My favourite weekends are spent with no make-up on and wearing sports bras instead of regular ones. This weekend, I barely changed bras let alone put on makeup.
Before you worry about my sanitation habits, don’t worry it was because I was lucky enough to spend Saturday & Sunday running with some of my best friends in very cool places.
On Friday night I grabbed some popcorn and headed over to the Ham Yard Hotel where the lovely Lorna from Lionsgate put on a special showing of McFarlane, USA for us. The Disney movie about an American high school cross country team was everything you want from the typical Disney + sport + Kevin Costner formula.
Then on Saturday I went across London to the 12 hour London Enduro at Wimbledon Common. After hearing great reviews from last year, and loving the Thunder Run, Rhianon and I wanted to get a team together for this local 12 hour race. We went through a subs on our team due to work international commitments and limited lung capacity, but ended up with Myself, Rhianon, Cat, and Hannah as a team to run continuously for 12 hours around the 10k trail loop on Wimbledon Common.
We arrived in the late afternoon sun to set up our tent and sit in the sun. Watching the 10k & Half Marathon runners finish their laps while getting our carbs down was the perfect way to spend a Saturday.
After a quick briefing, we were off at 7pm. We settled in to our order and were all running just under 1 hour laps on the pretty technical course.
As I was running fourth I didn’t get to do my first lap until it got dark. At first it felt amazing, flying through the trails in the dark is as close as I’ll ever get to flying. I didn’t see one person for the first 3 miles and absolutely loved it. Then the navigation got a bit trickier as there were fewer signs, I found myself concentrating more on the signs than enjoying the run for a bit, and then saw a small sign in the corner of the grass pointing to a sharp left turn.
My know it all internal dialogue said, “That’s a small sign for such an important turn, I bet most people are going to miss that one!” and allowed me to keep running over a meadow that looked familiar but didn’t register until.. I saw the 4k marker again. UGH. I had obviously taken a wrong turn and ended up back on the 4k – 7k loop of the course. With it even more dark now I didn’t have the confidence to retrace my steps so around the loop again it was. Keeping my eyes wide open this time I saw the sign for the correct turn I missed right before my sneaky wrong turn and continued on the planned route to the finish. As my watched beeped over to 7 miles I was still deep in the forest and wondered if I was due to spend all night with the Wombles.
I made it out and found Cat at the changeover point enjoying the extra time by carbing up in the food tent. Not fussed at all she set off with a few pretzels in her hand.
That was the theme for our night. Whether we were sitting outside the tent in our sleeping bags chatting about summer plans, or catching up at the changeover point (Watch out for badgers at 5k), it was a really fun event. I caught a few minutes of sleep after 4am and woke up to the sun rise and the smell of bacon. As if the event wasn’t well organised enough, there were bacon rolls out for all the runners after 6am. Hannah finished her third lap just after 6, but instead of going out for one more, I chose to stay and watch the last hour of the race with my team and cheer on the solo runners coming in from their 12 hour adventures. We popped our celebratory bottle of prosecco and drank modified mimosas (grapefruit alibi health drink was all that was available!) with our cups of tea and collected our medals from the amazing event organisers.
After packing up the tent and taping up a few blisters I began the epic trek across London to St. Pauls for the City of London Mile race. Meeting up with Alex and a bunch of other friends we all waited for the rain showers to pass as we waited for our heats to start. Alex and I were both in the 10:30 start and as we were walking there we heard the gun go off for the 10:20 wave. Jumping a bit at the sound I heard behind me, “Oh god, they don’t shoot the person in last place do they?” as I laughed and turned around it was none other than my favourite witty runner Hannah! A few minutes later we found Charlie and Jen waiting at the start too. As our start gun went off we raced ahead and I willed my legs to move a bit faster than usual. I was very much near the back of the pack through half way and then found a bit of energy to pick it up. I saw some 6’s on my watch and thought that was pretty fast (turns out the typical no-gps-in-the-city-errors turned up today) but kept going and turned it up with 200m to go. Not quite the vomit educing 100% effort a mile should be, but all my body had to give after the night before.
We got a lovely post-mile photo, picked up our medals and headed over to get our bags and head to brunch. The race obviously had a bottleneck around this time as the majority of people were either dropping off or picking up their bags and the baggage area was horrendous. We waited 55 minutes to get our bags which were piled 5 deep in the small tent, some directly in puddles on the ground. I don’t have time for this kind of organisational laziness and think race organisers should have done more (training for volunteers and identifying risks like this in an operational plan) to avoid this from happening. I ran the race with 3 friends who had never run a race before and all were so annoyed with the baggage situation they said they wouldn’t bother running this race or many others again. Not the kind of legacy the event wants to leave.
It’s a shame that this put a damper on a lovely event and I am sure the organisers will get it better next year, but it just shouldn’t have happened in the first place. On twitter they said the baggage issue was because it was a larger race than last year, but they knew the numbers a week before the race so I’m not sure why they didn’t adjust their services as well.
Other than the crushing tiredness of only sleeping an hour over the weekend, my body feels great and legs are pretty happy. A coach once told me you should try to finish your training runs with a faster last mile, so I think this weekend checked that box.