With the word “meeting” probably brings to mind visions of the office. For last Saturday, the word had two very different meanings. I was able to both meet a friend I have been hoping to see for some time, and meeting a big (short term) goal I set recently.
When I opened my fridge door on Friday morning, I noticed the race bib I had stuck onto it and suddenly realised that the 5K I signed up for was the next day. Oeps! Just in time however, and a 5K is not a distance that is particularly intimidating right now. I am slowly working back up to a half marathon, and I signed up for the 5K because it was free, in my neighbourhood, and most of all I love races.
While I signed up with the idea in mind of just running for the fun of it, I have secretly wanted to improve my running time. A year ago I ran a 10k for the first time with minimal training in an hour and 15 minutes or so, which was really disappointing. In the past I’d run 10k in about an hour at most. This meant that my previous 5K time was hovering around 30minutes. In more recent times I was lucky to finish a 5k training run in 40 minutes, which is again disappointing. I’ve been training a bit more regularly in the past few weeks, and have started to feel my weight training pay off in my regular runs. I was hopeful I would make decent time, but the best I could dare to wish for as a 35 min finish.
The race was held at Hackney Marshes, with I suspect the same start and finish as the half marathon scheduled for the next day. The course covered most of the park, and the path was well marked by organisers. I lined up at the start a bit late, and one small downside of starting a bit further down the pack was the difficulty in passing slower runners on a relatively narrow path. Fast runners or faster than average runners are recommended to try to line up early to get a head start. The course opens up and provides an opportunity to run past some people in the middle of the race, when you are just running on the open field. It goes back again to the narrower trails around Hackney Marshes for the final stretch. Particularly for a free event it was very well organised, likely benefiting from the fact it is part of a bigger race weekend instead of a stand-alone 5k race.
I met my goal and finished just seconds past the 30 minute mark. Given how relatively short I have been training again I was really happy with the result.
One thing to keep an eye out for is the fact that this is a park run. The course is mostly on trails, but also covers some stretches of grass. Surfaces can be uneven at times.
After the race it was time for some more running of a different kind: this time running to meet a friend I haven’t seen in far too long! I met Natasja, who also blogs at watzijzegt.com, through work a number of years ago and we have been trying to meet up for some time now. She lives in Holland (and blogs mostly in Dutch) but despite not being so far away it has proven difficult to find a time when we are in the same city at the same time. She travels probably as much as I do (and blogs about it!), so it is actually more difficult than it seems to meet, but this time it worked out, and I even made it into her blog post about London!
Thanks to Natasja’s visit to London I discovered an area of London I had never been to before either: St Katharine docks, right beside Tower Bridge. If I may say so, running a race and meeting up with a friend from out of town was a pretty awesome way of spending a Saturday in London.