Today, I ran Hyde ParkSunday 16th October: the Nike 10km Run London event.
Estimated participants (across 3 simultaneous events in Hyde Park, Battersea Park and Victoria Park): 35,000
Hypatia Avenue, t-shirt number 22648, wave 3, 11.30am start, Hyde Park - Nine weeks training completed
Estimated time to complete: 1 hour 30 minutes at worst / 1 hour 20 minutes at best
Weather: crisp, bright, sunny and warm with a refreshing breeze blowing over the Serpentine
Total time to complete: 01:06:37:85
Sprint finish for the final 50 metres to The Killers' Somebody Told Me
- this last burst of speed induced by the line "somebody told me you had a boyfriend who looked like a girlfriend I had in February"
Paula Radcliffe ran with Wave 1 at 9.30am and finished the 10km in 32 minutes - and after Sebastian Coe finished his 10km in Wave 1, he then cycled over to Victoria Park to join Wave 3 over there for a further 10km.
A jazz trio in tuxedoes played at two different points in the run and the marshals who were posted at every half kilometre gave out endless shouts of encouragement, applause and held their hands out for high-fives as we went by.
Two men ran with their toddlers in all-terrain pushchairs; there was one person in a gorilla outfit with the regulation red t-shirt pulled over the fake fur.
Red signs printed with variations of the " I will run London" slogan were dotted throughout the 10km route - the most memorable were "I will not think of the pee word", "I will really enjoy that pint tonight", "I will nod like Paula" and the most significant "I will dig deep" at 7.5km which caught my eye just as I needed to see it.
We had to all do a cheesy warm-up before being allowed into the starting area which was cringe-inducing but extremely helpful.
I paced myself carefully over the first 3.5km then sped up slightly to cover the 4th and 5th kilometres quicker, kept a steady pace for the 6th and 7th, had to push myself mentally from the 7th kilometre into the 8th...
Then once I turned the corner after the 9th kilometre marker, the right song came on and I started to speed up... as soon as the finish line was firmly within my sight, I pulled every last breath, every last spark of energy and every tiny drop of imagination I had left in me and ran as fast as I could to the finish line.
I could barely look at the time on the counters above the finish line but stole a glance at the last minute and flew the last metres, feeling as if I had left the ground and nothing else mattered - I just had to get past the line before the counter started showing 1 hour and 10 minutes plus. And I did it. I did it: 1 hour 8 minutes - even less when my official time was texted to me later. Fucking fantastic.
I wasn't quite sure what to do with myself once home. After re-hydrating with roughly 1 pint of cafe latte with caramel syrup and refuelling with a poached egg on toast, I found myself restlessly pacing my flat. So I put on flip-flops and walked the route I've been running in preparation for this day, the route that takes me across and back over the Thames, past the Tate Britain, a fish and chip shop and the MI6 building. Those roads, those paths have never felt more pleasant to walk than they did today.
I ran Hyde Park today. I will run more.