race had bad news the night before, so she just dropped us off at the race and headed home. We were all a bit upset and my head was just not in the right place from then on. Add to that that the postman hadn’t delivered my race pack (he still hasn’t two weeks after the event) and you can imagine that things were less than ideal.
The organisers were brilliant though and they had been even from before I signed up. They were extremely responsive to questions, supplied local transport information and kept me posted via text messages. And so I was sorted out with a new number within minutes. Number 2 became number 595. Off to the bag drop which was well organised and staffed with plenty of helpful volunteers. Quick warm up jog (another short coming due to the sequence of events), and off to the start.
I set off in what I thought was a good, solid pace, trying to push it a bit so I would maybe stay around the 4 min/km mark. I found myself in a 3-way battle with two other ladies and we worked off each other. About 3km in, we turned at a roundabout and I realized we weren’t that far off the male leaders. Uh oh. It also meant, I was at or near the front of the women’s race, which I found pleasing.
Pounding out a good rhythm, we pushed on through 5k. One of the ladies offered me some water. How nice was that? Considering the heat, it was quite welcome. At the waterstation at 6k, I grabbed a water bottle, had a couple of sips and poured the rest over my head to stay cool. I started to struggle to keep up and at 7k, I lost contact. Shortly after another lady passed me and I desperately tried to hang on to her coat tails. To not much avail. I struggled. A lot. Time to refocus. I started checking my body. Pelvis tucked. Yes. Arms swinging tight. Yes. Long upper body. Yes. Feet picking up. Yes. Face relaxed. Yes. Start scanning again. At 8k, I started singing to myself. One way or another… Over and over, until 9k. It’s a very funny thing… When I get to the last km, things refocus by themselves. I’m the Queen of the last km, no one passes me. I think it comes from my middle distance race. I know I can manage the pain over that sort of distance. I hit the cheering crowds. 400 to go. Around the tight turn, 200 to go. Come on!
I was mighty glad to get across the line and be done. I was boiling. Many friendly helping hands gave out water, medals and goodie bags, looked after us runners.
Finally, I looked at my watch. 43 min. I was gutted, but then again, had to put it into perspective. The lack of run training combined with the heat and the disrupted preparation on the day would do that. It was a good solid run, and in the end, I was 5th lady overall. Not too shabby. Time for a little recovery.
Royal Berkshire Green Park 10k: Yay or Nay?
So the sub-40 race will have to wait until another day. The course is totally able to deliver fast times though. It’s flat with just a few minor inclines when it crosses bridges. It is very scenic and, well, green as it winds its way along quiet country roads, with the start and finish along a long straight in the business park. The race is extremely well organised, with a mini-marathon and entertainment along the course. I have to admit, I did not register much of it because I was in my own little world, but if the ice cream from the vintage van was anything to go by, it was amazing!
The Royal Berkshire Green Park 10k is a friendly race for runners of all abilities, with detail orientated organisers and I thoroughly recommended it.