Yesterday was GLORIOUS morning for a run to work in London. It was a little chilly – at 3ºC (in the high 30sF) but once I got moving I was fine. And look at this sunshine! Beautiful.
I ran my usual 7.7 miles into work @ 8:16 pace. My pace varied pretty wildly during the run. I was running on an empty stomach (but for a cup of coffee, naturally) as I couldn’t face eating when I first got up. This always has a negative impact on my pace (which doesn’t bother me one bit), but today I didn’t feel weak as I sometimes do (which bothers me greatly).
It was great to still have breakfast to look forward to, as I get pretty hungry after I run. Isn’t this – on the side of my cereal box – just the weakest message ever?
“One of the most important meals of the day”?? THERE ARE ONLY THREE! And even then, it’s not actually a fact – just something that is “said to be”.
To summarise: “some people think breakfast is one of the most important of the three meals in a day”.
Fortunately, I was able to scrape myself up off the floor after that revelation, as yesterday was my first time running with London City Runners! I joined their Facebook group (it’s private, as it lets them kick out people who post nonsense, but anyone can request to join) aaaaages ago with the best intentions to go along. I think we’re talking years rather than months ago, and I just never got my arse into gear to actually join them for a run. I very much enjoyed following them on Facebook, but that does not a member of a running club me make.
They have some very, very able runners in their ranks. Think sub 2:30 marathon able. But their midweek club runs are fairly moderate (sub 4 miles), there look to be plenty of more recreational runners, and there seems to be a huge focus on the social aspect, which I think sounds just excellent. A recent social involved them hiring a boat for a party on the Thames. They look to regularly have roast lunches after their Sunday runs (I told you I’m keeping my beady eye on them on Facebook), and given that they meet in a brewery (what’s not to love about that?!) it’s pretty much a requirement that you have a drink after the run.
What’s amazing is that it’s completely free to join and seems to carry none of the intimidating exclusivity of other running clubs. I’m hoping the midweek runs will work well as tempo runs, as I try to keep up with people who are faster than me (and let’s face it, a race to the bar is one I’m game for). The longer runs on Sundays sound great for shaking off a hangover 🙂
A key motivation for me is the support and enthusiasm around races. There were 41 City Runners doing the London Marathon, and the club was out in force to cheer them on. They often go to races as a club, and support their runners seemingly all over the UK and beyond. I could really benefit from some of this enthusiasm in future races – and I’d be happy to go along to
drink beer cheer people on too!
So after work, I headed down to Southwark Brewery where they meet. I decided to walk as I can mostly stick to the river and I had the time. The brewery is just past Tower Bridge that you can see in the very distance.
It actually snowed in London yesterday (bonkers!) so it was a bit on the cold side. I’d worn my only long sleeved top to run in that morning, and I didn’t fancy my first impression on a bunch of strangers to be “shit, what’s that smell?” – so I wore my sleeves with a short sleeved top. I perhaps felt a bit silly in an “all the gear but no idea” sense, but hey ho.
City Runners have four running groups, based on your 10km race pace
Group 1 – 60+ minutes
Group 2 – 55-60 minutes
Group 3 – 45-50 minutes
Group 4 – 40 minutes
They set off in that order, so that everyone arrives back at roughly the same time. I opted to go for the second group, which should have been a little slow for me – but better safe than sorry, eh?
The route was only 3.5 miles (as measured by my watch), so it was very much a dash for me. This is good! Even had it been 5 miles, or 8 miles, it wouldn’t be adding much to my long distance running – but pushing me to run faster than I usually do is a very good thing.
My pace seemed a bit random – I really felt like I was pushing myself, but the average pace came out as 8:07.
Also you can see that mile 2 – which was uninterrupted by steps – was pretty speedy for me, at 7:48 for the mile. A quick look on the Garmin site shows me that my average moving pace was 7:53, which is decent for me at the moment. I am sure I can do better though – maybe next time!
I wasn’t the fastest in our group by any stretch, which makes me wonder why people don’t move themselves into a faster group. At 8:07 pace – which as above, I think is probably slower than I actually ran – my 10km race time would be 50.26 – so faster than the 55-60 mins allocated to group 2, and I would say I was roughly in the middle of the group. In future, I might consider going into group 3 – even though people in group 2 will be faster than me. But surely it’s better for people to run in the right group than to always be fastest in their group, right?
One thing I had underestimated is how much you run alone. Some people did chat during their runs, but after you cross Tower Bridge, the group really disperses and you’re in your own running space. The advantage of this is that I could run in group 3 and it wouldn’t matter if I immediately fell behind. There would be the very real risk that I would arrive back last, but I think you could get away with that without too much embarrassment.
On the social side, there were A LOT of people there – perhaps 70+? There were several new people, presumably inspired by the marathon on Sunday. Tim, who founded and runs the club, walked us all through how it all worked, and everyone was very friendly. In honesty though, it was hard to know who already knew each other though, and whose conversations you could join in on. I did a bit of loitering without really knowing who to talk to. I get the feeling some people either went along together OR had been going for a very long time, so me crashing into their conversation wouldn’t have been ideal. But hey, Rome wasn’t built in a day (“I’m here now; let’s be best friends!” – er…..).
I had the obligatory pint of Southwark London Pale Ale afterwards (very nice!) and chatted to a few people before heading home. I’m hoping to join them for their longer run (about 11km I think) on Sunday as I think that’s a slightly smaller group and it might be a bit less intimidating. Whilst I am keen on the running – especially the interval training on Thursdays! – I am most interested in the social side, and the enthusiasm it could bring should I decide to do another marathon.