I am really sick and tired of the winter weather this year. I realise that it is stupid to complain about the weather – it certainly is not going to change anything. But I have never known a winter of training like it. It has just been relentlessly cold and either raining of snowing almost every week. But the London marathon is on 21 April and nothing will change that, so the training needs to continue irrespective of the weather. This weekend I was due to run 35km with 10km steady, 10km just slower than target marathon pace, 10km at target marathon pace, 2km fast and then a 3km cool-down.
I realised I was highly unlikely to nail a session like that on my own around the streets of north London in the snow.
Kingston Breakfast Run to the rescue
I suddenly remembered that today was the Kingston Breakfast Run – a race that I have done a few times in the past and I realised that I could use this race as the basis for the session. So along with my training partner Carl, I set off at 6am this morning for south west London.
We arrived in Kingston and parked an hour before the race was due to start (or so we thought!) heading off out of the town centre for just over 5 miles at a steady pace. I was cold despite wearing three tops – I knew this was going to be a tough morning!
At 8:25am we dropped off tights and tops in the car and jogged to the start area… to find that the race had already started. We thought the race started at 8:35am… but we were wrong by 10 minutes.
Starting from the back
Without hesitation Carl and I crossed the start-line and we were off – three and a half minutes behind the pack. The aim now was to run 7 miles at just slower than marathon pace, followed by seven miles at marathon pace, then the last two miles faster than marathon pace.
The race leaves Kingston town centre pretty quickly and heads on to the Thames towpath. The recent bad weather meant that it was wet under foot – Carl and I were trying to make our way through the back of the pack at 6:15 min/mile while also dodging puddles. But the course is reasonably wide and we managed to hit the pace fairly easily.
The Kingston Breakfast Run offers two opportunities – an 8.2 mile race or a 16 mile race, which equates to one or two laps of the same course. So I reached 7 miles, the point at which I needed to up the pace to marathon pace and within a mile all the ‘one-lappers’ were peeling off to the finish line, which meant there was even more space for Carl and me.
The conditions on the last lap deteriorated a little, especially in the last two miles when we ran into a headwind with horizontal snow stinging my eyes. But the marshalls all remained friendly and encouraging and the helpers and army cadets at the water stations stayed put handing out cups as we went past.
And then suddenly the finish line was a mile away. I was really looking forward to stopping – the 15th and 16th miles were really tough from the point of view of the cold wind and the snow. But I was also chuffed to have completed 16 miles at a good pace.
A really enjoyable race, but…
One slight downside to the race is that apart from the section on the riverside walk, which was very muddy underfoot and covered in puddles, the race is very much on open roads. This means that the runners are constantly being requested to run on the pavements. But with so many runners, this will inevitably lead to congestion. Whilst I realise that starting three minutes behind everyone else meant that I had made it impossible to not have to work my way through the pack, we also lapped quite a few runners in the later stages and this meant that everyone, including the front runners who got away on time, would have had to deal with slower runners on the pavement: like me, I suspect that many of them resorted to running on the road to get a clear path. It would be really wonderful if Human Race, the organisers of the Breakfast Run, could convince the powers that be to close all the roads that the race uses for one morning, so I hope they are asking for that.
All in all, though, I would say that despite arriving late and having to deal with appalling weather, the Kingston Breakfast Run was a great success for me:
• I started last and finished 14th out of 1,176 runners.
• According to my chip-to-chip time was the 8th fastest runner.
• I managed 22.5 miles today and averaged 6:15 min/mile for the 7 mile section of running just slower than marathon pace and 5:58 min/mile for the seven miles at target marathon pace.
That feels like a good workout and hopefully bodes well for London in four weeks, so thanks to Human Race and the good people of Kingston for putting on the race. I can only hope that the London marathon team have orgainsed for the the snow to be gone by the time of their race…