Guest post written by Sarah Crouch (@SarahCrouch90)
Dan and I finally woke up on the morning of the London 10K; something that we had been waiting months for! Dan had been excited about this since the day he signed us up. He had been looking forward to viewing all of London's beautiful scenery, running through the supportive crowds and with people who share the same passion for running that he does.
On the flip-side you have me; nervous as anything. I mentioned at the beginning that we woke up on the morning of the 10K, well Dan did - I was already awake. In hindsight, I can tell you that there was no need to be nervous. Nerves are just silly emotions that warp our perspective, but at the time, my perspective was warping to another dimension.
We left Vauxhall and caught the Victoria line north to change at Green Park. Being kitted in running gear and London 10K shirts on the tube was a strange experience, especially as we saw no one else with the kit on, but we still felt quite positive and excited about what we were doing.
The London Tube is a wonderful thing, you see all kinds of life on there, and the 'half-drunk from the night before' life-forms that we saw only acted to motivate us further. 'We are buzzing and you are feeling rotten', was one of the devious thoughts that ran through my mind. Any thought that allowed me to avoid my nerves was truly welcome at this point.
The closer we got to Piccadilly, the more people we saw with running attire on. We arrived in the red baggage zone, dropped our bags off, made the obligatory stop at the port-a-loos, and then set off on our one mile walk to the start line. The temperature was teetering on 30 degrees and there wasn't a cloud in the sky. The weather was BEAUTIFUL, but incredibly hot for running. At this point, we weren't too phased because our pace was no quicker than a walk and we had some kick-ass scenery to look at.
We advanced up the Mall towards Buckingham Palace with hundreds if not thousands of other runners, everyone smiling, laughing and joking their way to the start. We then hung a right, and became sheltered in the delightful shade of trees in the Royal Parks. In front of us, and soon behind too, were crowds of static runners, warming and psyching themselves up. We were quite well placed as it turned out, next to the Bomber Command Memorial which is just to the right of Wellington Arch. I could hear a variety of accents, could see a multitude of nationalities and felt proud that we were all to complete this feat together with no sense of disharmony whatsoever.
Like Emperor Penguins, we waddled forward.
It took quite a while to get to the starting line (understandable when you consider that there were about twenty thousand runners in total), but when we did make the start it felt like a sprint! Many runners were shooting past us, obviously die-hard competitors that were making up the time they lost when waddling with us mere mortals.
The first two miles were amazing; crowds covered the footpaths and were shouting incredibly motivational messages, we were relatively shaded by the buildings around St. James' Palace and it felt as if I was running faster than I had ever been capable of doing before - as if I had some ultimate power. I had always wanted to be the pink power ranger in my childhood and had imagined the feeling that came with that power. I was feeling it!
However, after two miles the similarities I had with that enchanting childhood reminiscence dissipated at a rapid rate. To carry on with the childhood metaphors, I now felt as active as Homer Simpson.
Having Dan running with me was an incredible help though. I think he was feeling the heat as well and later said that if he hadn't have ran with me, he wouldn't have been able to improve massively on our time. The cute thing is though, even if it had been perfect running conditions he would have still stuck with me to get me through. What a darling!!!
The middle part of the run alternated from walking to running to grabbing tonnes of water and drinking it as if we had been walking for days in a water-less desert. It was so tough! Although we made sure that we ran for the important bits; Trafalgar Square and most of Victoria Embankment.
On the latter, we saw the first racers coming back on themselves and running the opposite way. I had no idea how far in front of us they were, but in hindsight I can tell you that it was a long way ahead. Danny Russell, the winner, completed the 10K in thirty one minutes and nine seconds. I cannot imagine what was going on inside his body... he must be an absolute machine! Well done to him.
On our way back down Victoria Embankment, my emotions were in paradox. I was so hot, I truly felt as if I was both hung-over AND melting at the same time... but contrasting to this, both Dan and I were surrounded by so much beauty, natural and manmade. We were running in between exquisite old trees and next to the glistening river Thames, with a towering Big Ben directly ahead. On our left we could see the London Eye and soon we would be running over Westminster Bridge. No matter how horrendous I felt, I loved every second of this stretch. Dan did too.
I have to mention that he was absolutely fine throughout the race. He didn't hit one wall compared to the ten that I counted. Everyone has a word for their boyfriend/girlfriend who is ace-ing something that you are struggling on - 'll let you use your imagination ;)
Yes it was annoying, but underneath all of that useless and petty negativity (fuelled by the pain felt in every cell of my body), I felt an incredible respect for his ability to be so blasé about the conditions we were running in. It just shows that in the last few months, he has worked so hard to run the miles he does and all for an amazing cause.
A close up of Westminster Bridge, Big Ben and Westminster Abbey followed. We circumnavigated the large roundabout outside with ease, and the pace started picking up. I noticed the bystanders shouting to us again. To my relief, they were saying, 'The finish line is just around the corner!'
We ran side by side towards the finish line, noticing photographers in all directions. It was such a great feeling to cross that line, and even better at the time to drink the free Gatorade that the organisers had provided for us.
We knew the best feeling would be when we picked our medals up, but instead of rushing, we stretched, soaked in the atmosphere and casually strolled back to our designated baggage zone along the Mall. Don't dispute me; this casual stroll was well deserved.
On arrival, we received our medals. This was the best feeling of the day for both of us. Dan had completed his first large scale and London based race, and I had overcome the mental and physical obstacles that Dennis had felt in Run Fatboy Run (minus the broken leg!).
We loved this race and will definitely do this race again next year... maybe you will want to join us?