Mr Smith goes for a run, this time around a world heritage site, not something that you can do very often, how did the run go? …

Sunday 6th September arrived and it was time for the Kew Gardens 10k, part of the Richmond Running Festival.  I was up at 5:45 to get in some breakfast at the hotel I was in.  Porridge in the room with some dried fruit and a banana, always a good pre race meal.  The race was due to start at 8:30, hence the need for food early in the morning

I pulled back the curtains to find glorious sunshine, perfect.  There was one problem though, I had left my shorts at home!  Oops.  This gave a dilemma, run in the compression shorts, try and find somewhere that might be open to buy some (not much chance at that time on a Sunday), or run with my tracksuit bottoms on.  Luckily the ones I had with me were the best pair I could have had to run in.  So, it was off I went on a 3 mile walk/run to the start, during which time I would work out what to do.

The walk, although on the North Circular, was good as not much around and getting in to Kew I could feel the atmosphere building.  It was a cool morning in the shade, but in the sun it was fine.

Standing outside the main glass house at Kew and preparing for the race is one of the best places I have prepared.  Lovely and peaceful as no public or vehicles, and obviously stunning.

Bags dropped off, last loo visit and we were ready for the start.  Decision made, tracksuit bottoms remained on.  I would not have felt comfy running in just compression shorts and did not want to inflict that on others!

My learning from previous events is to get as close to the front as possible and as I was in wave 1 I was able to do that, being about 6 rows of people back.  I may not be the quickest, but if you go further back you get held up by runners that over estimate how quick they are.  Also, I am good at running in a straight line and also being aware of other runners, so will not hold up a quicker runner.

After a few announcements, we found out the Chris Tomlinson (Olympian and 2:10 marathon runner) was at the front and also Steph Twell who had just got back from the World Championships in Beijing.  I said to the guy next to me that they would be the winners!  

So it was time, 8:30 arrived and we were off!  The first 2 or so miles was within Kew Gardens and it is lovely.  Running round there I was taking in the sights as much as possible and the only sounds you could hear were the runners.  I have got to say there are a lot of heavy breathers that took part with some sounding completely out of breath early on.  I try and remain in control of my breathing.

We were on tarmac paths to start and I went through the first km in 4:39, which was a bit quicker than I wanted but it felt fine.  The next km was the same time and I was having to start about easing back as I did not want to run out of gas.  I did however know that this was going to be the fastest part of the race for me as it would not be long before we would be on the Thames Towpath and then grass, both of which would be slower surfaces for me, bearing in mind I still have to be very careful with the ankle.

We exited the gardens and headed off down the towpath.  I was doing all I could to get the flattest possible surface all the time, which was easier at this point as the field had spread out.  We continued down the towpath with a very calm thames on our side, then it was a turn back on ourselves in to Old Deer Park for the final part of the run.  This was on grass and as soon as I went on to it I could feel that it would not be a quick end to the race for me.

I was still on for a very good time and still consciously trying to ease off a bit, but I was keeping going.  

With about 3 or so km to go, before we hit the grass, I was joined at my side by another runner.  I soon worked out that he was using me to pace him, which was fine.  I was just keeping going at my pace.  

So after a short period on the grass we started to loop back on ourselves, but we were near some crowds and getting some support.  Getting my name put on my shirt this week worked a treat, a couple of people yelling ‘come on Chris’ really helps and gives a boost!

I would normally try and pick up the pace towards the end, but on the grass I just did not have it in me so just kept it going.  The guy I was running with moved in front a bit, but that helped pull me along.  As we got closer to the finish line the crowds were cheering and I had a nice bit of space round me to take the line on my own and to stop the watch.  46:33!  I could not quite believe it as that was a lot quicker than my previous best.  Anyway, more about that soon.

As I crossed the line the guy that I was pacing stopped and thanked me and shook my hand, which I thought was very good of him.  He said that it helped a lot to get him through and hoped that him moving ahead of me helped, which it did.  It would have been so easy for him to just go through the finish and move on, but it was a nice touch.

So that was it.  Time to re-fuel and get warm.  

It was a very good run and I also met up with my boss after she finished for a chat and catch up, and then started on the walk back to the hotel and what will be a very much needed massage!

So the time, the 46:33 would have been a massive PB, by about 2:20!  However, according to my GPS and that of a few others, it looks like the course was about 300m short.  Oh well, but with a bit of adjustment the time would have been about 47:50 at the most.  This is based on the fact that the time was 6 seconds per km quicker than my previous best, therefore about a minute quicker.  I will take that 🙂  I will await the official time, but the watch would be about right, hopefully.

Next up Copenhagen half in a weeks time!

Will I be back for Kew again?  Yes if I can fit it in my schedule, lovely run

Official results in.  I was right about the winners, Chris Tomlinson in 28:57 and Steph Twell  33:38, me, officially, 46:31 which was 160th overall (out of 1574) and 17th in my category (from 58), amazed is about the word for it!

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