My marathon training for Chicago was scheduled to start the same week that I was leaving for the trip. Fortunately, it didn't seem like it'd be a problem to work in the training runs. I was proud of myself for getting all but one of them done in addition to the MILES of walking that we did.
Since the training plan had me doing 10-milers for the first long runs, I thought it'd be fun to see if we could find a race to run one weekend. It turned out that we found the Self-Transcendence 10-Miler on the 4th of July. It seemed perfect since it not only got me the mileage I needed, but also because it was on our holiday! Plus, it ended up only costing about $16.
We had to get up super early to catch a train to a station close to Battersea Park where the race was being held. It ended up we got there a bit early, but we'd rather be early than late. We found the race headquarters - two people under a small tent who were passing out race numbers. We had plenty of time to snap some pre-race photos and find the bathrooms before heading to the start line.
There were a little over 100 people running, and we found out that they frequently hold these races. I got the impression that all of these people probably come to all of the races and just race each other all of the time.
The start was simple... the woman in charge said "GO!" I took off and allowed myself to settle into a comfortable 10:00 minute mile pace. I had been coughing a lot and still wasn't feeling well, so I didn't want to overdo it. Plus, my legs felt like led after 2 weeks of walking and traveling!
I quickly figured out that I was at the back of the pack. I'm certainly no speed demon, but I usually find myself somewhere in the middle at most races. It seems like everyone at this race was FAST.
The unfortunate thing about the race was that we had to do 6 laps in the park to get the distance. It was a beautiful park, but it got rather dull to keep seeing the same things after the first lap. I didn't have any other racers around me to chat with, and I hadn't brought an ipod on the trip. Needless to say, I was pretty bored.
I hit mile 5 in about 50 minutes. I was feeling good so I decided to start trying to pick it up a little bit. Over the last 5 miles, I passed 9 people (yes, I counted) and ran a negative split!!! I finished the race in 1:36:36, about 5 minutes faster than the 10-miler I had ran 2 weeks before. (Granted, it was super hot and hilly at that race whereas it was cooler and flatter in London.)
I was pleased that I had improved my time, and I felt confident that I had I been more well-rested then I probably could have run it even faster.
All in all, I'm glad that we ran this race. Would I recommend this specific race? Probably not, as the 6 laps was rather boring. But would I recommend running a race in another country? Definitely. This race was nowhere near as big of a deal as most races I run here at home. No t-shirt. No goody bag. Just some water and a power bar at the finish. But it was still super cool to get to run a race in another country.
Rocking out a "I love USA" button in spirit of the 4th of July
I lined up at the back of the pack, and this is what I saw from there. Like I said, it was a small field.