On Monday, which was a bank holiday in England, I ran the Vitality London 10,000, a big 10K race in Central London that I would describe as the best parts of the London Marathon…without having to do the marathon!
It was the one-year anniversary of my huge PR at the Ottawa Marathon, and after having to give up many races this year due to my IT-band injury, I was happy just to make it to the starting line!
The weather forecast predicted rain, but after an early morning shower before I left home, the rain held off and we even got some breaks of sunshine.
The race village was in Green Park, with the start on The Mall in front of Buckingham Palace. Everything was very organized – even the portapotty lines had volunteers telling runners which ones were open!
It was very crowded, with over 12,400 runners, and it took a while to make our way to the start. I managed to make my way to the front of the corral, but I was in the last corral so even though the race start was at 10am, we didn’t start running for over 20 minutes after that.
We slowly inched our way along The Mall away from Buckingham Palace, and finally we were at the starting line. It was pretty cool to stand on the line at the race start…even if it was the last corral!
Running along The Mall was really cool. It was the site of Paula Radcliffe’s 2003 marathon world record at the London Marathon, and it was part of the marathon course and cycling routes in the 2012 London Olympics.
Even though we started with no one in front of us, we quickly caught up to the runners from the earlier waves and the streets were very crowded for the entire race. It was frustrating, but I tried to enjoy the scenery and take it in! Nevertheless, I did spend a lot of the race running up on the sidewalks to try to pass people.
After The Mall, we ran under the Admiralty Arch and through Trafalgar Square to The Strand, which Charles Dickens called “a portion of the greatest thoroughfare in London.”
We also ran past Somerset House, The Royal Courts of Justice, Guildhall, and the Bank of England, which is the second oldest central bank in the world! (The oldest is Sveriges Bank in Sweden.) We also got a glimpse of the skyscraper nicknamed the Gherkin.
Around the halfway point, we ran by the Mansion House, the residence of the Mayor of London, and then right past St. Paul’s Cathedral.
I didn’t have many expectations for this race because I really had no idea what I was capable of, after 8 months of injury, and pain-free running only within the last month and a half or so. I thought I would probably be capable of a sub-60 10K, and maybe sub-55 if it was a good day. My 10K PR from 2015 is 52:07, but that pace is slightly slower than my half marathon PR pace, so it should probably be a lot faster. I still didn’t think I would be getting anywhere near that number on Monday.
I set my watch to race predictor finish time, a really cool feature of the Garmin 235 where you can set the watch to what distance you’re running, and the predicted finish time changes based on the pace you’re running.
It was showing sub-50 at first (I started too fast in that first mile on the open road!) but then was consistently showing sub-55, and close to 52-53 minutes for most of the race. Towards the end, I realized that if I pushed, I could get close to a PR.
The final stretch of the race took us past Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament, but I couldn’t really take in much at that point!
I really tried to kick it in the final 400m of the race, and sprinted the last 100m. My last mile was 8:04, and the last .2 was at a 6:34 pace!
My official finish time was 52:12, just 5 seconds shy of a PR. Of course I’ve wondered again and again where I could have made up those 5 seconds, but mostly I am just shocked and delighted that I was even able to run that fast (with no IT-band pain! Hallelujah!!!) when I couldn’t even run 6 miles a few months ago.
And it’s always nice to get another medal to add to my collection. I love that this one is square-shaped!
The finisher’s shirt was great too! Most races in Europe give out shirts only at the end of the race, unlike in the US where they give them out with your bib. I like them better at the end, because you really have to earn it!
I was also excited to be able to race in my London Marathon Brooks shoes, which I got on sale months ago (they’re from the 2016 marathon) but wasn’t able to train in until recently. I wanted to do at least one race in London wearing them!
After the race, I waited in a very long line for a free massage as part of the Vitality Wellness Festival. Had I known at the beginning that it would be such a long wait, I wouldn’t have even gotten in line, but by the time I realized how long it would be, I was invested. (I don’t even want to tell you, it was so long…okay, it was an hour and a half. We waited for an hour and a half for a free massage.)
The massage was actually great. Although I’m not sure I would go so far as to say it was worth the wait, since I was starving by then, it was a full 20 minutes, and the masseuse really dug into my poor calves and quads. My calves were so sore after the massage that it hurt to walk for about 10 minutes! I went home and put on my CEP compression sleeves and by the evening they felt a lot better. I should probably get another sports massage soon, or at least foam roll more. My muscles are so tight!
Even though I’m trying to take my return back to running and racing slowly and cautiously, I was excited by this surprise near-PR and now I’m itching to race another 10K to see how fast I can go. I usually find the 10K to be a challenging distance to pace myself at (which is probably why my 10K PR pace is slower than my half marathon PR pace) but I’m hoping to run a sub-50 10K sometime soon, once I’m sure my leg is healed and I can train more consistently. It just felt so great to race again, so I’m happy with the pain-free run.
After months of false starts, I think I can finally call this a comeback!
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