Vitality 10,000, 10K May 29th 2017

Best played plans….

So here I am, looking forward to running Vitality 10,000 with my running buddy Suzie and for reasons beyond her control, she is no longer able to go.  Therefore, before we even get off the starter blocks, we are both equally devastated, as this was meant to be us conquering not only the 10K but the world of large-scale races too!!

So after much deliberation on my part and cajoling on Suzie’s part I find myself in London the evening before the event minus my running buddy.  Thankfully, though I have another couple of friends running it, so I am fortunate not to be completely alone on the day.

Catching up with friends ….

Since I used to live in London I was quite excited to be back and had arranged to catch up with a friend the evening before the race.  Despite planning to meet in a pub I had promised myself I would not drink alcohol before the race and would get to bed at a reasonable hour.  After all I really did not want anything preventing me from completing this event.

The excitement of seeing my old friend was too much to bear and foolishly my good intentions went by the way side.   One bottle of wine later I stumbled back to my hotel room and bed.  The room was really hot, it was humid and there was no drinking water available.  I struggled to get to sleep but once I finally did, I then struggled to wake!!  When I do manage to wake up I am late, seriously dehydrated and hung over.  Not a great start to say the least!

Dehydration…

This is where things begin to go down hill rapidly.  I rush to the station to meet my friend Nicola who will be running with me.   Nic then guides me to the bag drop and we start to look for some means for me to rehydrate.  We could not find any stalls to buy Lucozade to help get me round despite the run being sponsored by them!!  I managed to find enough water to fill my 500ml water bottle.  The choice was I either drank it all now or drank it during the first 2k as after that there were water stations where I could top up.  I chose to have a few sips now and save the rest for the run.

To exacerbate my situation further the weather was hot with 70% humidity, which would only add to my level of dehydration.  At this point I was seriously regretting the decision to drink the previous evening and the urge to self flagellate was ever-growing!!

Nerves

By the time I got to the start line my nerves had really kicked in.  My stomach was churning, my mouth was even dryer than before and I had the headache from hell.  Why, oh why, oh why, had I been so stupid?

Luckily I had Nic running with me who understood that this was my first 10K race and seemed determined to help me complete it.  Nic was sure going to have her work cut out to achieve that!

And so the run begins..

The start gun sounded and we were off.  OMG I was running the vitality 10K; OMG I was running the vitality 10K;  OMG I WAS RUNNING THE VITALITY 10K!!!!!   What the hell was I thinking,  what if I can’t do this?  I had no choice I was going to do this for Suzie and Heidi (fellow runner and my coach) if it killed me.  Which it very nearly did….

I started well, although my pace was constantly interrupted by people over taking and then some of those that overtook me, tired and slowed and I ended up passing them again.  To add to this the route would narrow at certain points and this caused a bottleneck which almost bought everyone to a standstill.  I found  it quite frustrating as it really did mess with my ability to get a rhythm going and pace myself.  In order to overcome my frustration, I decided to run on the pavement so I could get out of the way of the other runners and keep a rhythm and pace myself better.

First 1k down – checked myself – thirsty, hot and sweaty but managing,  I might be OK after all.  I ran past people playing bongo’s, along with banners reading you can do it, keep going!  It was lovely to feel so supported and at that point, It made me feel incredibly proud of what I was doing.

Photo Opportunity

On route to reaching my 2k I came across the courts of justice which I promised I would photograph for a friend who works as a court clerk.  I can safely say it was not the best photo I have ever taken as you can only see the bottom of the building.  I am not the best photographer anyway but when your running and taking a photo……  But at least I took it!

Getting hotter….

The Kilometres seemed further apart now and so the 3K felt like it was taking forever.  I was hot dehydrated and growing ever more tired.

By the time I got to 4K  I started to struggle to keep my temperature under control.    I was sweating profusely and becoming increasingly more dehydrated and tired.  Nic, was helping me to keep my temperature down by handing me discarded bottles of water so that I could pour it over my head to cool down.  This certainly helped but only for brief periods as no sooner I poured it over me, my body was on fire again.

I was seriously struggling and the 5k felt flaming hideous.  By this point in the race I was not only hot, dehydrated and tired but I was beginning to panic.  None of these emotions were going to help me reach the 10K in fact the panic and the ever-growing negativity  were setting me up to fail.

All time low…

I made 5K but it had been the hardest 5k I had ever run and I knew I simply did not have the physical capacity or mental strength to carry on.   I knew I was finding it harder and harder to control my temperature and before long would be headed for heat stroke.  I was not going to make the 10K so at 5.5 K, I threw the towel in and started to walk.

Crowd support…

Then I heard a yell from the crowd ‘don’t stop, keep going you can do this’.  I began to feel pathetic and knew I needed to complete this somehow.   I did not have the ability to run constantly so I decided to adopt a run walk strategy.  At the 800 meter mark a friend of mine who had already completed the race was waiting to cheer me on.  It was really great to see him and that support along with Nic finding water for me to pour over my head and feet, I did manage to complete the 10K in 1 hour 20 minutes.

The finish line…

At the end I was given my goodie bag with my medal in it but I felt so undeserving of the medal that I felt ashamed I had it.  The race had been much worse than I had ever expected due to my own lack of self-control.  I had basically let myself down.

Rationalising…

Yes, I had let myself down but 1 year ago I could not run for a minute, 5 months ago I had only just completed 5k.  I had just run 5.5k of Vitality 10,000 non-stop with the worse hangover ever and seriously dehydrated.  I did in fact complete 10K with a few walk breaks, so I really did earn that medal because I could have just as easily walked off the course and not complete it at all.

Lessons Learned

  1.  Don’t get drunk the night before a race!

  2.  Drink plenty of water and ensure hydrated before and during race.

  3. Don’t start too fast

  4. Train for all weathers

  5. You always deserve a medal if you reach the finish line

Although running Vitality 10,000 was hell this year I do intend to repeat this race next year.   Next year there will be no drinking the night before and so no hangover and I will prove to myself that I can complete this race and I will do it under 1 hr 20 mins.  I know it sounds like hell but I cannot recommend this race enough it was really exciting and would have been amazing if I had not set myself up to fail.

 The anatomy of my first race – Clowance  January 2017

Throughout my running journey to date I have had a lot of what I class as ‘inner chat’ going on in my head.  From what i have read this happens to everyone but I always thought that what others experienced was not as stupid or negative as mine!!  

It would have helped me in the beginning to see what this looked like so that I could have been reassured that I was not the only one going through it.   Also, more importantly, it would have helped me to see this does not mean I cannot be a runner.  

No matter what part of the journey you are on everyone goes through it,  So in the name of honesty and transparency I thought I would share my inner chat from my first ever race.  Hopefully, this will make you feel that you are not going mad and the internal battle is much the same for everyone.

 

Ready; Set; Go….

‘What am I doing here? they are all ‘proper runners’, serious runners’.

I should not be here I am an imposter, a fraud.

They all look so fit and lean – god I must look like a joke to them, unfit and fat, get me out of here….Now.  No you can’t run away you will look pathetic.

Actually are they looking at me – yes they are.  Hold on a moment that guy is smiling at me.  OMG he just wishes me luck.  Crikey how nice is that?!

This is not so bad afterall!
The Starting line – nervous and excited in equal measure.

Over-riding questions

‘Am I ready for this?’

‘Yes I am,  well I think I am’

‘What If I can’t and I have to stop?’

I can do this

‘I don’t want to be last’

‘Oh god we are starting – s–t what was I thinking????

 

First Lap…..

Over-riding thoughts:

‘I can’t do this’ ‘yes you can’.

‘My legs are already tired and it’s the first lap,  I am never going to make it round’  ‘Yes you can Lisa’

‘ I don’t want to stop but I know I can’t do this’. ‘Just keep going a little while longer’

‘ Everone else looks like they are finding it easy’ ‘ I wish someone else would stop then I won’t feel so bad when I do’

‘Lisa you can do this’

‘ I can’t believe I was only 3/4’s of the way round when the first runners ran past us on there second lap-god I really should not be here.  I suppose they have been doing it a while.  If I can make it round I would be happy.  It was nice though that a high proportion were encouraging yelling  – doing well; keep going and don’t give up.  Runners are so friendly.
Lap 2

I need to stop,  I am sooooo tired, I need to stop.

I know I am not going to make it – why bother

I may as well stop now,  why punish myself further,  as I am not going to complete without walking some of it.

I just can’t do it, I really can’t do it.

There is Sue my coach – she has finished already – if only I was that good.

What did she just say ‘ Lisa do you want me to run with you’?  ” Yes please I am not going to complete otherwise’

I need all the help I can get.

Sue:

Lisa your doing great, you have got this.  If you need to slow down that’s not a problem.  In fact slow down a bit it may help.

Me

Ok Sue, but if I slow

I am afraid I am going to stop and I don’t want to stop but I don’t think I can do this.

Sue

If you need to stop – stop and walk for a bit.

Me

No I want to keep going

Sue

Not far now lisa

Me

I thought I was going this way to the finish line – what do you mean it’s that way.  But that’s on an incline!!   With disabling desperation ‘I CAN’T DO THIS’

Sue

Stop and walk before you go round the corner to give you the energy to get up that incline.

Me

OK,  but Sue I don’t think I can do this

Sue

Yes you can – let’s go.

Me

OK.

Sue

Look lisa you can see the finish line

My friend and other coach comes running out and yells Lisa you can do this at the top her lungs.

So end up running in with two out of my three coaches cheering me on.

The Finish Line


I only went and finished it!! I am sooooo relieved that’s over.  Feeling really really overwhelmed – I think I am going to cry.  I am crying why am I crying – I am being ridiculous.  I am such an emotional mess!!

Graduation from Running Club.


What do you mean I get a woolly hat for completing the race?!!  I deserve a flaming medal!!

Ivor/Sue:

That’s OK you have completed the 5k so you now get your running club medal, certificate and bottle of fizz to celebrate..

Me/Suzie

Well, that makes it totally worth it.

What did this Race teach me:

  • You need to run your race and not think about other people’s as it increases your self doubt
  • I have a hell of a lot of negativity going on in my head from before the race starts – I need to learn how to switch it off, drown it out!
  • Always prepare for hills and the unknown like mud!!
  • Don’t walk you always regret it in the end
  • Race’s are addictive!  I am so doing another one!

I now have muddy shoes which shows what I have been through to get this far!  I have made it…..I am a runner 🙂

Acknowledgements

It is at this point I want to say to Sue/Ivor and  Heidi thank-you guys for all the coaching you have given me.  If it was not for you I would not have got through any run much less writing a blog about it.

Tim, Julie, Andrew and of course Suzie my fellow running clubbers – you are all amazing and I love you all.  Thank-you for letting me be part of your running group and becoming my friends.

THANK-YOU,  THANK-YOU,  THANK-YOU