Less than a week after braving insane amounts of mud and hurricane inspired weather at the Beaconsfield 5 Race, I decided that it was time to tackle another – a slightly different -challenge at this year’s Salomon Richmond 10k Race. This time I was joined by Hannah, fellow blogger friend at She Writes She Fights.
Taking it easy after the race on Easter Monday was proving to be difficult – I was still on the runners’ high all week and had to really be disciplined with allowing myself to recover adequately before Richmond. Recovery and taking things easy, even though quite pleasant, can be hard when you are still riding the waves of the momentum you gained earlier. Experience has taught me though that if you do not make time to recover properly, it means you do not have time to train. Recovery should be treated as part of a training cycle and given equal respect and importance, rather than looked at in separation. This makes a lot more sense to me now than in my days as a rookie runner, when the biggest temptation was to get carried away with training hard all the time.
Spring is finally here, my sunnies are out of the drawer!
Having completed a couple of races in Richmond already over the past 2 years, such as the Salomon Richmond Half in 2014 followed by the Richmond Running Festival Half in 2015, I was already familiar with the logistics of getting around (thankfully). The safest and surest places to park are the multi storey car park at Richmond Tube Station or opposite the Old Deer Park which is the Race HQ. One thing they both seem to have in common is that you should be prepared to get ripped off, but at the end of the day, this is Richmond, the home of the wealthiest Londoners, so this should not take anyone by surprise. On the other hand though, it is not all doom and gloom, because these races in Richmond offer one of the best post run goodie bags in my opinion, which makes me feel somewhat compensated for the parking malarkey.
Just as I arrived, the group warm up was about to start, so I applauded myself on the great timing. A guy dressed into a heavy and rather awkward bear suit got us pumped up and then whizzed us to the Start Line (surprisingly briskly) which was a couple of hundred metres away from the HQ. After a short round of introductions and interviews with randomly selected people from the crowd we were finally released onto the streets of Richmond at 8am on the dot – probably with most of the residents still sleeping cosily in their beds, completely oblivious to more than 400 runners flocking their streets. I actually prefer early race starts because this way I have no time to get bogged down with race nerves, pre-run fuelling is much easier, I can get the run done first thing and then just get on with the rest of the day without any interference. (Although I have to say that getting out of bed before 6am on a Sunday just to go running was a bit of a shock to the system).
About one third of the 10k route was on the streets and residential areas, about half by the riverside path and the final 2km on grass, looping us back into the race HQ. People who want a bit more scenery and venture further to the Ham House area, the half marathon is a better option – if they are willing to tackle a longer distance of course.
The route is conveniently flat all the way through, so a great PB potential provided that you break away from the crowds early on. However, on this occasion the final mile turned into what I would just describe as a ‘make or break’ point – we had to circle around the common a couple of times, in wet and tall grass which I did not only find to be a ‘mental asylum’ kind of experience but also an advanced physical challenge as I was running on heavy legs and tired lungs at that point, so a fast, dynamic finish was out of the question. I even had to resort to yelling at myself a couple of times to give my body a mental push as well!
I felt very energetic and strong during the whole run; I was completely in tune with my body and I was reading happy signals from my knee and ITB even though I was pushing the tempo relentlessly all along. I had not realised how hard my body was working until I wiped my forehead at one point and it was completely drenched in sweat! The cool yet sunny weather also heightened my spirits together with the cheering coming from the local spectators and supporters. Richmond and its vibrant running scene makes me want to come back and be part of this over and over again.
I burst into the finish line just after 47 minutes which is my seasonal best and my second ever best 10k time. I had completely emptied my tank by that time! I reckon I could have run faster on the final mile, had the grass and mud not been so restrictive. Putting that aside, I came fourth in my age/gender category out 144 competitors. My age graded result is over 63% which is quite decent. Overall, I only marginally missed out of being in the top 10% of all runners again (42nd out of 413). But this gives me a new challenge to work towards in future races. Provided of course that my body continues to co-operate!
Proud to have earned my finishers’medal!
We ARE finished! – with Hannah
The goodie bag and its healthy contents (my pussycats also approve!): technical T-shirt; Salomon head band; Bounce mint chocolate energy ball (yummilicous!); Clearspring Organic Snack Bag; Nu Va flavoured mineral water; Allure Aloe Vera Drink; Portlebay Wasabiand Sweet Ginger Popcorn; Wholefoods Market discount voucher.
We celebrated our achievements by grabbing coffee and cakes with Hannah’s Dad in Patisserie Valerie. I had absolutely no remorse consuming that luxuriously rich pecan and walnut tart!
I am feeling really encouraged again and slowly starting to regain my confidence in my body’s abilities and how I feel about my body in general is also starting to improve. I am extremely grateful that by God’s grace I am able to pursue what makes me happy and strong – and for this reason, I never take running for granted. This way it never feels like I ‘have to’ run, because I simply ‘get to’ run. And this feeling of gratitude is a force in me that keeps driving me forward and encourages me to keep up with the hard work I have been putting into correcting my mechanical imbalances (weak glutes, inward rolling knees, hip drop etc.) that had contributed to my previous injuries. I say upwards and onwards from here!