I woke up on the morning of the Fred Hughes 10 with zero expectations. There were too many variables that made me uncomfortable. I was trying out a new (to me) pair of super shoes at a longer distance. The course was hilly; I’ve never raced a hilly course longer than 5 miles. And the day before, while running from Stanmore to Willesden Green on the Jubilee Line (@the_bea_line - shameless plug), I managed to twist my knee in a funny way while looking over my shoulder to cross a road. Plus, it was my first long race as a QPH runner, having only joined in October. For these reasons, I decided that I didn’t have a goal time, and I’d just see how I felt once I got going.
So I did my morning routine of eating porridge, drinking a Tesco-brand Berocca and packing a bag with anything I could possibly need for a day of running. Although this isn’t completely true because Jen had to supply the much needed Jaffa Cakes post race. I made my way to Willesden Green, got in the car with Auntie Sophie, and drove to the venue, sightseeing as we went. Did you know there’s a church around there that was built over 1,000 years ago? Crazy.
The room was buzzing with runners, all chatting, waving and smiling. It was nice to have so many Hoops there, and I was surprised we all managed to fit in the group photo!
Anyway, we got into the sports hall, collected our numbers, filled out the emergency information on the back (safety first) and joined the sea of red and white stripes. The room was buzzing with runners, all chatting, waving and smiling. It was nice to have so many Hoops there, and I was surprised we all managed to fit in the group photo! Before long, we were weaving our way out of the hall and jogging along the road to the start line. However, by the time we got there, I felt sluggish. Yet another reason why I had zero expectations.
When I crossed the start line, I was reciting my usual monologue consisting of “It’s only ___ miles. That’s fine,” followed by various concerns, an attempt at getting my breathing to chill out, and observations about the people around me - along the lines of, “I like her shoes,” and the very occasional, “Why are his elbows up there?” Now I realize this is rich coming from me, see Exhibit A for textbook over-striding. I’m working on it!
In this race, I was uncomfortable for the first 2 miles; I couldn’t find my rhythm, but I just kept moving. Eventually, at 2.5 miles in, I found my breath and my pace. I was surprised because this comfortable pace that I’d settled into was much faster than I’d thought I could maintain for the remaining 7.5 miles.
But I trusted myself and kept moving along with some pep in my step, barely noticing the hills until mile 6 when one just kept going on and on. However, no matter how bad the uphills were, you were always rewarded with a downhill segment that helped you recover just a bit. The course itself was such fun, winding along on country roads and running over the motorway; I couldn’t recommend this race more highly.
Now for the important stuff: weather, water and winning.
Now for the important stuff: weather, water and winning. It was grey, mild and just a tad windy when caught out in an exposed spot. There were 3(?) water stations, and I declined all
marshals’ efforts to hand me a cup of water because I don’t trust cups, and I was worried it would ruin my comfort state. And although I didn’t set the course record, I did get a massive PB, which was a win in itself.
So, same time next year?