Regent’s Park Winter Series 10K – New PB!

It’s Sunday morning,and I am up at 7am and lacing up the trainers for my second 10K race in five days. Well, it’s one way to kick start 2014, race myself silly until we head off to Thailand and then hopefully have enough of a habit going that I’ll be taking on a few miles on those beaches. And I fear it will have to 7am to beat the heat (oh poor me! up early to run on the beaches.. I hate me)

The weather was perfect. Cold but beautiful and clear, with a rose coloured sunrise seeing off the frost. There was plenty of that and I very nearly skidded off the bridge and into the pond just walking over to the Hub for the start of the race. 
Regent’s Park getting its Pretty On
Having had my number and race chip through by post (all seamlessly organised) all I had to do was meet Natalie (the lovely lady I had the pleasure of running with last Movember 10K) and hit the bag drop off. 
Natalie and I get ready to race! Regent’s Park let’s be havin’ ya!
By 9:10am we were all at the start line, including Felix and Christopher (resident RDC elites) and ready to go. The course is flat and takes in most of Regent’s Park three times over and I was slightly dreading the laps. I am much more a fan of varied scenery! But I had a new playlist to test out, so seeing the same statue a few times over wouldn’t be the end of the world. 
Each lap was just over 3km, and with the ice having melted thanks to the climbing sun (and the super speedy runners, thanks Chris and Felix!) I managed to keep my pace even and steady. I even avoided heading out too quickly – which helped hugely. Not more fizzling out at 5km, and although I didn’t manage negative splits, I did managed a new PB! Not quite under the 60min mark, but 01:01:01 has a certain ring to it. Fitting for the beginning of the year. So that will do for now. More track training and I’ll be there no doubt.
It was brilliant to have fellow RDC runners in the mix who cheered me across the finish line, thanks guys – helped me find that sprint finish after all. Felix and Chris both smashed the course in under 40 minutes, Felix bagging a new PB, so celebrations all round. 
Run Dem Crew Represent! 
So that leaves me two more weekends until I jet off to warmer climes for a desperately needed dose of Vitamin D. Any other good 10Ks I should be signing up for? What races have you got planned in the Spring?

Happy New Year! Serpentine 10K Race

That was 2013. Phew! Done and done. Can’t say I’m sad to see it go, a very mixed bag. A few wonderful memories; my niece, Ayla Rose, arrived on Valentine’s day (miracle baby), and we celebrated our first year of wedded bliss (twice -once in Jo’burg and again in London).  
Also there was Breaking Bad and Orange is the New Black. I had the pleasure of reading Life After Life  by the inimitable Kate Atkinson which is, by far and away, my top read of 2013, and in my Top 5 Books ever (it’s that good, read it now)
In my lycra life, I finally found the nerve to join Run Dem Crew, which has had a hugely positive effect on my running, and introduced me to a number of pretty awesome people too. 
Which is how I found myself with a place in the Serpentine New Year’s Day 10K race. This sounded like a great idea seeing I was playing hermit on NYE, so would be bright-eyed and bushy-tailed for a race on New Year’s Day. I had not taken into account the following
  • I would be floored by the dreaded lurgy for a whole two weeks over Christmas that left me feeling bleak even after the worst had passed
  • The additional mince pies, quality street and cheese (mmm cheese) had resulted in an additional 5 pounds to haul around. Worth every ounce, I am not complaining, just stating a fact. 
  • The weather would be totally, and completely, miserable. Wind, rain, side wind, icy rain, all of the wind and all of the rain. All the time
But the thought of brand new race bling, on the first day of a brand new year was very tempting, and by the time I got my trainers on at the very reasonable hour of 10am, I thought I may as well head up to Hyde Park and give it a go. 
For such a dreary day there was a very decent turn out (they had around 800 places, race results have the finishers at 580), the registration was swift and pain free, and the race started just about on time (11:04 – not bad going given the conditions) 
The first 2kms where congested given the mud and puddles, (or small lakes) that appeared along the route. My shoes and socks were soaked through within about 5 minutes of running. And there were nice muddy trails for added squish. But after around 3km the faster runners had pulled out in front and the course started to clear. 
As per usual I started far too quickly. I need to stop doing this, I hit 4km and wanted to go and have a little lie down. Classic me. I know if I start out a little slower I’d reserve my energy and keep a more steady even pace, but somehow I forget this when the gun goes! So 4km to 5km was horrid, and became more so as we turned left down The Broadwalk, a lovely decline sponsored by biting icy rain in the face and a headwind from hell. Nasty. And we get to do this twice as it the first of a loop around Kensington Gardens (the square bit on the map below) . Great. 
The Course, with loop de looping included (the square bit)

Thankfully after 6km, having given myself a proper talking too, the race picked up. I gritted my teeth through the windy bits, and although I couldn’t quite find the additional oomph that I needed to get my pace back where I wanted it, I didn’t collapse under a bench and wait for everyone to go home either.

In fact, by the time I got to 9km I thought I might just beat my last PB. Sod the wind, I thought I’d give it a bash. Heading under the bridge and coming out by the Serpentine, my energy stores fizzled (thanks lurgy) and although I managed a stronger finish, I missed setting a new PB by 15 seconds. GAH

BLING! First one of 2014. Oh and my lovely manicure

All in all though I am pretty pleased with my effort bearing in mind my lack of any recent, viable training and the devil weather. Medals collected, times received (so quick! very impressed), I grabbed a coffee with a new running pal that I had met while registering (we both needed cake) and laughed about how mad we where to have gotten out of bed that morning. Running nutters. Got to love them.

That just left me to get my drowned-rat-looking self home. Even the dry clothes I brought along got pretty soaked on the way back to my flat. And thanks to wind, rain, sweat etc, my hair looked like this. Two de-tangling brushes, leave in conditioner and a few tears later, I managed to get it looking mildly human and less wildling. I almost had to get the scissors out.

Knotting Hell 

Vanity aside, it was a brilliant way to welcome in 2014. I ran a race, got a medal, made some friends, drank some coffee, had some cake, jumped in puddles. Got really muddy. Not bad for a Wednesday.

All this bodes well for my next race on Sunday (Regent’s Park 10K) in which I need to make peace with my hatred for lap courses. This one loops Regent’s Park THREE TIMES. So boring. But apparently a great course to PB *fingers crossed*

Happy New Year everyone, hope there’s more where that came from!

My shoes, in the recovery position

Survival of the Fittest: London Town

Four months ago, my crazy, mad, badass friend Christina, suggested a group of us equally badass, crazy girls form a team and get ourselves registered for Survival of the Fittest, in London. ‘Of course!’ we all said. ‘We’re really hardcore, we can totally take this’. We met once to discuss training and plans over dinner – and then, as with all best laid plans, life got a little bit in the way. There was work, and holidays, and injuries and well, it couldn’t be that hard could it?

A week before the event I went into flat panic. I knew I could manage the running. But the obstacles? What if I fell and broke something? Or worse? What if I couldn’t *do* any of them? Cue massive online crowd sourcing and googling – which put most of my anxiety to rest. Basic fitness should do. But only just. So that just left me time to paint my nails. Race day nails are a sacred tradition.

Saturday morning arrived and the day started with an alarm call at 6am, not my usual weekend routine (urg), and we were all more than a little bleary eyed in the cab ride from West London down to Battersea Power Station (thanks National Rail for your impeccably timed engineering works). But the cobwebs were briskly blown away by the Arctic temperatures we were greeted with when arriving at the site. It was BRASS MONKEYS cold. Even with five layers and a hoodie, at 7:30am the sun had made absolutely no impact whatsoever. My first thought was, how on earth were we going to manage an ice bath? And secondly what the actual f*ck was I thinking? No training! Freezing conditions! *meltdown*

But at least it wasn’t raining. It is November after all, miraculous weather!

Well hello there Battersea Power Station, looking all sunshine pretty!

By 8am we had signed our disclaimers (favourite phrase: ‘No Showboating on the obstacles’) and located the bag drop. Other than having to pay an additional £2 for the bag drop (remember – this race cost £65 to enter…) the whole process ran like clockwork. Bags sorted, race numbers picked up (with safety pins included and they provided pens, luxury) and we were ready to go.

Obstacles! Strategy! *actual fear of death* 

The Mud Honeys: (L-R) Christina, me, Matlida, Tina and Chris

Just after 9am, we were ushered to the start line, and after a very quick warm up and debrief on safety (‘Don’t play with the traffic on Queenstown Road’) we started at bang on 9:15, the allocated slot for Wave Two. We were right to pick an early start, thankfully very little mud at the beginning of the course and after clambering over the first obstacle of hay bales we were off to tackle the rest.

A bit of jumping, criss crossing, and clambering and we found ourselves at the Monkey Bars. Given I have very little upper body strength, I was dreading this one the most so was very pleased it came so early in the race. The actual bars happened to be rather high off the ground and I could not reach them without a jump off the base bars. My actual nightmare and while we were contemplating whether to jump and swing, the girl in front of us lost her grip, fell and and landed slightly askew on her ankle with a sickening ‘crack’. White with shock, she said, very calmly ‘I think I heard something crack’. We agreed. Again, the race was spectacularly catered for and huge kudos to the marshals, who got her off the course out of harm’s way. They got her looked after very quickly, and it looked like she was in safe hands, so we moved along.

Tina, Matilda and I decided risking it this early on, wasn’t good strategy, but props to Chris and Stina who missed the drama as they were already half way across!

Thankfully that was the only real drama we encountered for the rest of the race. We took a quick stretch break on the run in Battersea Park to support Christina who was soldering through with a leg injury (hero), and I need an extra boost (or three!) up some of the steeper walls.

The moment when I encountered what looked like a rather long drop off on obstacle –  and froze – wasn’t a highlight.  I over thought the issue and got completely paralysed with my fear of heights, not able to jump down (for fear of hearing *that* crack) but equally I couldn’t turn around and go back. This was when I was so thankful I was competing with a team. Tina calmly explained, while shouting up at me, that I just needed to turn around and lower myself backwards. Simples. It really was.

This issue comes up again and again with me, over analysing and then just getting stuck (sometimes literally, legs swinging off the top of a wall thinking the marshals would have to come lift me down after everyone else had finished). I am my own worst enemy, if I get out of my own way and just DO IT, the course goes so much smoother. These little epiphanies I have while covered in mud and sweat. Wish I could have them while sitting in my slippers on the sofa drinking green tea, but hey. I’ll take my inspiration where I can find it. I tend to find it while partaking in mad, crazy, and usually strenuous, activities.

Having climbed up and over countless walls, we finally got to the ice baths and mud tips. By that point we were pretty warm and the freezing water wasn’t nearly as bad as I had built it up to be in my head (at 3am this morning, debating my chances of survival). Another theme. It usually is never as bad as we make it out to be in our heads. But it was cold. My breathing went all weird.

This was followed by more water, climbing and clambering and finally we hit the last obstacle – the infamous Wall of Fame. This took some serious team work and bit of help from the general population, a boost up and then a pull over. Shout out to the large lovely ginger bloke who came to our rescue when we couldn’t get Chris over  (thanks mainly to my lack of upper body power!).

And that was that! I think we did it in 1hr 15mins or so, not bad considering we had a laugh, took a stretch break (or two) and we finished together as a team ‘Leave No Woman Behind!’. Heroes.

No photographic evidence as yet, but I’ll update the blog post when the official pics come through. My knees are bruised and battered beyond all recognition (that Over & Under obstacle that we had to do FOUR times is responsible for that. OUCH). But otherwise, we were all high enough on adrenalin to vogue out, post race. Check it.

Matlida’s face PRICELESS (2nd from right)

Bad Ass. And the sun is in my eye 

BLING!!

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