So today was the Gunnersbury Park 10km, which I was going to treat both as a training run and as kind of a test. I had told A during the week that I would ultimately be happy to finish in under 70 minutes. After all, I really only started running three weeks ago, and the last time I ran ten kilometres was on October 20th last year. I chose to run this particular race because I used to run in Gunnersbury Park all the time, and I thought it would be good to be somewhere familiar. I’d forgotten how uneven and broken up the path is, but that’s another story.*
Neon Toddler and I woke early – before the alarm early – and proceeded to spend an age getting ready. Mainly because every three minutes I had to stop and draw a house, or a picture of NT and her doll in bed, or a picture of ‘Nanpa!’ (the collective name for my parents, made up of ‘Nanna’ and ‘Pa’). We finally got out the door and onto the train, easily enough through registration, and down to drop NT off with her dad. So after this, I wandered back to the start and lazed around, looking at Twitter, and checking out the other runners (or, more accurately, checking out their shoes). It was nice to be in the throng of racing again, and I really like small races.
The race was meant to start at 10:30, and about 35 past (just after I had dropped my bag in the tent), we were ushered from registration to the start line. The race was a 2.6km arch, then two laps of the park. I had assumed that it would be two laps of the figure-of-eight 5km (which is what I used to run and what I think they use for Parkrun there, although I’ve never been).
The field was pretty small and everyone seemed to self-select into a timing group, with the only instruction that sub-40s should go in the front. Needless to say, I stayed well away from that action! The start was nothing amazing, and as there was no official timing I made paid more attention to where the start line was spray-painted on the ground in order to start my Garmin. The first few kilometres was pretty stuffed – this is fairly normal for races of any size – and because the path was so narrow it took a while for the field to spread out (at my end anyway). Around the 1.5-2km mark I started to get a bit more space and settled into pace.
The course was actually fine – the first 2 and a bit kms were fine, but I kept thinking I was running too fast (this would continue through the entire race) and that I wouldn’t be able to keep this up. So on went the conversation in my head:
‘You’re running too fast – you’ll crash out in the last half!’
‘Yes, yes, but I’m comfortable and I don’t want to slow down just for the sake of slowing down!’
On and on. And on. I struggled the most between 2 and 4km, and this is really reflected in my splits where 1-2 I’ve run 6:44 and 2-3 is 6:31. These are my only two kilometres which were slower than 6:30.
By the time I settled in – really around 5.5km-ish and just got on with the job of finishing there’s not much to say. I felt I ran well, I pushed myself a bit. I realised that I probably don’t ever look as shitty as I feel (although I’m still unsure whether this is a good or bad thing…). From there my split times really come down – with my fastest between 7 and 8km, at 6:09, and 9 and 10 at 5:53 (my only sub-6 minute kilometre). I had messaged A after the race and mentioned that I felt the best in the last two kilometres, so that is pretty much reflected in the data.
I’m really happy with how strongly I finished this race – I passed a lot of people in the last two kilometres, and just kept picking up the pace. I didn’t think I’d be able to sprint finish, but it came from somewhere and I flew over the last 200 metres!
All in all, I’m so unbelievably happy with how this race went!
*Oh look, that’s it. Not really another story at all!