Wow, a race recap! It’s been a long time since I have written one of these posts, so please bear with me as I try to recall all the information and emotions of the day. I signed up to the Reunion 5K as Alexandra (@lexielovestorun) had signed up. We have been in contact via Instagram for years, but this was going to be an opportunity to meet up IRL.
Also, it felt pretty cool to be participating in research that could help, hopefully, the return of mass participation events. Quite frankly, I think we are all ready for the Parkrun to return and have races to look forward too again.
There were actually two races, for research purposes; one socially distanced (that’s the one I took part in) and one mass start. The event was organised by the London Marathon Events team in conjunction with the Government.
Prior to the Reunion 5K, we had to order and administer a Lateral Flow Test. We had to show our negative result to be able get entrance to the run. In addition to this, we got sent PCR test, one which we had to do the morning of the race. The other one we will have to do on Thursday.
Originally, there were supposed to be three races: 1 x socially distanced and 2 x mass participation. I heard that they wanted 3, 000 participants at each race. The third race was cancelled and I think there was only just over 1,000 participants in each event. I am not really too sure why people didn’t enter? I know that there were other events on at the same time, so maybe that didn’t help?
As with will all London Marathon events, the organisation was excellent and it was a brilliant event. There were lots of happy, helpful marshals. We were allocated car parks and a 15 minute time slot to arrive. Car park 6 was about a 5 minute walk to the event village.
When I arrived at the village, Alexandra was waiting for me. It was so frustrating after waiting so long to meet we couldn’t hug! It was funny as, although we had never met before, it felt like I was just meeting up with an old friend.
Everyone was standing around, socially distanced and I was lucky enough to also see Saba (@sabarunning) at the before the race. The weather was over cast, but not too bad. There were plenty of toilets and a baggage drop, neither that had queues! I could get used to this social distancing!!
I realised as I was getting to the event, I had no idea what terrain the race was on. Would it be on grass? It was a racecourse after all. We got called to our pens just prior to the start and we had to walk over the wet grass. It was all socially distanced and actually much more pleasant than normal races, where we are all packed together like sardines. It was very quiet as we walked to the pens, I tried to make eye contact with a few other runners to have a chat, but most people were looking down. I did manage to catch the eye of one lady and we shared a joke about how socially distancing should be compulsory at all future races too!
I was in pen 3 and as we entered our pen, the first wave was making their way to the start line. The organisers had put pink spots on the floor, 2 metres apart and there were two rows to guide the runners. Then we were set off at intervals using a red/green light system. It was fairly efficient and we didn’t actually have to wait that long.
I have to confess that the start, two at a time, did make me feel like I was at a club session and I was having to race the person next to me! Starting in this way did mean that you could control your own pace much better. There was no need to tag on to someone and get dragged off too fast or get stuck behind another runner.
At about 50 metres I looked at my watch and the pace showed 8:05. Perfect I thought! I really had no idea if I could achieve my goal or not. Monday at training, I felt amazing and thought I could. Then Wednesday and Thursday runs felt hard and I felt like I was running through treacle. I stupidly, didn’t warm up either!
My breathing was hard, but I kept pushing. When I looked at my watch again it read 8:30 pace. I tried to pick up the pace, but it just felt too hard. If I had kept pushing that hard I was worried I would end up walking at the end!!! My first and second mile both clocked as 8:29 pace. We had been running on paths for all of miles 1 and 2, with some plastic coverings on some sections. At mile 2 we had to run on a soft terrain which was fairly tough, but it was only for about 100m. We then headed into a wooded area, which was lovely. I could feel that I was slowing, which was disappointing.
I finally crossed the line in 26:41! Which is 12 seconds from my PB and 42 seconds of my sub 26 minute 5K that I would like. I know I am capable of that and I will keep working as it is not too far away! It would have been nice to get it at this race as it was a lovely course, plenty of space and flat, but it just wasn’t to be!
I wasn’t too disappointed as this is just where I am now, and to be honest running is more than just times. Being back at a race, being around people again, seeing Saba, finally meeting Alexandra and getting that race buzz again made sure that I came away with a very full heart!
Have you run a race recently? How did you find it? Will you be returning to Parkrun at the start of June? Let me know below.