The Queen tribute playing at Trafalgar Square put it best: One man. One goal. One vision. Now I’m not talking about Runner’s Knee’s quest to try and enjoy a British 10k, I’m talking about my own mission to try and hit another sub 40 minute 10k on the race where it all began in 2012.
The British 10k is a race that Mrs A and I always do for charity to raise money for the hospital that my two sons were born in, so this is an event that’s always firmly written into our calendar in permanent marker. I knew this race would make me work till I ache my bones, but I felt ready for it.
The Avery fan club joined Mrs A and I to Green Park tube station which was only a stone’s throw from the start line. It was very quiet when we arrived, but we knew this was the norm as the pre-race guide informs people they should cross the Seven Seas of Rye to the bag drop. After taking the boys to the portaloo (my sons I mean, not Uncle Tony and my Dad), I bumped into fellow #teamblack member, Kyla who told me this was her first British 10k. She was aiming to get a good time, but mainly just enjoy it which is actually how it should be. Maybe I will start following that advice one day….
After hearing the tannoy telling us to make our way to the start pens, I made the slow walk to Pen B. This was just behind the lead pack and as was the same last year, was very quiet. The pre-race advice was the expected “don’t go too quick as it’s bloody hot” and after a few words from the magnificent Kelly Holmes, we were off under a sea of confetti. Like shooting stars leaping through the sky like a tiger, we headed towards the lights of Piccadilly before turning left up Regent Street. The steel band in the middle of the road that added as the entertainment were exceptional and hitting the first mile in just under six minutes was a kind of magic….
Looping back around, we made our way back towards Piccadilly and towards Pall Mall. My legs were feeling strained trying to maintain a pace that I knew I wouldn’t be able to hold, but I just kept saying to myself if I can keep this up until 5k, I’d have a bit of time in the bag to play with.Running along Trafalgar Square is the toughest part of this race, as there is a slope that seems to go on for an age. It isn’t necessarily a steep one, but having to attack this at pace after doing two miles in just over twelve minutes was an absolute Killer. It keeps Moet et Chandonin her pretty cabinet as it seems totally innocent and inviting, but halfway up you can really feel the burn building in your legs.
Once at the top, we looped back round and was given the reward of sprinting back down towards the Strand and the Embankment for the final stretch. Back on a flat surface, I felt myself pick the pace up again and knew I didn’t have long until it was over. Seeing Westminster in the distance was the beacon I needed, telling me that all I had to do was loop back around Westminster Bridge and do the final couple of kilometres before heading to the finish line.The Embankment was hot, so I took the sensible choice to run under the car wash that they had built just before the turn onto the bridge and kept going towards the finish. Some people around me had stopped to catch their breath, but I kept going as fast as I could to get to the end.The atmosphere on the bridge was electric and was really making me live, whatever this world can give to me. It kept me going and I knew I was on for my sub-40 target before something happened that made me go Radio Gaga.
With the 9km marker touching distance away, the 40 minute pacer who had stuck with me close enough to be considered my best friend overtook me. The sense of deflation washed over my like a tsunami and I knew that I would be back in the 40+ territory for the first British 10k since 2015. As he pulled away from me and we ran up towards Downing Street, I resigned myself to defeat. That was until I saw the lead car pulled over at the side of the road….Is this real life? Is this just fantasy? I asked as the clock on the lead car displayed just over 38 minutes. 38 minutes? That must mean he has got his timing wrong? I had two minutes to do around 500 metres. I could do this, I just knew I had to dig deep and break free and oh how I want to break free!
On the final stretch I could see the clock ticking and knew I could sneak under, but also knew I couldn’t take it for granted. Digging as deep as I could, I opened my stride and crossed the line in 39:51. The sense of relief replaced the earlier tsunami of disappointment and although I had cut it fine I had done it. This race was tough, but I was happy with my time and how I managed to finish.
Picking up medal and goody bag was brilliant and I made my way to meet the fan club before being joined by Mrs A who ran a great race too.They say us runners are mad, but this is something I love to do and no matter how painful it is at times, I won’t give it up. It’s a crazy little thing called love.