Summer of Speed: Regents Park 10k
This past year I’ve had some successful races by not looking at my watch too much and running ‘on feel’. It’s been a way of shaking off the self-imposed limitation I’ve had when thinking about times I might be able to run.
I had a chat with a coach last week who had more belief in me than I had in myself, and some of that rubbed off. But if she’d told me to run 44:39, I would have thought she’d got her sums wrong. Eight weeks ago I ran 45:54, and I’d never run a sub 45 10k before.
In the week before the race, I’d twanged something in a yoga class and only ran once (an easy 5k) that week as a result. So I guess I was well rested but it wasn’t the race week I’d planned.
On race morning, things were looking up though. I cycled the half hour down the road to the race with almost every traffic light I passed turning green. A good omen, right? The weather was perfect, cooler than the previous few days, just a light layer of rain on the course from an early shower.
The Regents Park 10k is three laps. I started fairly near the front and we were off. Too fast. I knew I should slow down, but the field pulled me along. As I passed the timing clock at the end of the first lap it said 14 min 30 something. It was either going to go amazingly well or I was about to blow up.
I deliberately didn’t look at my watch as we passed the 5k marker. It would definitely have made me panic had I seen my time.
The final lap was hard work but I knew I was going to run faster than when I ran the race eight weeks ago if I could just kept running. I also knew that sub-45 mins was still possible. I just needed to not slow down.
In the second half of each lap you run up a longish incline, then down it and back up the other side. It’s not really a hill, but when you’ve done it twice already and are in the last mile of a race, it doesn’t feel small. But at the top is the 1km to go sign, and then you can hurtle past the zoo towards the finish.
I don’t remember much of that last kilometre. I’d started passing people who were on their second lap but, unlike last time I ran this race, I didn’t have enough breath to say ‘well done’.
On the home straight I saw my partner and our son cheering, and just beyond them the finish clock which was still under 45 mins. I ran hard, everything hurt, I made some worrying noises and then I crossed the finish line.
I still can’t believe it. A lifetime best by more than 30 seconds, 18 months after having my son. Who knows what’s next.
If you want to get faster at 5k or 10k, check out my training guide.