London 10 Mile

Basically an instant PB.

I’ve never done a 10miler before, despite having one booked in with RunThrough at the Velo Park last year but being unable to do it due to injury.

Let’s get this out of the way first shall we, yes, it was expensive-ish – £39 (£41.34 all in).

My reason to run it:

– It’s practically on my doorstep

– It’s in beautiful Richmond Park

– It’s closed roads

– Inaugural event

– Instant PB / New Distance

– Good Challenge
So why not? It’s a distance I haven’t done before and it’s something a bit different and will keep me motivated on my road to Berlin.

I love the fact that it’s on the closed roads around Richmond Park – I venture over that way now and again both on foot (running) and on the bike. On foot it’s great, you’ve got the Tamsin Trail that goes all the way around the Park and it’s generally quiet and just really nice experience. IT’s on closed roads too which is an opportunity not to be missed – normally its either full of cyclists thinking they’re taking part in the Tour de France or far too many cars for a beautiful park like this.

Also it turns out there will be a pretty good turnout from UKRunChat too.

The route – no laps fortunately – I didn’t realise that the park was big enough to do one lap and a bit and make it into 10 miles. I know from cycling the route, you’re going to encounter hills – not many, but you’re going to hit one or two long slogs uphill and one short, sharp and steep one near the end.

I think I’m happy that we’re going anti-clockwise, of course it all equals out, but I’d rather have the short, steep hill on Broomfield Road rather than going from Kingston Gate to Richmond Gate which would be long and arduous.


Race Day

Not too early of a start fortunately, 10.30 start works for me well, especially being so close.

Nutrition wise, porridge & fruit, I’d made up an electrolyte drink for pre-race and another to keep with me in my new belt. I’ve got my SiS Caffeine shots and a couple of gels just in case.

Journey was fairly easy including a bit of a walk to the start area but not too bad compare to those coming in from the tube stations. I got to the event area and spotted Steph and Allie straight away, or did they spot me. We said our hello’s I got my kit on and was using my new belt for the first time after testing it at Parkrun – I was a bit concerned as my Fitletic belt keeps on slipping and ends up hugging my backside – not the most great looking or comfortable fit. It was then off to join the loo queues – not too bad for gents that wanted a pee as there were a couple of cubicle things, however for the ladies and gents needed other services there was a fair queue. I left Steph as i needed to put my bag in the bag drop which seemed to be really overcomplicated.

So, there is a tear-off strip on your number to attach to your bag like most other races, so what the purpose of the wristband with another completely different number on and to write that number on the tear-off strip that was  was I have no idea. I mean, just take the bag, give it back to the person with the bib number that’s on the tear-off strip – what’s so hard about that? This generated a bit of a queue but nothing too serious, although completely avoidable.

Right off to the start pens – I saw Becca who squished every bit of stuffing out of me giving me hugs and sent me on my way with words of encouragement. Once in the start pen there was the question of the day “what time did you put down?”. I eventually found my yellow pen (2nd wave – yeah i know) and met up with Louise from Parkrun who asked the question straight off before being met by Lindsay & friend who went to ask the exact same question. We were not really 2nd wave runners, 3rd wave for me would be doubtable. For me I just took it that it was less opportunity to come last and I’d just have to make sure I ran at my own pace for the first mile or so and not get pulled along – hmmm.

Let’s talk targets!

A) Finish & under 2:30:00 – HM Pace (happy Carl)

B) 2:25:00 (Very happy Carl)

C) 2:20:00 – 10k Pace (hahaha don’t be ridiculous)

Thing to note about the above – these are my 10-mile target times, not my Hot and Hilly 10mile times – just worth noting!

The start for some reason was 15mins late, no explanation that I could hear and the just was just saying that he was waiting for clearance to let us go – clearing the deer off the course? Actually we were told that should there be any deer on the course we should stop and let them by – not sure if he was being serious or not.

Eventually the first wave got underway and we followed a couple of minutes later. Hannah came past and we wished each other luck before she sprinted off into the distance. There was really good support for the first 400 yards until you turned onto the road. Only being a quick wave and having tons of support not wanting to be off the back of the wave, meant I went for it a bit hard, ok, really hard. I spotted 12 min/mile on my watch which is ridiculously quick (my Westminster Mile time was 12:33). I was already at the back on my own and felt conscious that I didn’t want to walk with all the spectators shouting for me. Next up I saw the awesome Becca who is supporter extraordinaire with Em and Lucy and I sure as hell wasn’t going to walk past those guys.

The start goes up one heck of a hill straight away, so a good opportunity to walk and bring my pace down a little. Only then the following wave caught me up and I trotted along not to get in too much of the way.

Getting to the Pen Ponds cafe I knew where I was and decided not to miss the opportunity of running the downhill to Robin Hood Gate. Trotting away I was joined by Lizzie for a bit and we had a natter before she cracked on.

All the roads seem so much longer running rather than cycling and the road out to Roehampton Gate seemed to take forever as I said to myself I’d run to the roundabout there. I was still on pace (14:00min/mile -30s under planned pace) but said I’d just keep going as I’d lose time up the hills. I also became very aware of the sun along here, I’d splashed some suncream on, but forgot to put any on my neck and I could feel it already.

Before long Steph and Nic came passed following the 2hr pacers and Rebecca, Lucy and Jo caught my up and we ran along together for a while having a chat.

I could sense the hill coming, but going past the Event Village on Sawyers Hill (you’ll see why it’s called that shortly) I’d ran up the first smaller hill and Mike had stopped on his training run to say hi. We ran together for 10 or so minutes and it was fab to have some company for a while, to run at my pace and have a chat to take my mind off things. Conveniently Mike decided to scarper just before the big hill – where they’d put the 3mile marker with underneath “it’s about to get hilly” – no shit sherlock!

I looked up and may have said some naughty words as I saw runners going up, up and up, twisting and turning there way up what looked from the bottom like a never-ending hill. I wasn’t going to even attempt to run it, it would just sap all energy for the remaining 10k. I had a little trot in the flatter section to loosen the legs a bit, but there was no way I was going to push it too much at this early stage. My plan was to get to the top with the watch at no worse than 14:30 min/mile.

The hill was done and i couldn’t resist but turn around and look down at the tiny fluorescent ant-like people at the bottom and take in the awesome view of the City of London beyond – I wished I could’ve stopped to take it all in but I had a race to do!

Next goal, get to Richmond Gate, a fairly undulating section but definitely runnable and I knew from the turn all the way to Ham Gate it was a steady downhill. I ignored the first aid station as it was a bit chaotic and I had water and electrolytes in my belt but i decided to stop at the second for a sip of water and a couple of shotbloks that were on offer.

The next mile or so was good, I kept a nice even pace and got into a nice rhythm – as much as you can on such an undulating course. Around 6.5 mile I caught up with a lady power walking and we had a chat about what we’d been up to – she did a 106km ultra around the Isle of Wight but has struggled with actual running due to injuries – despite she was still aiming for 2:15!!! As she moved on I tried to hang on to her coattails for a bit until the big, steep hill on Broomfield Rd.

Run to the corner, grab a drink and get this over with. I did something I don’t usually do and that’s tip water over my head – I was really hot by now. Despite being in a Park the tree cover isn’t that great and you really don’t get a great deal of shade, particularly in the summer when the sun is directly above you.

It’s big, ugly, and draining (the hill, not me). Just near the top one of the signs intrigued me “look out for the tree surgeons” eh? Are they cutting the trees while we’re running? I could hear some support up in front but could only see a parked Land Rover, until I looked up. Two blokes suspended from the trees were shouting and giving support and telling us we were nearly at the top of the hill, I let out a ‘oh’ to the amusement of two girls running aside of me. I wonder if anyone has got them down yet, they would’ve been up there for quite some time by that stage!

Safe to say the downhill on the other side was glorious, I still struggle to let my legs really go, I always feel like i’m going to end up flat on my face if i do. But I let go a little and really enjoyed the long twisting down bank before meeting Mike again at the bottom. I say Mike, I should say the walking/running aid station. He told me i was almost 40mins in front of the last runner when I got to Sawyers Hill so I definitely wasn’t last and was looking really strong (he’s a terrible liar). He’d been patching people up along the way with KTape and bits and bobs he was carrying in prep for his ultra (can’t remember whether it was King or Stones). Again running with Mike was brilliant and kept me running far longer than I probably would have on my own. Mike departed and I was a little thankful I could have a rest down the hill to Robin Hood gate until guess who pops up again – Mike (gets everywhere that lad), who informs me from here it is a no walk zone – good try mate. I figured as soon as I was on the road up to Pen Ponds cafe I was probably out of shot and could sneak in a cheeky walk.

8 to 9 miles was a long slog uphill again and 9miles just didnt want to come. Eventually it did and we were told it was all downhill from here – I asked if i could just roll home and I was told I could – always have options! It was ‘mostly’ downhill but certainly not all.

I could see the event village with half a mile to go and gave the girl next to me some encouragement as we’d gone tail to tail from about 7mile – only she then ran off and left me in her dust!! I mean, how rude!!

I trotted along and I could see Becca & co from miles off with their signs and cowbells. Despite not supposed to be running Becca came and joined me and ran to the corner before turning into the finish straight and ‘made me’ yes ‘made me’ run all the way in, which i didn’t think would be too bad – until i turned the corner.

Flipping heck that finish was a long way away. It looked soooo far away I couldn’t believe it, but i knew Becca was probably still watching so I couldn’t walk even if i wanted to. Eventually I got close and well, didn’t quite get a sprint finish in, but i lifted the knees up a bit and trotted over the line happy with what I’d done.

Finish Time: 2:26:26 (appeals to my OCD as well)

Pace: 14:36 min/mile

Elevation Gain: 575ft

I am happy, what can I say, a minute quicker per mile than the London 10,000 last week on perfectly flat London streets compared to Hilly Richmond Park – doesn’t make sense to me but what the heck I’ll take it.

I found it hard to get into a proper rhythm – i like to do run/walk strategy, 5:2, 10:3 for example but it was so tough with the undulations, so it was a case of using the Beachy Head method – run the flats and downs, walk the ups! And that worked really well, I was surprised how much pace I could keep on the bigger hills.

The post race event area was really nice and chilled, tons of people we camped out on the floor as i did once I’d collected my bag (always a quick process when you’re at the tail end) and collapsed on the floor with Steph, Hannah and Allie before joined by Baz, Kaya, Nic, James, Louise, Liz and Amo – what a team!! By the sounds of it, we all enjoyed it no matter what time we did – I think the challenge brings out some of the enjoyment when you can say you completed it.

The support out there was fantastic, for a race around a Park that was closed to Traffic I didn’t expect there to be many around but the support was brilliant, the marshals did a superb job and the aid stations were fully stocked and had more than enough water for a hot day.

Would I do it again: Yeah, it was quite possibly the toughest race I’ve done in terms of elevation and heat combined (only Tough 10 beats it on elevation), but I saw it as a challenge in itself to get up the hills and I ended up really enjoying it because it was something different and it was a challenge where I wasn’t chasing PB’s or Run all the way – just get round as quick as I can and walk away at the end.

Would I recommend it?: Hell yeah I would. Especially if you’re training for something, it doesn’t matter what that something is because even though I know Berlin will be pancake flat, this will add so much strength to my running ability and it helps when i get to Berlin. If you’re not training for something in particular, come do it anyway, it’s great fun and an achievement to finish looking at the DNF’s on the results.

Inadvertently, today was brilliant prep for my next race at Shrewsbury. I’ve been a bit nervous hearing about how hilly it is, but after 10 hilly miles today, it can’t be ‘that’ bad can it right?, right, guys?, anyone….?

After Wednesday’s Chase the Sun and Today’s London 10 Mile, I think i can really put London 10,000 behind me – I’ve reminded myself I am runner by running the whole of the Chase the Sun 5k on trails and today I am strong enough for a challenge and my goodness that was a challenge today.

Well done to everyone today – superb effort all of you!


Next Race: Shrewsbury Half Marathon.