Sunday 4 February 2018

Race report: Regents Park 10K

First race of 2018; woohoo!

Mornington Chasers run a 10K race series through the winter season and I wanted an early race for this year to kick things off, see where I'm at with my speed work and just have a bit of fun really. At £19 for non-affiliated runners (£17 for affiliated) - chip timed and free bag drop - the February one seemed like a bit of a no-brainer really. Regents Park is so close to where I work and I know the park pretty well so it was easy to get to from where I live and a familiar set of paths and scenery.

Registration and facilities (free toilets, and changing and showers for a fee at the Hub Sports Centre) opened at 8am for a 9am race start, so I had to get up at 6am to get a good coffee in, let that work its magic (*poop*), feed the cats, make a travel mug of tea to drink on the tube and head out. And I nearly didn't get out of bed!

It was *freezing* and I was snuggled up warm in my duvet, really not wanting to get up. But as I checked out how my coach did last night at Rocky Racoon (100 mile trail race in Texas), I saw he'd smashed it and come 3rd. That was the little bit I needed to tip the balance in favour of getting up and out.

Regents Park is quite pretty. I mean, it's a park and quite a big one so it's got a bit of head start on pretty, but there are lots of landmarks (see above), trees, sculptures and the zoo.

The race route was 3 laps of 3.33km each and it's virtually flat - very tiny incline and very tiny decline. My 10K PB was set in 2011, and my most recent quick 10K in 2014 at 52:38 and I was struggling with setting a sensible goal for today. I got a grip in the end and talked myself down from "PB or you may as well not have bothered". Having been building up my speed recently, I took a marker session from 2 weeks ago where I had to run < 9mins/mile for 40 mins after a warm up, and I'd held 08:40/mile for the 40 mins. So what I wanted to do today was to hold 08:40/mile for the whole race, which at that pace would be just under 54 mins. There were pacers for 40, 45, 50, 55 and 60 mins so I wanted to be between the 50 and 55 min pacers and not let the 55 min pacer overtake me.

Knowing my brain, I set my watch to just record and not pipe up every mile with my mile pace. That meant that if I was off pace I wouldn't just throw in the towel and ease off to jog it in. I really am not good at making the best of a pace that's less than my target, so if I remove that information I'm more likely to just keep the effort up. And that worked really well! I ended up in a small group of ladies who were approximately the same speed and just tried to hold on to them as we leap-frogged a few times.

I got a bit grumpy at one point when a "helpful" coach from the running club at around the half way mark let us know that we were on for 54-55 mins finish. NOT HELPFUL! I lost heart momentarily and then spent the next few minutes persuading myself that he was probably a bit out and not very good at maths.

I picked it up at the 2km to go point and hoped I'd not over-cooked it. Having gone a bit too early at the Chase The Sun 10K on Wimbledon Common in the late summer last year, I was a teensy bit worried I'd just fade in the last 800m or so, but I was OK! One of the other ladies had a sprint finish in her and she stormed past the rest of us, which was lovely to see :o)

Over the line for me and BOOM!

Thank you very much; I'll take that! 53:25 (race results official time 53:21, so even better! Though it's currently incorrectly showing me as FV35 category rather than FV45.) And the first time I've seen a VO2 Max of 50 :o) 54s off my PB, but so much has changed since then!

08:35/mile average for 6.1 miles (though Garmin and Strava say it was 6.24 miles and 08:34/mile). Very happy with that! And finishing right at The Hub cafe meant tea and some eggs were immediately available for brekkie. Perfect! (The Hub is also a sports facility with free toilets and changing rooms/showers for a fee.)

So glad I got out of bed! Thank you Mornington Chasers! This is a lovely, small and low key race. 330ish runners and a good distance to spread out over so no congestion on the course. I'll likely be back for some more :o)

Little bit of post-race stats analysis:

  • Cadence was nice and high, but started a bit too high and dropped off over the 10K (pink line in the middle)
  • Heart rate was a bit wrong for much of the race; optical monitors don't do well in the cold, especially if you're carrying some insulation. (red line at the bottom)
  • Pace (graded average, taking into consideration the elevation changes) actually increased across the 10K. (So either my warm up wasn't long/good enough, or I actually undercooked the pace from the start by a few s/mile.) (purple line at the top)

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