City of London Mile 2016 race report

There are far and few one mile races in the UK. The two major one mile events in London are the Westminster Mile, and City of London Mile. I would love to do the former, which unfortunately takes place a day before the Vitality 10,000, so I never do it to keep my legs fresh for the 10k. The City of London mile is free to enter, and a superb event. Very well organised, with a great atmosphere.

The event has been running for 3 years now, and I first ran it last year. My physical fitness was far superior last year, but I was suffering from a major flare-up of ulcerative colitis. It was immensely difficult for me to get down to the event, and getting home was an absolute nightmare. But I still managed 5:12. As negative as that memory is, I am singly most proud of this race, and it and will stay with me forever. In fact, I was admitted into hospital a week after the event last year, which just gives an idea of how difficult the conditions were for me.  But I digress.

Moving onto 2016, I am in much better health, but have not been doing much running due to a gluteal niggle which has persisted since last September. Fortunately, that has also begun to resolve over the past 2 months, but running mileage has still been low; around 20-25km/week, along with cycling around 110km/week. I have only run just over 400km this year in total, which I would have run in around 7 weeks last year this time! I ran the Vitality 10,000 in 38:43 a few weeks ago, and did a solo training mile in 5:16 last week, which boosted my confidence for today. My long-term goal is to smash the 5-minute barrier for the mile. Would that be possible today with my lack of run training and speed-work? Probably not. So my aim was to hopefully best my time of 5:12 from last year.

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I arrived at St. Pauls underground station just after 9am. I met Stuart Barton and a few other fellow ELR runners before engaging in a warm-up jog, followed by some strides. I was in the first wave, and we were in the starting pen at 9:50am, and started off at 10am on the dot. There were a lot of very fast and talented runners in this wave. After a brief congested start, the wave quickly spread out. I was quite comfortable in my stride, and only glanced down at my watch a few times to check my pace. It was my aim to keep it just over 3 mins/km. I checked my watch again at the 800m mark (around halfway) and saw 2:33, which meant a sub-5 would not be on the cards today. I knew I could not run a negative split.

The course had changed slightly from last year, too. I felt fairly comfortable during the second half, but at the same time was giving it my all. The mile is one of those events where I think it is difficult to gauge how hard you are working, but I was probably at around 90% maximum effort. There was a long stretch to the finish once we passed the Bank of England corner and got to Cheapside. I pushed hard when there was 400m to go, and pushed further during the last 100m. I crossed the finish line and my Garmin showed 5:07. In retrospect, I think I gave it my all, but still feel maybe, just maybe I could have pushed a little harder. I’m not sure, but I’m still very happy with a PB, despite the lack of training.

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After the run, I collected my medal and got some water. Sania and I then stuck around and watched a few more waves before heading for some coffee at Starbucks. We then watched the kids mile waves, which were the highlight of the event in my opinion. Such amazing talent and determination from these kids, along with some hilarious and adorable antics. One kid was even riding a scooter; what a legend!  We also saw the elite women and men going past Bank.

My aim now is to get a few longer runs in on the weekends, and fine-tune with some speed-work sessions. My next race is the ELVIS 3, 5km run, in the Olympic Park on Tuesday, Followed by the Great Newham Run 10k in July, I’d like to get around 18 minutes for the 5k, and have no real goals for the 10k, but around 38 minutes would be fine.

All-in-all, I really enjoyed the City Mile, and would highly recommend it to anyone looking to run a chip-based, timed mile with a friendly atmosphere. I know I’ll be returning next year, hoping to break the 5-minute barrier this time!

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