After my disappointment at Hackney, where the organisers at Virgin Sport refused to allow me to defer my place or refund me after a injury post London Marathon, I did not have high hopes about how the British 10k event would turn out.
Having run it in 2016, when it was organised by Vitality, I got one of my best times for a 10k race – getting closer to the sub 60 minutes I am constantly chasing.
On arrival, it was very clear that the organisation had been stepped up a notch. With several different waves and what looked like many more runners than the previous year (though Virgin Sport are yet to confirm the total number of runners), the organisation was, in my eyes flawless, the finish, goody bag, medal and finishers t-shirt amazing. Last year I was very close to the start line from the get go, where as this time round my pen congregated on St James’s Street – which meant that it took me a good 20 minutes to cross the start line. This leads me to believe that there were, indeed, more runners than the previous event in 2016.
I am not going to lie – this event was a struggle for me. It was one of my worst 10k times to date – but none of it was down to the organisation and planning of the event itself.
I was lost.
Lately I have let external factors into my running. Something that clearly showed on Sunday. Yes, the race was hot, there was little air and there were far too many bodies around me – but I have dealt with this before.
My problem was that my mind would not remove itself from recent stresses and trauma – something that I had experienced throughout the week in the lead up to race day. My mind was heavy and where I would usually be able to de-stress through running – this time I couldn’t. I could not compartmentalise my problems and lock them away in a box like I usually do. As such, my running was an issue. My legs, my mind and my breathing became heavier with each step and I just wanted to give up – not the first time I have felt this way in the past few weeks.
But – like anyone with determination and a little grit – I had to come away with a medal. And with this in mind, along with the ever amazing spirit that surrounds road races in our glorious capital city – I kept on. I walked at times when my thoughts took over my mind, I ran and then when it came to that final corner I powered through to take out as many people I could towards the finish. Sprinting the last 500 meters like I did the previous year, over taking and over exerting myself in the last few steps.
And then I wondered, will I ever find running easy? Will I ever be able to obtain the sub 60 minute goal? I have come very close at times, and with a little bit of a push I could beat my PB of 62 minutes.
But, when push comes to shove, does it really matter if I don’t? Today something exceptional happened. I set my Garmin’s GPS running at the start of Harlow parkrun to discover it had very low battery. So I ran blind. It was recording my time, my distance and my pace – but I had no idea what they were. And in running blind, I went back to basics and finished with a time that was 45 seconds faster than my PB.
So it makes me wonder, as always, if we spend far too much time thinking about time.
Think about the journey. My journey during Virgin Sports British 10k was over cast with gloomy clouds – but I finished. My journey at Harlow parkrun today was blind, and I conquered more of the hills I hate, at the same time giving me a PB.
Lesson learned? To take each day as it comes. The good days are fantastic, cherish them, build on them. But the bad days – cherish them too as you will remember these. You will remember the lowest moments and look back on how far you have come.
Bring on Virgin Sport’s British 10k, 2018!