On Sunday 17th November 2019 I took part in the Fulham 10k with adidas #cityrunsLDN. This is the first time I have ran any of the city runs series, as all the events have always clashed with other races. When I found out the date for Fulham 10k did not clash I immediately wanted to do it, and it turned into a #runhappyteam meet up. The Fulham 10k closes a huge year of running and pacing, having paced New York two weeks ago. I was offered a place to pace 45 minutes, so was happy to lead the 45 minute #funbus. This is the 20th event I have paced this year, and the 83rd time I have been an official pacer.
As always I got my kit ready the day before, to make sure I had everything. We were given an official top to run with, which had our race number on. I wore my #letsdothis tee to the race, and originally got my place with them. As an official pacer I was given a different top to wear at the start.
I arrived at 07:45 as I was told to meet by this time. It was a cold and early start, and when I arrived it was very quiet, the bonus being there was no queues for the toilet. The event village was on grass, so although there was lots of space, it was a little muddy.
There were lots of good meet ups, with lots of friendly faces. It was great to see my Brooks #runhappyteam as always. I then went to meet up with all the Pacers before we were allocated start zones. As the 45 minute pacer I was positioned in the middle of wave A. When I got there I had a large group form around me, so when I got everyones attention I started the first, and most important job of a pacer. I gave everyone a brief of how I would be pacing, trying to settle some nerves and build confidence. I always like to have a laugh and joke at the beginning, and get everyone smiling.
It is always good to have a big engaged group of runners at the start. It wasn’t long until we got moving and we were off. The target pace for a 45 minute 10k is a 4:30 min / km, or a 7:14 min / mile. I set off around 7:15 pace to ease us into it. The first km was wildly out and said we didn’t get to it until 5:10, which I knew was wrong. I thought this might just be because we were running around Chelsea FC. I made sure I told everyone that we were on pace, and I hit mile 1 on my watch in 7:16. I increased the pace slightly to be around a 7:10 pace, as this is usually what is needed. With a flat fast course, with wide roads on the whole I was confident with my pace. I didn’t see 2km marker, but 3km was bang on time. I came in 7 seconds ahead of schedule.
We ran strong and at 5km it was the timing mat, so the first marker that could be relied on, we came through at 22:28, that’s 2 seconds ahead of target and perfect pacing. There was water in cups here, but I didn’t get any as I couldn’t get across to it. The group around me did amazing, and I spent the next 5km just encouraging everyone to keep going. I decided to pick up the pace slightly, and so ran a slight negative split. I wanted to come in around 44:45, so increased a couple of seconds per km. Half the markers were missing, and the ones I did hit were not good. I passed 6km in 26 mins. The difference between 5km and 6km being 3:30, or a 33 min pace (the course record is 32 mins something). I knew this was out but had confidence we were ahead because I ran faster than desired pace and we were ahead at half way.
It became a bit tight in some places where the road narrowed, but this did not impact the overall pace. At 8km we passed in 35:38, so 22 seconds ahead of target. I didn’t think we were that far ahead, but knew we were on target. I didn’t see 9km, and followed the long road to the finish. At the this point I told everyone around me to pick up the pace. My job is done for most at this time and it is the moment you start giving all you have left. Here I watched most of my group disappear ahead of me. Such a great group.
Towards the finish I got nervous as I thought we should be seeing the finish line, but it wasn’t there. I could have ran faster, but didn’t want to run too fast, and instead stuck with the pace. I had been ahead at all the markers and was running faster than desired pace. But when I did see the finish I knew I wasn’t going to make it on time.
I finished in an official time of 45:15. My watch recorded 200 metres long. I am frustrated with the course markings, as if they were more accurate I would have adjusted accordingly. When the markers are saying you are ahead of schedule, and watch saying your are running perfectly, then there is nothing you can do. I could have ran faster, but then finished much quicker. Even an accurate or late marker towards the end would have been enough to pick up the pace at the finish.
Although I was / am very disappointed with the course, because it means so much to me to get the pace right, I am happy that my job is done. At the finish I had dozens of people come up to thank me, all of whom got under 45 minutes, and all thanked me for my motivation and pacing. This is what matters to me, that I could help people hit their time. I’m just gutted for those behind me who should have got under too. The course was great, and the support and atmosphere was spot on, a really enjoyable event, so not all bad.
Of course I am gutted that my last pacing of the year finished this way. What frustrates me most is there was nothing I could do. The only way I could alter this would have been to intentionally run 30 seconds too fast, and get luck at the end. I have ran lots of courses that are long on my watch, some a couple of miles long, but I adjust to markers, these were some of the worst I’ve seen in a long time.
Overall I enjoyed the event, and I would do it again. I think the series is great and good to see people getting their gold medal for doing the whole series.
What’s next for you? For me, I don’t know, maybe something local around London, nothing booked now until the new year.