This weekend was my second time taking part in an Adidas City Run. I did the Shoreditch 10k back in 2017 and it was ok, but not amazing, so I have not gone out of my way to do another. Fulham, however, fitted well with my half marathon training plan and is a fairly novel location, so I thought I’d give it a go.
The biggest negative to these races is that wearing the t-shirt they send you during the race is obligatory. As you know, I do not race in a t-shirt unless it is absolutely freezing. Fortunately, it was pretty damn cold, but I think I would have preferred a vest. The highlight for me was running round Stamford Bridge stadium. As a lower league football fan, it’s always exciting to see the big grounds that Leyton Orient will never get to play at. Unfortunately this came a bit too early in the run and then the excitement was all over and then there were eight kilometres mainly featuring backstreets, speed bumps and the occasionally mini Waitrose to negotiate. At least it didn’t have cobbles like Shoreditch.
As mentioned previously, my left ankle has been giving me a bit of grief lately. I’ve taken to self diagnosis because I don’t trust doctors and can’t afford to see the physio and it seems to be a bit of an inflamed tendon. It’s not painful enough to stop me running but it can be quite sore, particularly if I’ve been standing around or exercising barefoot, and it is definitely slowing me down a little, which is quite irritating because it’s the perfect time of year for PBs but my times aren’t any better than when it was boiling hot. On Sunday I set out okay but tired quickly and started to slow down before I was even at 5k. I suspected this was going to happen, and had set myself a modest goal of finishing sub 75 minutes. And I think I would have, except…
I started a few seconds before the 75 minute pacer, and was pleased to see that every switchback I’d got a bit further away from him. My watch was giving me a decent predicted finish time of 1:12ish. As always, I checked my watch against the kilometre markers to see how much random GPS related distance had been added or lost. I missed a couple of the markers, and I assumed this was because they were black and therefore not very visible, but having read a couple of other people’s comments, I suspect this might have been because they were completely in the wrong place. Those that I did see were all about 100 metres ahead of my watch, which is usual and a normal margin of error. When I passed 9km, my watch said 9.1 and 1:06 and I was quite happy with this as it meant unless it took me more than nine minutes to run a kilometre I would finish within my target.
Well, I actually speeded up for the last kilometre and ran it in seven minutes and one second. With my watch buzzing for 10k, I looked ahead for the finish line, anticipating one final sprint. But there was a long stretch of straight, open road in front of me, people running as far as I could see, and no sign of the finish line. Maybe it was round a corner? I sprinted onwards hopelessly. 10.1, 10.2, 10.3, 10.4… I was losing pace and losing the will to live by the second. Had I accidentally entered a half marathon? Suddenly, there it was, finally, but I had no energy left to sprint for it. My watch said 10.51km and one hour, fifteen minutes and seventeen seconds.
The 75 minute pacer finished two minutes after me.
I know I often make despairing remarks about people who expect their GPS watch to be accurate to the millimetre and declare themselves to have a new PB of whatever the time was when their watch said they had done 10k, despite having a large mound of spaghetti in the middle of their GPS trace, but I am absolutely convinced this race was too long. This view was cemented when I read this post from the 45 minute pacer – he is clearly an experienced and proficient pacer and for (at least) two official pacers to be caught out, something has to be not quite right. The race isn’t UKA affiliated, which means it doesn’t need a certificate of accuracy, but it’s still supposed to be accurate! I noticed that the route had changed slightly around the 9km mark and I wondered if this change necessitated a repositioning of the finish line which somehow didn’t happen. There were many comments about the length of the run on Facebook but no response from the organisers.
Although I was miles away from a PB anyway, missing my target and the uncertainty and annoyance over the distance definitely took the shine off my run. I suppose at least it took my mind off my dodgy foot.
Speaking of the dodgy foot, the Herts Half is on Sunday so I have done my best to rest it, and have done literally nothing in the way of exercise all week. I haven’t even played Pokemon Go! Herts Half is a hilly course so I have no aspirations in terms of time, but I do want to get round as fast as possible and not feel like I am struggling with the distance, and I would prefer any walking to be tactical uphill walking rather than “if I run another step something might drop off” walking.