Sunday was the 34th Annual Forest City Road Races here in London. Every year I try to participate in because 100% of the proceeds of the races go to the Thames Valley Children’s Centre. This race was going to be used as a race for a possible “PB” and a test of my fitness from all winters’ indoor training. All that went out the window a few weeks ago when I had a huge downward spiral in training, mood and general feeling of well-being went out the window. With a week out from the 10K I was feeling mentally ready to lay it all out there and see what would happen but my body was not having any of it. Leading up to race day the weeks brought with it huge bouts of fatigue, upset stomach and ultra low energy. I lost track of who many people on a daily basis would say “you look tired”, it is never a good sign when you can drink a cup of coffee and fall asleep instantly…. With all this compounding and my missing valuable training days it was determined that I should do one of two things not race Sunday or just run it as a fun run. Being my competitive self I knew I would be racing no matter how my body was feeling.
Look for a post in the coming weeks where I explain what was discovered in some blood work, which explains my lack of energy and some other things.
Looking at the weather as I ate breakfast the promise of sunshine was in the forecast. Despite this I added an extra compression base layer under my t-shirt knowing I would rather be on the warm side than be cold as it was only 3 degrees out and overcast. I dusted off my race flats and removed the “speed laces” from my favorite shoes the #NewBalance RC 1600 v2’s which are my go to when racing 5-10K distances. These are very similar to the New Balance 1400’s (my training shoes) but are lighter still at 5 oz with a very low heel drop. Arriving an hour before race start I gathered with fellow members of Balance Point Triathlon and we huddled in a circle talking about anticipated times, PB’s and the temperature. Some people from our group who were running the half marathon and were already out on the course and others that raced the 5K were just coming in with big chilly smiles and medals hanging around their necks. The 10K group started to warm up with 45 minutes to go but I waited for the 30 minute mark at which point I handed my bag to my wife, gave her a kiss and set off on my warm-up.
The energy in the park is electric as anyone who has been at a large community race like this knows. The buzz in the air is so positive it really pumps you up and the up beat music blasting will do it for sure! After some laps of Victoria Park, waving at fellow athletes and runners in the community I returned back to the huddle and handed off my jacket it was show time. I made my way down the line and took the usual position in the second row from the front knowing that the run was going the be like all runs lightning fast off the line. As we stood there counting down the minutes to the gun we were all informed that there was an issue with the timing chips, the ink used to print the bibs that the chips are attached to apparently had some kind of metallic ink in them and this was causing interference with the actual chips themselves. This has not happened in the past so I peeled mine off the tucked it into my pants so it would record a proper time. With one minute to go the all to familiar silence fell over the start line, I was feeling good at this point and knew I would give it my all but didn’t have hopes of a PB.
The results speak for themselves a cool day made for optimum racing conditions and on a course not known for its fast times I did manage to break round out the top 7 with a time of 39:45 on the Garmin.
*OFFICIAL RESULTS YET TO BE POSTED*
The course is slightly down hill from the start and t’s not until around 3k when it flattens out and then drops down again at the 5 k mark. The last 4 k through Gibbons park and back to the finish is exactly opposite with an incline most of the way, no hills just a steady grade. I ran the first 3k at the front with the lead pack as you can see it was moving nicely, things started to slow down on the flats after myself and one other runner settled into our paces. As I rounded the 4k-point I was feeling surprisingly better than expected and of course seeing a familiar face (Mike Cooke) cheering you on keeps the motivation going as I ran in 3rd place. Around 5k a runner from the second lead pack caught up to me and was clearly on pace for a great run and I stuck to my guns fighting the urge to push too much into the red zone. Over the entire course I had to keep telling myself “this is not a 5k, not a sprint!” Being 3 years since my last 10K race I had remind myself the two distances require completely different strategies. Once through the university and just before entering Gibbons Park there it was that all to familiar feeling from the previous weeks as my legs slow down… Trying to push the negative thoughts for my mind I kept plundering on knowing I was in a good place to at least be in the top 5-10. My fellow runner and pacing buddy i had been running with since the beginning had pulled almost 800m on me now and I was alone as usual, running solo. This was ok and I am used to pacing myself but as I exited the park returning to the city streets I was in a world of fog, literally my eyes were not focusing. For a moment I almost stopped to walk but instead took very deep breaths as I tried to lower my heart rate. Keep in mind I averaged 163bpm (my Zone 5 most of the time). Looking down at my watch I could see there was only 2k left and I had fallen way off my pace so now the goal was to finish “remember Spencer this is a fun run” is what I kept telling myself. The natural competitor in me hates this but what can you do. Being passed by friend and fellow athlete Abe with 1k to go he was looking strong and on a good pace as we exchanged words of encouragement. He went by like I Ferrari in the fast lane and despite all efforts like the last runner he pulled away from me. Crossing the finish line I was glad it was done another in the books and happy I finished. Looking at the data afterwards my HR was fairly solid but both at 1.5k and in the last 800m I managed to spike 191bpm and this is unusual to say the least. If it had only been one jump I would have chalked it up to a fluke but it happened twice and the data is not jumpy its a rise and fall. This in a way is good because despite the very high heart rate I didn’t feel any tightness or “pulling” in my chest. This is hopefully a glimpse into what may come over the next few weeks as I start a course of medication; I am hoping I will be able to use more of my heart range.
After receiving my participation medal and shaking hands with my fellow competitors I went into the food tent and started to eat everything in sight, bananas granola bars and bagels. Just a thought to the organizers how about NOT giving what I believe was jalapeño / cheddar bagels. I know I was not the only one who saw the cheesy bagels and thought yes! It wasn’t until after biting into it and realizing it was spicy that I tossed it out. Just not a good idea to eat when you are already thirsty and have dry mouth!
Meeting up with the wife and my in laws I covered up with my jacket and gloves because my hands and arms were numb. Making our way over to the finish line the BPT crew cheered own everyone else who was finishing the race. Thanks to everyone at #fcrr (Volunteers, staff and supporters), New Balance London, London Police Services and all the spectators for cheering everyone on this past weekend!
Check out the race data in more detail here on #STRAVA.