Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Hyde Park 10K - May 2019

Run UK Hyde Park 10K 2019

Hyde Park 10km race runner

If there was ever a race I felt like I needed to get down my thoughts about, it'd be this one. Perhaps that's a bit of strange thing to say about a race I had "no expectations" for, but it's left me with a lot to think about.

I booked this race shortly after finishing Brighton Marathon on a day I was sat at home, resting due to a hip injury and feeling like the end of June was too long to wait for my next race. I think I needed to tell myself that my leg would recover fine and I'd be ready for a race sooner!

Yet a week out from the race and I was genuinely questioning whether I should be running it at all. I thought my hip was pretty much fixed, but I noticed some discomfort again during Reading parkrun and the following day. I decided to see how the week went and luckily I was feeling good to run. Not being in PB condition due to significantly reducing my training over the last few weeks, and generally still not feeling 100% recovered from the efforts of the marathon and the training that went into that, I decided this would be a "no pressure" race.

The thing is, it's very easy to say it's no pressure or to tell people I have no expectations, but actually managing my own mind is another thing altogether. I've raced at Hyde Park before (a similar but not identical route) and I know it's flat and potentially fast. I also knew that in previous events for this particular race, the winning ladies' times were slower than my PB. This meant that no matter how much I tried to tell myself I only wanted to take it steadily, there was still a little bit of my mind saying "just go for it, see what happens", although I knew full well that it would probably just result in me blowing up after a couple of miles and hating myself the rest of the way round. 


I arrived at Hyde Park, collected my number and went through a warm up before changing into my racing shoes (this is only the first time I've used them in a race, but I like them a lot!). I find some of these races in London parks a bit strange - there's far less of an atmosphere about them than with similar sized races I've done elsewhere. Maybe that's because they attracts fewer club runners, so you don't get quite the same experience of lots of big groups of people.

Then they called us up to the start line by expected finish time and I put myself with the sub-45 people because I still hadn't quite quietened that little voice in my head saying maybe I should run this as a race. I got a bit nervous though at that point because not very many people had come forward and I knew I would have to be pretty sensible about not going off too fast.

The race got started and I did actually manage to be sensible and not go haring off. A couple of faster ladies were ahead, and another couple passed me in  the first kilometre which actually helped me with this run because it meant that I'd be far less tempted to try and aim for as high an individual placing as I could. I began the run feeling comfortable, knowing I could push the pace a whole lot more but actually quite enjoying that. I'd also decided I wasn't going to check my watch at all - and fortunately caught myself just in time when I very nearly checked it as a reflex as it beeped after the first mile!

I did know my time at the halfway point as it's a 2-lap course so we passed the finish and timer at 5km and I'd done about 22:30. Now that I've actually given some thought to this run, that's something I can be pleased with as that's about the time I've been doing parkruns in the last few weeks and not usually feeling so comfortable! 

For the second half of the race, I had finally managed to get into the mindset of just enjoying it. I was certainly not running at "easy" pace, but whenever I felt it was getting past "comfortably hard" I tried to slow down a bit. As the ever-lovely Delroy (@bunny_pacer) commented on my IG post - "Why try and run your heart out when you physically know you won't run a PB?". Yes I could have made myself run faster, but ultimately I knew I'd only be disappointed because it would hurt and I still wouldn't be close to my PB. Instead I focused on how I felt running right at that moment and although I was tired, I still felt strong. That's a nice feeling to have towards the end of a 10K and definitely fitted in with my goal of enjoying it and finishing feeling like entering another one might not be so bad after all.

The finish line came into sight and in keeping with the way I'd run the rest of the race I didn't sprint to the end - what difference were a few seconds going to make? That said, I have to be 100% honest when I say that my initial reaction was disappointment because the time was showing as 46-something. Even though I'd spent the whole race consciously telling myself to slow down, take it easier, for some reason I was still a little bit gutted not to have done under 45 minutes. Brains, hey?! 

I spent a bit of time afterwards wondering "what if?". What if I'd attacked it a bit more - would I have run sub-45? Would I have maybe even got a podium position? In reality though, I don't think I could have done. Not this time. I've not run further than 5km in a few weeks (hadn't actually realised that until I scrolled back through Strava while writing this!), and quite simply I've just not got that speed endurance right now. I know it'll come back. Plus this race was never meant to be a fast one for me anyway! So ultimately all the what if's are pointless, and instead I can focus on the positives:

1. I ran 10km - the furthest I've run since 21st April
2. I enjoyed it, the run felt good and I've tipped the 10km love-hate balance back the right way!
3. I showed myself that I can enact some discipline when running in a race

My next 10km is just over 4 weeks' away and that's a good chunk of time to keep building up the running. I've no idea how I'll be approaching this one, but the good thing is that I'm looking forward to it.

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