My second race of 2017 for St Clare Hospice was ‘The Winter Run’ on Sunday 5th February, a lovely 10km race around the streets of London. This particular race necessitated a tiny bit of planning, not to mention an early start. With almost military-style timing, I had scheduled for my porridge to be consumed by 7am before I embarked upon a 30-minute cycle ride in order to catch the 8.04am train to Kings Cross. All went according to plan…except that I forgot to pack my deodorant and I was now a sweaty mess!
Nevermind, the flat course awaiting me represented ideal conditions for a PB. I had in fact attempted this same race last year, but with recovery from a calf injury in progress had to hold myself back. Not this time, my training had gone to plan and I had successfully completed a few long runs – including the Benfleet 15 just a few weeks before, which followers of my blogs will already be familiar with! The weather, not too cold and fairly dry, seemed well suited to my running style. I had determined not to carry any water with me as I knew there was a water station along the route. Armed with my trusty Hoka One Ones and my St Clare Hospice vest, I was determined that nothing would stop me from having a good run.
Before the start of the race I met Kirk (better known as @R8v3N amongst Twitter folk) for coffee. Kirk had previously helped me complete the Brighton Marathon in 2016, when I had managed to reach the 20-mile mark but was really struggling so was grateful when he called out my name and joined me for those last 6.2 miles. It’s amazing the people you can meet when you are running and how their encouragement can pull you through those final few strides.
Once the coffee had been consumed we headed over to the starting area of the race, located in Trafalgar Square. The ‘Bag Drop’ area was busy but very efficient and I was able to part company with my bag quickly before following the crowds of people around to the start line. My wave was due to start 10:10am and sure enough, almost to the second, we were off – at least I was, my Garmin watch decided not to pick up any signal for the opening 2km which was very frustrating!
Once the race had begun in earnest, I sensed pretty quickly that the 2017 Winter Run was going to be a good one. My legs felt great and my lungs were actually working, although the earlier watch malfunction meant I was unsure of just how good my final time would be! Determined to keep pushing to the finish, I was weaving effortlessly through the route and passing other runners with ease. I was really enjoying myself, so much so that I didn’t take in any of the sights! No time for admiring St Paul’s Cathedral, nor the Bank of England or the Savoy Hotel. There wasn’t even any frequenting of water stations, who needs water anyway?! It’s fair enough to say that I was firmly in the zone and there was no stopping me…
No stopping me until I saw a dancing penguin near Bank station! This was Jenni (@_jen_mo) from #ukrunchat who had volunteered to wear costume for the occasion. I had never met Jenni but have followed her since forever on twitter and profess to being a huge fan of her blogs. I just had to say hello and claim my sweaty penguin hug, before returning once again to the zone. I was doing really well and looking around could feel everything coming together. This was definitely my day!
As I approached the last 3km I was caught by a close friend whom I knew was running today. I call her ‘Speedy Louise’ as she nearly always tries to kill me (not literally, I hasten to add!) when we are running, being much quicker than me. Louise was due to start around 9.40am, but had met with delays so had ended up starting later than I did. We chatted and ran together for a little while before Speedy headed off again – she was heading for a PB too but there was at least time to wish each other luck before she powered off. I also bumped into Kirk again, exchanging brief pleasantries before my final relentless push towards the finishing tape.
As I crossed the finish line, I knew I had done well. My time of 1:02:47 smashed my previous best by around 2 minutes! I was over the moon, the course had remained true and delivered the PB so faithfully promised upon my arrival. After consulting my Strava, it seems I also managed to surpass my previous best 5km time too! Check me out, Clare the PB Queen! Ha Ha. To top it all off, I didn’t hurt, my body was happy. A few cursory stretches after the race was all that was needed.
Needless to add, the only way to celebrate such a monumental achievement was to enjoy a celebratory lunch with my favourite runner JK (@kennedy107) who had been running the Watford Half. Drinks with Baz (@baztav ) and Kaya (@kythespy) followed, marking a fantastic end to a truly memorable day.
‘The Winter Run’ is always an amazing race, organised by Human Race Events who do such an incredible job. The medal was lovely this year, a little bigger than the 2016 version and very shiny to boot. The snowmen, penguins and huskies along the route added to the carnival atmosphere and really made for a fun event. Anyone who hasn’t completed a Winter Run should definitely add it to their list.
Now for the serious bit. I am completing the 12 races this year to raise money for St Clare Hospice, who took such good care of my Nan before she passed away in April 2015. My family and I can not thank them enough for the care and love they showed to my little nan and the wider family. They help families like mine every day of the year so every penny really does count. My donation page is http://www.virginmoneygiving.com/claregallagher1 if you would like to donate.
Next up: Silverstone Half on 12th March.