Last weekend I took part in the Kingston Breakfast Run sponsored by Whole Foods, part of the Human Race ‘Race Your Pace’ series. For the first time ever in my running history I did not finish a race that I had set out to do. Was I devastated? Not at all – I had a great time!
Getting to the start line for an 8am kick off meant an overnight stay with my parents in Surbiton and a 6am alarm call. It was freezing cold at 7.30am, despite the sun being out so I was glad that there wasn’t too long to hang around before the start. I was registered for the 16 mile option, 2 laps of the 8 mile course. I had arranged to meet Dash and run the first 8 miles together.
It’s been a while since Dash has raced as she’s had a year of illness and injury so I was really pleased when she asked whether we could run together. We were going to follow my marathon plan of running for 4 minutes and walking for one. The aim was to feel comfortable at no more than 11:30 min miles, although pace wasn’t really an issue – it was more about finding a comfortable rhythm.
We lined up in between the 11 and 12 min mile markers and were soon underway, the pace groups being set off one at a time. This made for a really orderly start – no pushing and shoving as faster runners made their way to the front and no risk of going off like an idiot by running far faster than your target pace. All good.
The course ran through Kingston Town Centre, over Kingston bridge and then down the side of the River Thames towards Hampton Court. It was a beautiful crisp morning and once my hands had defrosted I was able to admire the view. The river is a beautiful place to run, we were feeling relaxed at our steady pace and everything was lovely!
Dash and I have run together before and it’s always fun. We chat a bit, but not so much that it interferes with breathing and our easy running pace is well matched. Things were going well and I was feeling good. Then at around 3 miles the ache in my hip started. Not a sharp pain but a dull ache, and as with the week before it didn’t go away. After a mile or so more it was still there. It felt a combination of ITB, glute and quad. It wasn’t bad enough to affect my running, but with every step I kept wondering what damage I was doing.
I told Dash what was going on and she said maybe I should think about stopping after the first lap. Today wasn’t the big day, that’s on April 13th and I knew that what she was saying was sensible. I said I’d see how I felt at 6 miles and decide then.
At mile 5 we stopped for a quick loo break. We started to see the super fast runners on their second lap – I’m always in awe of how quickly and comfortably they seem to run. When we got going again my hip felt OK, but then a couple of minutes later, there it was again. I made the decision to stop at 8 miles. It just wasn’t worth the risk.
The last couple of miles were along the side of a road and we ran in single file. I felt comfortable with my pace which had actually increased a bit. Despite the ache in my hip I was feeling pretty good – it wasn’t stopping me from running at all and I felt confident that on race day I’d be able to keep going. I knew I’d made the right decision to stop at the shorter distance, I could run 16 miles today but at what cost? If I’m going to injure myself (which I very much hope I don’t) I might as well save that for race day!
I still felt good as I crossed the finish line. 8 miles felt easy – as it should at this stage of marathon training. That gives me confidence that although my mileage has been pretty low that my training has still been effective. The last time I ran the marathon I was starting to feel it by mile 8 and my pace was about the same as I ran on Sunday. I’m most definitely in better shape.
So despite DNFing the 16 mile race, I finished the 8 mile option and had a lovely morning running with a friend. Yes my hip played up but I’m confident that on the day I’ll be able to keep going at a reasonable pace. With just over two weeks to go till the big day I’m feeling pretty good about it all.
And now I’m off to the physio!