Yep, you read that correctly!
Ages ago I signed up to this race, when it was the Wholefoods breakfast race. There was a choice of 5, 10 or 15k, so I went for the latter thinking that I was doing a 10 mile race the week before, so would be fine for that distance.
The t-shirt I ordered when I booked it still said Wholefoods
But at some point it changed over to Breast Cancer Care run, and I think possibly the route changed too as I was expecting to run along by the Thames. Originally I was going to drive down there, but this week the email said that the roads and car park would shut by 9am (my 15k wave didn’t go until 10.20) and I didn’t fancy getting up too early for a 90+ min drive on my own. So we booked a hotel, drove down after dinner on Friday, and then this morning Andy dropped me off at the park before he was off to Southampton.
The website was rather vague, saying that there were train stations but the start was quite a distance, but didn’t specify anything. The walk I did turned out to be 2k.
I saw a stag sitting in the ferns on the way up. I had my bag with me (the website said there was a bag drop) but when I got there someone came up and snatched my bag out of my hands and snapped at me “you missed it”- I felt really bad as I didn’t realise it had a closing time. I arrived at 10.10 so only just in time. There was a warm up, and I am not making this up, they did static stretches and at one point the lady said “if it’s not hurting you are not stretching enough”. What now???
The run briefing on the start line was a bit worrying as the guy was telling us “turn right at the first split point, remember to turn right, then later turn left, the repeat this bit”- I was very confused but luckily the course turned out to be well sign posted. Anyway, we had tags for shoes but there was no mat to cross at the start line. I hung back a bit as most of the 15k group looked pretty hardcore!
The course was lovely- it looped down to where I had come in (the stag was still there) and then up alongside more beautiful parkland. There was a large herd of deer further along- I was pretty happy spotting them while I ran. We ran the 5k route first, so at 4k people were cheering “not long to go”- er, not long until 1/3 of the way! The marshals on the route were great too, all cheering and chatting to the runners, and the photographers were shouting out “smile” before they took the photos.
Just before the 5k mark another runner started chatting to me, and we ran together until the 10k point when she picked up the pace a bit. At the 5k point we had to run past the finish line and then started a loop with 5-10 and 11-15k markers (we ran it twice). This loop was pretty (more herds of deer) but it was fairly undulating, with a few out and back parts which can feel a bit disheartening when you can see everyone on the “back” bit. Also the final 2k of each loop was uphill and into the wind- tough! I saw that at the 10k point (again right by the finish- very jealous of all the 10k runners at that point) at 58 minutes, so I was pretty pleased with my pace. At one point I thought I saw parrots- several birds flew across my path and they were bright green- I did wonder if they were woodpeckers, but they were too big and had such long tails.
I was very relieved when I reached the 14k marker, but that final k seemed to go on for ages (did I mention it was uphill?).
I crossed the finish line and felt really dizzy for a moment, and a marshal handed me a handful of powergel fruit puree things, and then someone else gave me some coconut water. I was after my bag, but it turned out that the finish area was different to the start area, and as I had missed the van (I didn’t know there was a van) so I had to walk back. The weather was OK- quite humid and it didn’t rain, but I was getting quite cold so the way back. I also saw more deer, but my phone was in my bag so I couldn’t take a photo.
I finally reached my bag and put my hoodie on.
I also took time to admire my medal!
Then it was time to try and get home. Rater naively I thought that seeing as the race was in London, public transport would be fine. I asked a marshal where I could get a taxi from, and she pointed me to another gate, so I walked down that way. A deer ran across the road, and I saw the parrots.
One was right in the knot of that tree but flew away as I took the picture.
There were some public toilets so I popped in to change before heading out of the park. It turned out the road was a red route, so no chance of hailing a cab. I found a couple of bus stops but they weren’t going to Wimbledon (where I needed to get to) so I walked to a parade of shops and called a taxi (my phone battery was going at this point so I was rather nervous). The taxi cost £20! Oh my goodness me! There was a sign saying 3 miles to Wimbledon common, but I didn’t think the station was that close so I didn’t fancy walking it.
Then, I got to the station, had 2 mins to get a ticket and catch a train (phew- also I was planning on listening to some podcasts, but could not because of my phone battery- had a free magazine in the goody bag which I held out hopes for, but it turned out to be Grazia- what a load of rubbish that magazine is) but then that train cancelled itself at Kings Cross, so I had to get off and wait….. urgh by this point I was so tired. I had not had lunch (I had one of the powergel fruit things, a mini bag of popchips and some water) and just wanted a shower. My mum picked me up from the station and took me home- I think I got home at half 3! Not ideal! I mentioned the parrots to my mum, who said what they were (some sort of parakeet or something) and said that they had one in their garden once. At least I wasn’t hallucinating!
Random goody bag including mission deli wraps, Bear cereal and more poweraid fruit puree stuff.
Anyway, 15k done. Beautiful scenic route, loved seeing the deer, but think I should have thought it all through a bit better! Think local races are more my thing!
Now I just have to wait and see if I get an official time 🙂
EDIT- I didn’t get the text in the end, but just looked it up and I finished in 1:30.41- I am pleased with that as I think it compares to my 10 mile time.
Although a rather spectacular positive split- my 5k’s went 27.58, 30.32 and 32.11! (And in fact I think I did the first 5k even quicker as there were no mats on the start for the chips so I think everyone “started” at the same time, whereas at the 5, 10 and 15k points there were mats).