Sunday I took part in my last race as an under 40 runner. The Kingston Run Challenge. 16 miles.
As mentioned before I have done this race more than once. It takes place twice a year with different names and sponsors, but the route is basically the same and I love it. Most of it is on the river on the Hampton Court Palace side where I run most of my mornings, when there is enough light (so not now). Plus it is always very well organised. Humanrace events always deliver. This time it was as good as ever if not better as the market square in Kingston is finally open and looking great. The only issue I had was that I could not find the bag drop.
But let’s start from the beginning. I woke up pretty early to have breakfast and spend enough time getting my stomach ready (if you know what I mean). I left home 45 minutes before the start. That should have given me enough time to get there and warm up for 20 minutes. Instead not finding the bag drop I wandered in the wrong direction for too long and ended up only having 10 minutes to get ready. Not too much of a problem.
I placed myself just behind the 6 min/mile pacer and got ready to start. It was a beautiful sunny morning, cool and perfect for running. There were a lot of runners. Around 900 people, but mostly doing one 8 mile lap, two third I think. The atmosphere was very exciting.
I had decided to run it at a steady pace around 4:20 min/km as I thought that my last weeks of training were not really geared toward speed and I was not ready to run as fast as the last time (4:07 min/km). I was wrong.
I started fast as usual, excited by having other fast runners around. For the first time in a race I decided to keep an eye on my heart rate. I looked at it after 500 meters and it was 180 bpm. Obviously wrong as usual. It is always off at the beginning (either that or my heart is crazy). I ignored it and tried to get into the pace I had planned to stick to.
After less than 4 km a guy (number 2265) caught up with me and we started chatting. That’s the reason I never run with headphones and music. I like to interact with people, especially in races. He asked me what my target pace was, I told him 4:15 as I was not sure I was going to be as fast as last time (I felt a bit stupid saying it, as if saying: I am very cool, but today I will take it easy). Anyway we agreed to run together. Last time I did that I attached myself to the wrong runner in a 10 miles race and after 4 miles at 3:45 min/km I was dead and it ruined the whole race. So I was a bit cautious, but joined him. Every 2 or 3 km we swapped. It felt like when he was in front we were going faster while when I was in front we were slower. It also felt like I spent more time in front. I think it is just that when you are leading you suffer more I guess.
We finished the first 8 mile lap strong. We did not say much apart from “you OK?”, “cool”, ” nice one” etc. Going through the market square was a nice boost with all the people cheering. Plus it feels good to keep running and skipping the exit for the one lap finish line.
We ran a bit more and then I started losing my new friend. We where on the off road bit on the river. That part is my Bermuda Triangle. I have no idea why, but every time I run there, that particular bend, in any direction, I slow down. I cannot help it. I saw him adding meters between us and I was a bit desperate. I did not want to see him disappear in the distance and do more than one quarter of the race “alone”. Then something strange (but cool at the same time) happened. At km 18 in front of Hampton Court I accelerated to stick to him, overtook him to do my bit in front and kept running. Without realising it I accelerated and kept going until after 2 km I realised I was going at a pace under 4 min/km. I turned around and felt a bit guilty. I left him behind, exactly what I was hoping he would not do to me! But it felt too good for me to slow down. I was at around 20 km in the race and I felt like I just started. I was going at 3:50 and my heart was going at less than 160 bmp. I silently said thanks to the training plan I am following, I understood how wrong I was in thinking I was training too slow and just smiled and kept running. Feeling elated and indestructible. I overtook everyone I saw. If I spotted someone in the distance I aimed to reach them as fast as possible. It was probably the most enjoyable race I ever did. I admit the last km I was happy to see Kingston approaching. Then the crowd cheers, a final acceleration to look good and bam! crossed the line with the same average pace than last time. 4:07 min/km. Wonderful. My family was there which was super nice too. My daughter took the video below. We later found out I finished 10th. My best ever result. I could not have been happier. After a couple of minutes number 2265 arrived. I thanked him for helping me keep a good pace three quarter of the race. Without him I would have been a lot more conservative, so thank you again!
So overall I am extremely happy about the result. I am now even more confident in my training plan and I am looking forward to waking up at 5 am every day until the next race! And then do it again. Here is the Strava page if you are interested.
What did I eat before and during the race:
- Breakfast: tea with one toast and jam plus one scone with jam (very British)
- While walking to the race: one HIGH5 Energy Bar
- Just before the start: one HIGH5 Energy Gel
- At Km 10: 1 CLIF Shot Blok
- At Km 16: another HIGH5 Energy Gel
I had a bit of water at km 9 and 22, but not much. I also tried the PowerGel Shots that were distributed at Km 16, but found them too big and could not chew on one while running.
A big thanks to Human Race for organising the event and to the wonderful marshals. Thanks to my family for coming to cheer me up and to number 2265 for helping me a lot. See you next time!