Polar Bears, Saint Bernards and a Negative Split, Oh My!

This morning was the Cancer Research UK London Winter Run, 10km looping from Trafalgar Square to Bank and back again. I was lucky enough to grab a free entry when Gill Bland (of Bland on the Run) wasn’t able to use her prize from Gemma Hockett’s Christmas competition (find her at The Marathon Girl). To honour Gemma’s initial competition (which involved wearing a Christmas jumper) and to channel the spirit of the Winter Run, I decided to run the race wearing a polar bear jumper – a bit silly because it was very hot!

After racing a 10km two weeks ago, I wasn’t keen to go for another fast time. Instead, I ran the race as the second part of a long run, the first half of which was a 10km easy run to the start of the race. I had cooled down between arriving at the event and crossing the start line a half hour later, but I needed to be there early to ‘borrow’ some safety pins off my friend Tom because I had forgotten to pack some! 🙈

With Tom, my safety-pin hero! He ended up 12th in a cracking 35:47 WOAH

I was meant to start in the 9:38 wave, but got mixed up in the start funnel and found myself at the back of the 9:30 wave instead. This meant that I spent the first few kilometres finding my bearings and getting up to speed, but also put me in the great position of slowly overtaking the people in front one by one. I’ve used this approach before in a parkrun and found it very effective, so I may have to test it out in a marathon situation as well.

At the 2km mark my shoelace came undone so I had to stop for a few seconds to tie it up (difficult with frozen fingers!), but after that I really hit my stride. My aim was to run between 45 and 50 minutes (4:30-5:00/km pace) and I was now sitting comfortably in the high 4:30s. Then after the water stop at 5km (bottles, yes!), the next time my watch beeped I had just run a 4:20. I slowed up a touch to make sure I wouldn’t blow up, but the pace had nicely improved by 10 sec/km and I was feeling great. I took a gel at 7km and rolled up my sleeves for some blissful cool air and continued chugging along.

Everything was going supremely well, I was happy and running strong without feeling like I was struggling at all. This was great! I crossed the line in 46:30, very pleased with myself indeed – and then later figured out that I had run a negative split. YES! That was a goal I had set myself but not achieved in 2016, so I am stoked to finally tick it off. It’s a good feeling to still have energy in the tank in the final stages of the race, rather than having to hold on and push with everything you have.

While my running was solid, the race itself was fairly uninspiring. Despite all the people dressed up as polar bears, huskies and penguins, and the organised groups singing or playing drums at the side of the road, there was very little support or cheering from anyone other than volunteers. I found the course uninspiring, and on the whole probably not worth the entry fee that I thankfully didn’t have to pay. Most of all though, I was quite annoyed to find out that after all my stress of forgetting safety pins because we were clearly told they would not have any, there were plenty to be had – if you just knew where to look. Grr.

And yet, I enjoyed my run, got a very nice shiny medal, and saw a lot of different friends who all seemed to have great races. Plus I got to hug this gigantic fluffy Saint Bernard which was awesome!

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