This was my first race of 2016 and i got a huge 13minute PB after the British 10k the previous July. I liked the winter run it was lots of fun, despite the rain and the slightly unorganised so called waves and missing out on the polar bear hugs at the end. img_9657-1

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looking frumpy in 2016 with a big dog

I contemplated doing it this year but looking at the price i couldn’t really justify it for a race i’d already done and wasn’t desperate to do again. However i got a message from Melissa (@Moosenshoes) asking if I’d be interested in doing the race as a team with the same people we did Run in the Dark with(Ciara, Natalja, Melissa, Will and me). Sounds good, plus i had a 25% discount code from Running Heroes which unbelievably we could use for the team entry, so we only ended up paying about £25 each.

 

Will clearly hadn’t has his morning coffee and couldn’t figure out the group picture pose!

 

9am on a really chilly Sunday morning, slightly regretting going for the Blue kit in favour of the yellow Adidas kit with long base layer tights – it was properly cold, the kind of cold a northerner would’ve put his flat cap and fleece on.

 

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kit selection

 

I had considered going for hat and gloves but braved it thinking I’d warm up once I got running.

Miraculously, we all found each other and after scrambling to put my number on – I might as well have had penguin flippers. We headed to the seamless bag drop before a quick loo stop, more than enough loos and before we knew it we were queuing up for the start hoping that the crowd would share some body heat.

Knowing that the waves aren’t as rigid as most races, it was lovely to just rock up when you were ready and head off – there was a good mix of runners in each wave and it seemed to work really well. Before long the MC started the countdown, we shared hi-5’s between us all and we were heading for a snowy blastoff!!

With about 13,000 runners doing this years run I was expecting a bit of mayhem from the start but to be honest it wasn’t too bad. I had to dodge around a few people along the Strand, it was manageable with a few people dipping onto the pavement to get some space.

Once we turned off Aldwych and heading up Kingsway everyone had found their spot and you got some good room, enough room in fact that Hannah even spotted me after the U-turn and gave me a shout.

Once I saw 2k come up, my legs had remembered what running is and everything fell into place, even running up Chancery Lane – probably the nearest thing to a hill on the whole route, though probably more of a minor incline than anything.

This is almost my PB course (actually London 10,000 but pretty much the same) and is a pretty flat and fast so once I navigated the scary wolves/dogs pumping out “who let the dogs out” I  got my head down and into my running but mostly, I actually tried to enjoy myself a bit. I am normally so tied up with getting a PB, not coming last, bettering myself that I decided that I would try my best to enjoy the experience. So I sang along to the awesome choir singing Don’t Stop Me Now – what a classic, a random Florence and the Machine song that I still don’t know the words to but I bloody sang along to it anyway and rocking along to the cracking steel band at the corner of St.Pauls tube station. It was a real party atmosphere.

The support was awesome out on the course too, the marshals were jumping around shouting out names on the bibs, pats on the back from other runners and a splattering of bewildered tourists around the city.

The drinks station at the Guildhall was a bit messy and could’ve done with being on both sides and I had to cross traffic of runners to get a drink – I managed it and didn’t tread on anyone’s toes

 
Round the Bank of England and I was keeping an eye out for Jen at the Penguin party (not real penguins as someone thought), alas I missed her as those penguins are really hard to tell one from another.

Next up one of my favourite parts – the switchback at St.Pauls – kind of feels like the halfway point and you’re heading back to the finish. I realised even though I was in the second wave I was starting to pick a few people off and was going nip and tuck with a girl in a “Keep me warm Jacket” or whatever it said on the back of it. Heading out of the city tons were still streaming back down High Holborn in the opposite direction – I definitely wasn’t going to be last unless I bum-shuffled the remaining 6k.

Down Fetter Lane I decided to have a walk break and heard someone shout “Hey Carl, looking good”, I just about had enough time to see who it was as Adam (currently starring in Les Miserable in the West End) came flying past looking really strong. Why do people only see me when I’m walking? – according to Garmin I ran (alright, shuffled) about 80-85% of the race. *insert rolling eyes emoji here*

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I was trying to work out how long it would take me to do 2km and whether the PB was on – 2k in 16mins would be achievable if I could run well for the rest of the course. I started to trick myself – run to the traffic lights, get to the traffic lights then say run to the edge of the church, once there run to the dogs, then don’t stop in front of the scary dogs etc etc until I got onto the Strand again and started to convince myself the finish was just around the corner and you can run to the finish!

I had hardly looked at my watch the whole way around – in fact for 80% of the race (apart from first 2k to make sure I didn’t go off to quick) I had it on the watch setting so I couldn’t get a sneaky look. I made sure I didn’t look again until I crossed the line.

I started to pick up the pace as I went past Charing Cross and the crowds started to build and the support was incredible – I love the idea of having your name on the bib as it gives you that extra push when someone shouts your name! Plus I think the lack of rain had brought quite a few people out plus a few random tourists and it made it into quite a finish.

One final turn into Whitehall and you can see the finish, but it never gets any closer, i just didn’t seem to be moving, but I was concentrating on not walking at all until I crossed the line. One thing I’d noticed that I’d never noticed before was the crowds of other runners coming into the finish, there was barely any room to move – i even got my arse felt by a passing female runner – on purpose or not i’ll never know but i certainly gave me a push to the finish.
I finally crossed the line and stopped the Garmin to see 1.28 and i didn’t need to see the rest, I knew I hadn’t PB’d and I was a bit disheartened by that as I felt as though I’d really run well.

However once I’d collected my medal then walked pretty much to the other end of Whitehall to find a bottle of water, I got my two Polar Bear hugs (to make up for missing last years hugs) I did resolute myself to thinking that: it was cold, it was crowded and my Garmin said it was 6.44 miles even though I took the racing line where possible – and most of all – I had fun!!!

Post race it was back to pick up my bag (seamless organisation again), changed and off to find Melissa for a drink in a crypt – I did look a little walking dead I guess!

All in all a great day & I look back in it now with quite a bit of fondness, I’m happy with my run, fun day with awesome friends & another bit of bling to add to the rack! The route was almost certainly long having checked last years route, I think for how much people were paying they could probably put a goody bag together – even a simple one – I didn’t even get any of the promised chocolate as advertised on twitter.

I’m already thinking of doing it again next year!

Would I do it again? – yeah if I could get in earlybird, team entry or discounted entry again

Should you do it – it’s a bit of fun, why not – although look out for team entry & offers

 

Next Race: Vitality Brighton Half Marathon