Sitting in a café, surrounded by people who clearly knew what they were doing did absolutely nothing for my confidence going in to this race. Really, I should have known better, who (apart from me) would sign up to race on a cold Sunday morning in December, other than hard-core veterans? Hard-core veterans who would totally kick my ass.
The week running up to this race was tough going - an ankle injury, long hours at work and not enough sleep all took their toll. I couldn't work out, I could feel the start of a cold batter my immune system and really, all I fancied doing on Sunday morning was sleeping. More than once I contemplated crying off and staying in bed. But, hey, I had paid for a place, I'm a sucker for a new medal, and it would be worth it in the end.
Starting and finishing at Kingston's Hawker Centre, the circular route took us through residential streets and then down along the banks of the Thames - covering part of the muddy route I tackled on Run Richmond Riverside in October - and then looping back on to the street and back to the start. I enjoyed the variety of the route, however, it was hard work moving from smooth asphalt to uneven slabs, to muddy paths, and watching out for trip hazards the whole time. In addition, there was the challenge of running on streets that weren't closed to traffic or other pedestrians. The marshals did a great job of charming drivers in to not running us over, but it did all feel a bit precarious, and more like a group run than a race.
From the outset I knew that this was going to be a fast run. Not particularly because the terrain and set up were geared towards speed, they really weren't, but more because the other participants were geared towards speed! Before setting off the organisers asked runners to come to the start line according to estimated finish time...when the majority of runners are gearing up for under 60 minutes you know things are going to move quickly.
I paced myself at 6 minutes/km and kept more or less steady throughout, but even at this pretty respectable pace (at least for a relative newbie) I was right at the back of the pack. This pace was a challenge, and at points, all that kept me moving was the idea that I didn't want to be last...great motivation to help me reach my goal of running the whole thing - no intervals here!!
Kingston 10k was a race that really pushed me - running fast on challenging terrain with lots of hazards made the run more challenging than I expected and probably more rewarding. If I had entered another race I might not have pushed myself so much to keep going and to keep up. This was one of those runs that makes you a better runner.
I have to admit, I would be reluctant to run a race organised by Energized Sports again. While I enjoyed the run, the chirpy marshals and the fact that there were real toilets in the Hawker Centre, I didn't feel like I got value for money, particularly in comparison to my last race experience, which felt was a lot more polished for the same price. For example, at Richmond Riverside, bags were stored safely in a van, while at Kingston they were in open air pens and the quality of the medals just wasn't as high.
gun time - 1:01:14
chip time - 1:00:48
Almost 5 minutes off my time in just six weeks...that blows my mind...just shows what can be done!
As always, many thanks to DT for being my personal photographer, holding my jumper and standing in a muddy field for an hour while I ran around - you have no idea how much I appreciate the support!