There are some moments in life that leave me speechless with their perfection. This morning I had of those moments. I woke up, had a shower and made myself some toast with peanut butter and banana. Afterwards I pulled on my running gear, grabbed my backpack and headed to the tube.
I was on my way to the Vitality 10,000 race in Central London. And in all honesty I wasn’t exactly in the mood to run. I arrived at Green Park and, along with 100’s of other runners, queued to exit the station. As I shuffled towards the escalator, I saw a lone man walking down the escalator on the other side. As he edged closer, I recognised the face as the one and only Bill Nighy. Being alone I had no one to tell and no one around me seemed to notice.
My face lit up and as I opened my mouth to tell anyone that would listen, he caught my eye, nodded, winked, blew me a kiss, mouthed ‘good luck’ at me and carried on walking. It was as if he was secretly saying, “I know you know who I am, but I don’t want anyone else to notice, so I’m going to acknowledge it secretly.”
What I loved most about this little encounter was that, based on what I had read about Bill Nighy’s brush with fans in the past, this was 100% his style. I seriously hope he walked away in the knowledge that he made my day, if not my year. And boy did that help kick me into gear for my race.
I arrived around an hour early, which gave me time to meander around the grounds, before joining a long snaking toilet queue and finally dropping off my bag. The whole event was very organised and I made it to the start line with a couple of minutes to spare. I had given my time as a sub 50-minute 10k, so I was at the front of the pack and as a result there was limited congestion once we set off.
I don’t think I have ever run in such hot and humid weather and this made me nervous. It’s no secret that heat and me do not go well together and literally as soon as I set off I was thirsty and counting the steps to the first water station at 3km. It came quickly and I was soon sipping and pouring the contents of the bottle over my head.
Every time I run a 10k race, I groan and grunt all the way around. If anyone who has experienced this happens to be reading, I’m sorry. I have tried all distances and find 10k the hardest. I would even go so far as saying that I found the London Marathon easier. Why? Because I haven’t learnt to pace myself for a 10k yet and always run off much faster than I should. By the time I get half way, I’m cursing myself, wishing I’d have set off slower. Today was no different.
The route however was perfect for sightseeing. I live and work in Central London, but even I get tingles when I see sights such as Admiralty Arch, Nelson’s Column, St Paul’s Cathedral, Mansion House, the Bank of England, the Old Bailey, Somerset House, Big Ben, the Houses of Parliament and Westminster Abbey. I have to admit though – I didn’t see all of the above sights because, and if any of you have ever experienced a race like this, you’ll know what I’m talking about – my mind is usually concentrating on how horrible my body feels, rather than how lovely the sights are.
Having struggled with injuries during my Marathon training, I was slightly nervous that my IT band, or shin splints would rear their ugly head, but no. The only pain I had to endure was a mental one – counting each km, as each one seemed to be longer than the last.
I always find km’s 6 and 7 to be the hardest, and once I passed the 8km mark I sped up, leaving only a small amount of energy for my last km. And as I approached the last 100m, I looked at my watch and felt a pang of terror, similar to how I felt at the London Marathon when I saw the seconds ticking by towards the 4 hour mark (I came in at 3:59:57). Today I wanted to get sub 49 minutes and kept glancing at my watch as it edged closer, each second ticking by quicker than I hoped. At the last minute I found a little bit of much needed energy in the tank and sprinted, as fast as I could, to cross the line at 48:55. I did it. And after picking up my medal and race t-shirt, was off to be pampered with a free massage, hosted by Urban Massage.
I want to thank Magdalena for giving me 20 minutes of pure massage bliss and a few exercise tips to strengthen my legs ready for my next race. Once done, I wandered out of Green Park, down into the tube and smiled as I retraced the steps where my magical Bill Nighy moment had happened earlier in the day.