The Bupa London 10,000, now rebranded as the Vitality London 10,000, is hands-down my favourite running event. Organised by the same team as the Virgin London Marathon and Adidas Silverstone Half Marathon, it boasts buttery smooth organisation and fantastic crowd support in the world’s greatest capital city. I pretty much see this event as a shortened version of the London Marathon, as it takes in many of the city’s most distinguished landmarks. I have run this event every year since 2012 (which was also my first ever road race), so have a special connection with it. I have been struggling with a gluteal injury since last summer, which has meant that I have been spending significantly less time running (and more time cycling). However, as things improved over the past few weeks, I could not pass up the opportunity to run today, so I signed-up in late April.
I have significantly PBd at this event every year. In 2012, I finished in 57 minutes. In 2013, 48 minutes. In 2014 I really got into running and finished in 43 minutes, and in 2015, my current 10k PB of 37:08. Taking huge chunks of my 10k PB year on year, I knew that I would not be able to continue this streak due to my very low running mileage. I have only just started to run more consistent mileage over the past 6 weeks, averaging around 25-28km/week. It was my aim to simply get back into running following my injury, and I was aiming for a sub-40 today. So, how did the race go?
I woke-up at 6:15, with more sleep than I could have hoped for before an event. This is always the case before any racing event for me, where I don’t sleep well. I recall that before the Brighton marathon, I barely sleep for 2-3 hours! Breakfast consisted of cereal, a banana, and nutria-grain bar. I got the train from Woodford just after 8:00am, and arrived at Green Park at just before 9:00am. This gave me plenty of time to go to the toilet and engage in a decent warm-up, consisting of dynamic stretches and a few strides. I met Jonathan Wooldridge (a fellow ELR) before I warmed-up.
Admittedly, I was a little nervous, as this was only my second race of the year, having completed a 5k at the Velopark last month. I know there are a lot of top athletes at the Vitality 10k, and although my aim is not to compete against anyone (apart from myself), the atmosphere can induce some degree of stomach churning on that start-line. This is particularly noticeable at the start, with plenty of sub-35 10k club runners bouncing up and down, ripped calves rippling as they engage in warm-up strides before funnelling into their start pens.
This was the first year that the colour waves were not divided into further separate waves (A, B and C), as with previous years. Last year I was in RED A, and fortunate enough to cross the start-line 2 seconds after gun-time, just behind the elites. I tried my best to get somewhere near the front, and managed to cross the start-line just after gun-time. This was fine, as I was not planning to finish as strong as last year, and was content enough to just have a clear run. There were quite a few misplaced runners near the front, and this was a common complaint I saw on social media following the event, too, meaning a slow start for many runners gunning for a time.
I tried not to go off too fast and get caught up in the buzz and excitement. This takes more will-power than one may think! The start on The Mall is very flat, and it is easy to go off too hard. I finished the first kilometre in 3:47, which was a little faster than I wanted. I felt fine for the first kilometre, and oddly found kilometres 2-5 a bit of a struggle. A fellow (former) ELR runner Russell Price ran past me early on, and said something like, “Go on, Andy”, which helped lift my spirits a bit. I was knocking out fairly consistent splits. I was over the 5km matt in just over 19 minutes, which meant I was easily on track for a sub-40. Kilometres 5-8 felt a lot better and easier. Then again, at the 8 kilometre mark, I felt a little drained, but knew that I didn’t have long to go. I was also continually checking my watch and actually knew that I was on target to get a sub-39 today. Once I passed Big Ben and the 9km mark, I reached Birdcage Walk and began to feel stronger. At the 800m to go sign, I knew it was still early to up my pace by too much. I then saw 400m to go and began to increase my pace a little more. I always like to finish strong, and as soon as I saw the 200 metres to go sign, I was elated. I picked up my pace, and as soon as I saw the 100 metres to go sign, really pushed hard. Of course I knew this would only shave a few seconds off my time and there was no PB today, but I really do enjoy finishing fast! Seeing 38 minutes on the clock was uplifting, and better than I had expected today.
My aim was simply to keep each kilometre <3’55”, and then pick-up the pace in the final kilometre with a sprint finish. I think I followed this plan pretty well, and here is a breakdown of my splits. Interestingly, according to my fenix 3, I ran 10.20km and had an average pace of 3:47/km. Maybe I did run over 10km, but as always, chip time prevails and my official finishing time was 38:43.
Okay, so no PB today, but that was expected. Considering my low mileage (less than 400km in 2016), I think I have done okay! For the rest of 2016, I am just concentrating on bringing my running power back, and hoping that 2017 will be a good year for some PBs. The goody bag was very nice this year, and I was pleasantly surprised to get a lovely adidas Tech tee, instead of the cotton ones from previous years. A little long, but really nice! The medal was also really awesome, featuring the course on the reverse.
After the race I went to Starbucks for some well deserved coffee and a BLT. Sania and I then walked around London for a while before ending up in Holborn where we had some Korean food at Kim Chee, and finally walked to Bank station from where we caught the tube and headed home. All that post-run walking around was definitely beneficial for the legs. I absolutely cannot wait for next year’s event!