Here are some facts.
1) 10K is my nemesis distance. My 10K PB is 1:10:45. I have run faster 10Ks during 10 mile races and half marathons, for some reason I have never been able to match those performances during a 10K race itself
2) I hate running in Victoria Park. I’ve run here many a time during training for various races and I always find it tough. I’ve no idea why. I’ve raced here once before at the Pride 10K and had a pretty terrible time. To be fair the race was great, I was hungover and terrible but it did nothing for my dislike of running in Victoria Park
3) After my experience of running the British 10K in 2012 I had vowed never to take part in an event sponsored by Nike again
So you might be surprised to hear that last night I took part in Nike’s ‘We Own The Night’ Women’s 10K in Victoria Park.
I signed up for the race a while ago, in the middle of my marathon training and before all the issues with my hip had started. Despite hearing a mixture of reports from the event last year, where it seems that were quite a few organisational issues, loads of people that I know had signed up to take part this year. It sounded like it was going to fun, if nothing else. I thought that running in the park with thousands of other women could be a way to overcome my dislike of both the park and the distance.
Then the marathon happened, I haven’t run since then and my hip has been really quite sore ever since. I had pretty much resigned myself to going along and supporting everyone else, figuring that if I couldn’t ‘own’ the night myself then I’d go along and cheer loudly for everyone else that could.
Last weekend I had some kind of bug that left me feeling quite tired and lethargic at the start of this week. I decided to listen to my body and gave myself the entire week off as rest. It did me, and my hip a world of good. After some acupuncture and soft tissue treatment on Thursday, my hip was feeling better than it had done in weeks. After discussing the race with Glenn, my osteopath, I decided that I’d give it a go. Walk and jog it and just take it easy. If anything hurt then I’d stop – it was just a local 10K after all.
So on Saturday afternoon I found myself getting ready for a race that I really wasn’t prepared for at all. I committed all sorts of offences against the cardinal rules of running, wearing new trainers, socks, sports bra and leggings for the first time on race day. I had decided it didn’t really matter as I was just going along to have fun. As I made my way to Victoria Park in the early evening I had absolutely no expectations for the race at all, except that I was more than likely going to get wet.
I met up with my friend Lisa before making our way to a soggy Victoria Park and as we arrived in the event area we were both surprised by how cold it was. Cold and windy and wet. Not the best of combinations for a race taking place after dark.
Given what I’d heard about the organisation from the year before I was pleasantly surprised – plenty of toilets, an easy bag drop and clear instructions being given from the stage. I bumped into a couple of people that I know and we chatted away. Despite the weather it felt more like a party than the start of a race.
Soon we were warming up and being taken through a series of moves by trainers from Equinox. I usually hate mass warm ups, they remind me of the type of aerobics classes that I hate with a passion, but this one was fun, funky and actually pretty effective.
Then we were off to our start funnels. There were 6 different pace zones to choose from and we’d each been given a coloured wrist band that matched our zone. I had put myself in the sub 60 min pace zone. No, I hadn’t lost my mind, I knew that there was no way I was going to achieve that time but I’ve found that for shorter races I am much better off when I start off with people that are running faster than me, it gets me going at a good pace and keeps me running stronger for longer.
So there I was in the green zone waiting to start a race that a few days before I didn’t think I’d be running. My plan was simple – relax and run to feel. Run for as long as was comfortable and if there was any pain in my hip to stop and walk straight away. Then I’d try running again and if the hip pain came back then I’d bail out.
I’d heard some horror stories about the start of this race last year – narrow paths and people of all different abilities starting at the same time making for a mad scramble. Nike had clearly listened to feedback and looked to improve on that, the start was as well organised as the London Marathon. That’s about as organised as a race starts get.
At just after 8pm we were off on the first of our two laps of Victoria Park. As it turns out if you line the route around the park with supporters, light installations and music and it changes into something pretty cool.
The first 3km were really good. My breathing was under control and my legs felt good. There were markers at each kilometre and they seemed to be passing quickly. I felt strong. There was a decent amount of support along the route which surprised me given the weather. It was great to be running alongside so many women, the atmosphere was friendly and encouraging.
4km passed and I knew I was nearly at halfway. I’d only stopped for one brief walking break and couldn’t quite believe how good I was feeling. My pace felt consistent and there wasn’t even a hint of pain from my hip. At the 5km mark I looked at my Garmin and realised that at the pace I was running I was on for a personal best. That blew my mind a bit – totally unexpected – but I’d still got the next 5km to run.
I started to get a bit of a niggle on the underside of my left foot and my walk breaks started to increase to help shake off the pain. At this point I really wished that I’d stuck with my tried and trusted Kinvaras rather than making this the first outing for my new Asics. Oh well, nothing I could do about it now – I just needed to dig in and get through the remaining part of the race.
My pace had slowed a bit with the extra walking but while I was running I was still feeling pretty good. Approaching 8km and I realised that as long as I kept the same pace then a PB was definitely there for the taking. By this time it was completely dark and the lights in the park looked fantastic. If only Victoria Park could be like this every time I run here!
I crossed the finish line in 1:09:15 – a new personal best by 90 seconds. If I had run in my trusty Kinvaras then I’m pretty sure I could have taken another minute off that time too – the extra walking to shake off the foot pain caused by my new trainers had definitely cost me some time. Either way I was delighted. I had never expected that a PB was a possibility for this race, I had honestly thought that I might have to drop out if my hip pain had come back. So to score a PB, having enjoyed the race so much was just brilliant.
Running is a funny old thing.
I’ve got to take my hat off to the organisers of this race, everything ran smoothly from my perspective. I collected my bag quickly and claimed my free glass of fizz before meeting up with Lisa who had also run a really strong race (considerably quicker than me!). There was a party going on in the park but Lisa and I quickly concluded that a quick pint in a warm pub was preferable to standing around in the cold.
I will definitely return to this race next year. Well organised, lovely route (can’t believe I’m saying that, I hate running in Victoria Park….!) a great goody bag and a lot of fun.
And to top it off each finisher got this fantastic necklace designed by Alex Monroe and Liberty. I love it and I love that it’s something I can wear every day. Medals are great but I’ve got quite a few of those now and this is something really different.
Well done Nike – I think in the end you really did own the night.