This is the third year for London’s Biggest Party Race and for me last year didn’t count. I had run Back-to-Back-To-Back Races over the same weekend, with Rock the Road being the final event; I wasn’t even close to a personal best and eventually ran out of gas in the last couple of kilometers.
This year, there was a plan and a purpose. Could I find my speed and run the course as fast as I did in the inaugural race in 2011?
My race preparation put me out on the course over the past month to get a feel for the transition from downhill of Richmond Street to gradual uphill over the bridge approaching Windemere, and the relative shade of Regent Street to the unrelenting sun along Adelaide. I was prepared, who else knew about the gravelly construction section where Waterloo crossed Regent. Up early to pick-up my traditional coffee, I catch the Co-Race Director Chantelle Wilder flying along Adelaide running the course before the roads are blocked off. Speaking later, she found the gravelly section and sent along word to have it swept as best as possible. So much for my fleeting tactical advantage of ensuring there were Rocks on the Road.
Attendance this year was up, a great sign for things to come. Also made finding place in the starting chute interesting, I stayed outside and away from getting pressed in along the sidewalk for the crazy downhill to begin the race.
In the inaugural race, I felt like my start was wild and uncontrolled, flying down the hill and into the first couple of kilometers. This year I was controlled and calculating but my pacing was off. My right hamstring has been bothering me so it was taped to add some support. Mechanically I was fine but the drive through the leg just wasn’t there. My goal was to even out at 4:16min/km splits through the race. I was on pace for the first three and almost four kilometers and using the young woman in front of me to monitor my pace as she looked strong. I felt fine through the elevation change approaching Regent and made the turn happy but unable to hold the pace as planned. Pressing he lap button at the 5KM marker someone called out the split at 21:50, almost identical to finishing time of Reach the Beach the weekend before. Make no mistake, that first 5K is fast.
I lost my pace pal shortly after this point, I tried for a second cup of water at the first aid station on Adelaide, the first went down my back. The sun was hot. I missed the last volunteer in line’s hand with the cup and didn’t want to break stride to go back and take it. These things happen but after that water station, I never saw my new pacing friend. From there on I ran on my own, working my way up over the bridge, surging on the down hills, slowly reeling in people in front of me. While I knew a PB was out of reach the race wasn’t - I was catching people even if I wasn’t running as fast as I had hoped.
The race became a game of attrition as the heat took its toll. Finally in the last 1500 meters I was passed, the guy was tall and not in my age bracket, man that guy was tall. I let him go and focused on finishing strong and having a wee bit of fun.
|Où est la bière|
Since there weren’t any photographers in front of the bands to photobomb this year, I opted to plea for beer as I approached the finish. My photographic evidence clearly has Chantelle directing me to the beer tent of the premiere sponsor - Michelob Ultra. Greatly appreciated, the directions were spot on perfect as they also led directly across the finish line. Seems I finished sub 45 minutes for only the second time in five years of racing. Quick enough to place first in my age bracket and thankful to receive a fantastic gift basket with lots of coffee!
Check back later for a special posting about who I met post race ... Hint he really knows how to run in the heat.