CR Winter Run 2018

The Winter Run, London Winter Run, Cancer Research Winter Run, this comes under so many different names but one thing it does and does well is fun!

This is the fourth running of the event and my third time. Back in 2016 it was one of the first events I did to get me back into running and my second 10k.

In truth I said I wasn’t going to do it again this year but when friends say they’re going to do it and there’s a team option, well it would be rude not to.

So myself, Amy, Charlotte, Megan and Donna signed up and I ended up with 5 race packs popping through my door.

I was a little disappointed during registration and with the customer service from Human Race that has left a bitter taste in the mouth. We were signing up as a team which reduces the price, but I also had a voucher code from Running Heroes which granted another 25% off. I called Human Race (the organisers) to double-check I could use the code when entering a team and I was reassured I could. Only then it didn’t work, so instead of paying £26 each we ended up paying £35. I phoned them up to say it hadn’t worked but they were massive d***s about it. It would’ve been cheaper for us not to enter as a team and each get the Running Heroes code, they then asked for each of us to get a code and they’d refund us £2 each as a gesture of good will – not much good will there.

But anyway, as it conspires Charlotte, Donna and Megs couldn’t make it on the day so it was down to Amy and I to hold the Chasing Light Collective fort.

Sunday morning came round and I had my now procedural Bagel with Nutella and Banana and a Trek bar on the train. We were due to have a bit of an Instagram meetup outside Waterstones but it was bloody freezing so we decamped in rather a posh coffee shop – I’m sure they appreciated me getting changed into my run kit in the middle of the tables, but I’m a runner and I have zero shame nowadays.

Crew met and Amy, Amy-Louise (now name besties) and I went to bag drop. They used the same bag drop approach as Royal Parks which is usually a mega mess up, but they actually managed it really well. I still think it would be easier if they just gave us the sticky number to put on the bag though. Oh yeah – but give us bigger bags please – I could’ve got more in a Tesco sandwich bag!!

We queued up for the start, not knowing any idea which pen we were in but we’d go with the flow. Joined by Derrick, Ash and Martin which had a few giggles on the way to the start, I’ve never seen Martin so excited, apart from maybe the time he got close to the BT Tower.

Plan and goals: Hadn’t really thought too much about this to be honest, I’d had a tough week with a really bad Achilles Thursday that just turned out to be calf tightness. I wasn’t worried about it hurting me as the pain had subsided completely but surely this means I should be fresh from being rested?

I felt like a PB was possible but wasn’t going to push it as this is a nice race to enjoy and last year my GPS came up half a mile long.

a) Have Fun (always A goal)

b) Take lots of photos

c) Beat 2017 time (1:28:39)

d) PB (1:26:21)

e) Run all the way – I’ve been close

f) Under 1:25 – been a goal for a long time but still a way off.

Over the start line, hi-5 penguin (don’t say that often but get used to it). And start Garmin slightly after starting mat as trying to IG story the start in one hand and watch on the other doesn’t work.

The road to the Strand is longer than I remember but I was looking forward to seeing the cheer crew and they didn’t let down. I took one look at my watch about half a kilometre in to make sure I wasn’t going off like an idiot and I wasn’t, dialled it back a bit to comfortable pace and plodded along.

Thanks @mjpicks for photo

First switchback is just off Aldwych and I gave an received shouts from Amy-Louise, Martin and Ash. I tucked in behind a couple that were running at a nice comfortable pace for me for a bit but taking the racing line I ended up overtaking them.

By the time I was at the bottom of Chancery Lane the leaders and a few more were already making their way back along the Strand to the finish, i was just concentrating on running all the way up Chancery Lane. On any other day you wouldn’t notice the incline, and that’s all it is, but it has always been a bit of a nemesis of mine. I was just happy to run to 5k and reassess the situation there and see how I tackled the second half.

I relaxed down the hill at Holborn saying hello to Beth and Ruth along the way, I always feel silly asking how things were going before we’ve hit 3km marker but what else do you say?

The next 2k were rather uneventful to be honest, I was just keeping comfortable pace and aiming for 5k. The water station at the Guildhall was ok, but I wasn’t desperate for water so stuck to the inside with no crowds and ploughed on.

5k came up and I checked in. Halfway in 41:40, rather speedy for me, my 5k PB is 41:03 so I dialled it back and walked for 30seconds and ran/hi-5’d my through the Penguin Party, not sure which penguin was shouting my name but I was sure it wasn’t Melissa as it was a bit too deep a tone.

My watch has suddenly jumped a quarter of a mile & so I couldn’t rely on my watch so much to give me accurate pace or splits so I was going to have to keep running to feel.

Not long after I got a slap on the bum from Caroline (cheeky) and then joined by Alex, top bloke who’s  a brilliant runner, I just don’t think he realises how good he is. We ran and chatted together for 2km and Alex went on after we passed St. Pauls, just 3km to go.

I may have had a cheeky look at the watch at 8km, had a little walk break when Fleur came flying past and I had circa 15mins to PB and a bit less to go under 1:25 – that switch that turns me into Beast mode was flicked.

Still running! 📷 by @mjpicks

First goal was to get to cheer squad at 9.5k, I knew seeing…hearing probably more appropriate would give me a huge lift before dropping down to Trafalgar Sq and seeing the finish on Whitehall.

I saw them and it did, I ‘felt’ like I was flying, no doubt looking more like someone who just stumbled out of a bar from the night before. I blew them all a kiss to thank them for their support and instantly the knees were coming higher. I got shouts from all sides turning the corner into Whitehall and I could see the finish line and had 2minutes to get there for sub-1:25.

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Bloody hell, it never gets closer……

I couldn’t keep the pace up and I started to grit my teeth (finish line pics are going to be brilliant) and hang on to the person in front, it got tough just to keep my legs ticking over and I tried not to look at my watch too much but sneaked a look in here and there.

Over the line and I let out a yes that would’ve been more suited to the dogs dressed up at 9km – hopefully I didn’t scare anyone.

It was done, it was a push but to get the time and it did mean a bit less weaving around to hi-5 a penguin or a yeti but in this case I’d say it was so worth it.

I staggered from the finish line picked up my medal, tried to spot Laura but couldn’t, got a Vita Coco (yuk) and then picked up a protein bar and Malt Loaf (awesome idea) and stared at a load of polar bears trying to spot one wearing a scarf. Eventually I spotted polar-bear Jenni with Caroline and went over for a chat and selfies and hugs of course.

I staggered back to the event village talking to Lisa on the way, collected my bag and chatted to Martina and Sara. Out of the corner of my eye I saw the greatest sign ever “PB Bell”, it HAD to be done.

I joined the cheering crew, shared hugs and cheers and cowbells and we brought in the tail end of the runners – always quite an emotional experience cheering in the last few.

videopress://uVt1xaZ5

The idea was to go to the pub in Leicester Sq but we decided Starbucks for a warm cuppa would be the best idea, as we were all getting pretty cold, so much that Amy’s lips had turned blue.

So, how did I do.

a) Have Fun (always A goal) – yeah definitely

b) Take lots of photos – yep, I thought I’d done a couple more videos but it turns out I didn’t press record!

c) Beat 2017 time (1:28:39) – yup

d) PB (1:26:21) – oh yeah…..

e) Run all the way, I’ve been close – not quite but it’s nearly there, will need to slow it down a bit more for this.

f) Under 1:25 – been a goal for a long time but still a way off. Booooom yeah!!!!

videopress://OCMdCA6p

Official time 1:24:27. I’d told everyone yesterday that I’d take a minute off my PB, I was wrong, it was almost two minutes!!! I knew I was feeling good but I had no idea that two minutes or 1:25 was possible.

Maybe not looking at my watch helped and running to feel, I did prep a bit better fuel wise and I did have a gel before the start (not something I’d usually do for a 10k). I like to think it was knowing that I had an awesome cheer squad waiting for me at 9.5k and I couldn’t wait to get back to see them – I’m sure that was what it was.

Saying that they had a mishap with the medals and they had a rush to have some made up, I’m really impressed with the quality – rotating snowflake or not, I’d be pretty happy to receive this!!

Would I do it again? – ask me next February… I’m saying no for now, just purely because it’s quite expensive and I can go do other races for less. But it is good, it is fun and given its Central London you get a great route and tons of people come out to support.

Would I recommend? – Would I?, I don’t know if I’d feel comfortable telling people to go do a race where they charge £40 after early-bird, it’s a bit excessive. If money wasn’t a concern I’d say yes go for it, it’s good fun, flat and where else do you get to see a Yeti on the Strand?