RunThrough Olympic Park 10k

With the corona on the up again, I’m not sure how many of my running events will go ahead any more. I’m constantly expecting that email to drop telling me yet another has been cancelled. I’m over virtual medals and not-parkruns and ready to race, so I was extremely happy when the extravaganza at my local-ish park failed to be coronaed off.

There’s a brand new course in the North Park now. I’m not sure if this is because of the growing sprawl of annoying buildings taking over the South Park, or because the North Park is quieter and less full of germ ridded public members, but whatever the reason, I think it is possibly my favourite ever Olympic Park route and hope it is here to stay. It’s a couple of loops around (not through) the wetlands area, the Timber Lodge and along the river bank. There’s one steepish downhill and one corresponding uphill per lap and lots of off-flat bits and other than a few metres at the start and finish on grass, it’s all on good quality wide tarmac paths.

This was my third 10k race After Lockdown, and it’s taken me a while to get into the swing of running hard for that distance. Although I ran 10k+ plenty of times over the summer they were all at a very easy pace and 10k seems a lot further when you are running at full pelt. My PB from last summer was 1:10:53 and I got quite close to this in my other races, so I knew I was in with a good chance if I pushed myself a bit harder.

I bought (at great expensive) this supposedly super-accurate foot pod thing called a Stryd over the summer. Its makers, and seemingly everyone else who uses one, goes on about how it measures distance much better than GPS but since I got I’ve had some very suspect paces and distances cropping up in my training and my two 10ks have both come out as 10.3km and my 5km came out at 4.86km which is a bigger difference than I ever saw using GPS. I do find the Stryd very useful for the power training aspect (it is great for pacing yourself up hills) and the support team have been very responsive so hopefully I’ll be able to get it working more as expected soon. Anyway, the upshot of this was that I wasn’t quite sure if my pace was sufficiently fast for a PB. My watch said it was, but I was aware that I was passing the kilometre markers late. As I reached the bottom of the last hill, with about 300 metres to go, my watch buzzed to tell me that I had approximately two minutes to reach the finish line if I wanted a PB. So near and yet so far, there was only one thing to do but sprint for it. Sprinting up a hill is not much fun at the best of times, but after running 9.7k as fast as I possibly could it nearly killed me. At the top of the hill I was overtaken by a distinct desire to drop to the floor and vomit profusely, but obviously stopping to vomit is not conducive to getting a PB, and would had been a waste of all that effort sprinting up the hill, so I told myself to hold it in. Just get over the finish line and THEN you can puke as much as you like.

There was some ungainly wretching as I stumbled across the grass and then of course I stopped and didn’t need to vomit any more because the nasty running had gone away. I couldn’t speak for a good couple of minutes but I managed to communicate in monosyllables: “Did it!” My time was 1:10:14 which is actually 49 seconds off my PB so really I could have stopped to vomit, or better still, NOT run up the hill like a lunatic. I will work on my maths before the next race.

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