The second Sunday in January seemed a good time to take on my first race of the year – on a course I know really quite well. Which isn’t entirely a good thing.
So it was off to Richmond Park. Good things about running in Richmond Park: scenic views, deer-spotting opportunities (if you’re really lucky, you might see Fenton the dog) and a traffic-free run on largely good footpaths.
Less good things about running in Richmond Park: driving to and from the race involves driving on the park ‘ring road’, which is crammed with masses of lycra-clad cyclists, and the run involves hills. Steep hills. Oh dear. Running up hills hurt.
The two-lap course features several short, sharp uphill bits and one long downhill stretch. It could be described as undulating…
This was the fifth time I’ve done a Richmond Park 10k, and that course knowledge isn’t entirely a good thing. In theory, it should help to know when the steep bits are coming, so you can measure out your effort better. In reality, I just tend to overthink things and think too much about when the pain is coming (hint: on the steep bits).
Note to self: stop overthinking things.
Still, one benefit of doing the same course multiple times is that you can chart your progress. Sort of. It’s an inexact science, because conditions vary (hint: January = cold; June = hot) and, on two occasions, work on the park roads led to the course being shortened. That’s good for flattering finish times, less so for progress measurement.
My Richmond Park 10k results:
Dec 2014: 41m 56s (4m 16s km avg pace) – 9.83km course
Jan 2015: 42m 05s (4m 15s km avg pace)
June 2015: 42m 47s (4m 18s km avg pace – it was really hot, honest…)
Dec 2015: 41m 14s (4m 14s km avg pace) – 9.76km course
Jan 2016: 41m 54s (4m 13s km avg pace)
The good news: I’m getting faster. I probably could have gone a bit faster this time, had I prepared a bit more properly (pizza isn’t generally considered great pre-run evening dining…). But it felt very controlled this time, which was my real aim. And I finished 20th overall out of 160-odd runners, which is still pretty bonkers given I literally couldn’t run 10k two years ago…