While I was in London a Twitter friend and blog reader told me about a cool race series that was scheduled for Thursday evening while I was in London last week. After my disastrous run on Tuesday night I was reluctant to venture out on my own again and the race was 5k which was actually perfect for my training plan.
The race was run by The Race Organiser, who organise a lot of races in and around London. They also provide services to other races to with things such as race management, race timing and photography. A 5k race around the Olympic Park was scheduled for the Thursday at 6.30pm which was perfect timing for me. I finished my course at 5pm, went back to the hotel, got changed and walked to the nearby tube. The tube journey didn’t take long and I was rather chuffed with myself for having figured it out on my own without going wrong(!). However, when I got to Stratford I realised I didn’t know exactly where the Park was.
I ended up walking around in circles for a bit and my lovely accrued buffer time slowly ticked away and I started to panic. Finally though I found the way (I was the wrong side of station I think) and then desperately looked around for fellow runners.
When I go to different parkruns, for example, it’s always handy when you get close when you can see runners heading in the general direction and so I just follow them. There weren’t any runners I could see though and the Olympic Park grounds are actually quite big. Eventually though I asked a security guard and he pointed me in the right direction.
A little race HQ area was set up with a table and marshals handing out the race packs. There were real toilets nearby (opposed to portable loos!) and the race bibs were chipped. I realised it wasn’t a huge event as 16 people shuffled up to the race briefing. I suddenly felt a little nervous as I was expecting a few more people. With so few people I felt a bit exposed…I wasn’t up for a fast run and the guys around me looked rather speedy.
But hey ho, no backing out now! The event director explained the route (three laps outside the Olympic Park, though the first lap included a little out and back to make sure the distance added up as there was a slight diversion on the course due to construction). He mentioned it was clearly sign posted and there were several marshals pointing the way.
I still felt a bit nervous. I mean, I’m not the best at directions (as has been made very clear lately) and if there are only 16 of us I might not have a person straight in front of me to follow if they’ve all dashed off.
But anyway we started and I went way too fast for the first 500m as I desperately didn’t want to get left behind. I think everyone felt similarly and as we got into the first mile we found our more natural paces. Luckily there were a couple of people (including my friend, Dasen) ahead of me who I could follow. I didn’t feel particularly comfortable in my running in terms of my pace and wondered if I could hold onto it for long, seeing a crash in the near future. I reminded myself it was just three miles and to hold on.
I managed to overtake the couple of guys ahead and felt myself getting strong as the race continued and this gave me confidence. The marshals were lovely, smiling and cheering us on and the temperature was a little warm but not too bad. The course was relatively flat with a few gentle inclines and declines and the wind wasn’t strong. So all in all, perfect conditions really and this spurred me on to run faster than I would have done had I been running solo.
I increased my speed at the end, feeling a lot stronger and knowing I didn’t have long to go. I finished in seventh place overall and second female (the joys of a very small race!). My time was 23:22. For not wanting to run fast (for me!) that evening, I was quite pleased at how I got my body moving in the end.
I haven’t done any speed work in months (something I really must improve on) so I can’t expect super fast times but the effort level was there so I’m happy with a good solid workout.
I received a second place prize of some interesting detox drink powder things… (I’m slightly annoyed as I did take a photo of the goodie bag contents but I think I deleted it). The goodie bag was great: Haribo sweets, a health drink, a tester pouch of the detox stuff I won, a cereal bar, a water and a medal.
I spoke to the event director and they were super friendly. I said how much I enjoyed it (well, enjoyed finishing anyway!) and how organised it was for such a small event. I even got a photo of them (which they found hilarious).
It’s not the cheapest race in the world (I think for an affiliated runner it was around £17-18) but I definitely felt like I got my money’s worth as the organisation and location were superb. We were emailed out times later.
I chatted to Dasen afterwards and we got a selfie together, of course 😉 He lives just a tube stop away so it’s very handy for him!
A great race, all in all for a random Thursday night in London! Then it was a quick hop on the tube back to the hotel. No getting lost thankfully!
Do you run many 5ks (excluding parkruns)? I tend to avoid them like the plague ordinarily!
Have you ever done a super small race before?
Have you done many races in London before? This was my second one. My first was another race (a 5 miler) around the Olympic Park as well.