City Fit Girls Across the Pond: A Proper English 10k Recap

By Emily Bilodeau

As I began to develop my training plan for 2016, a thought popped into my head- how cool would it be to run a race on vacation? After a bit of research, I was delighted to find that, not only was there a race on January 2nd (right in the middle of my trip), it was a 10K- a distance I had never attempted to race before.

The Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park 10K Series is a race that’s part of a much larger network of races in and around the city of London, England. London has quite the active running community and hosts several races per month through the Race Organizer, with the QEOP 10K races being held on the first Saturday of every month.

Now, I was pretty aware that there was no chance of coming close to PR’ing this race- I had been traveling nonstop for four days, spent the previous day traipsing around Paris and had just celebrated New Year’s Eve. As race day drew closer, I was pretty sure that my goal time of under an hour was becoming less and less realistic, but I knew I had to at least give it a shot.

The morning of the race, I tiptoed out of our rented flat, armed with my Oyster Card, phone, armband and Gu (which they totally have in the UK, who knew?) and hopped on the Tube out to the Olympic Park. The Olympic Park itself is a massive sporting complex that was constructed for the 2012 London Olympics and features an observation tower that is the tallest piece of public art in Great Britain.

The QEOP race featured an organized warm-up session for all runners just before lining up for the start of the race, which I thought was a brilliant idea. The MC for the race was quite pleased to announce at this time that, “...to the young lady from Philadelphia, this is a reminder that we run on the other side of the road here.”

I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. Having never run a race with multiple laps around the same course. I discovered that having to cross the finish line twice before actually finishing is somewhat demotivating, and that the second lap is almost worse than the third, knowing that you’re already exhausted and still have 2K left to run.

I did my best to power through the rain and the muddy, pebbly track, ending up with a finishing time of 1:02:48, just under three minutes from my goal. I was proud of myself for even showing up, let alone finishing, and my time just motivates me to try harder to crush my next race!

This 10K taught me that no race will ever be perfect, but it may be the perfect motivation to keep improving and setting new goals.