WHERE: St. Pauls, London
WHEN: 14th June 2015
I’d run lots of miles leading up to the Amba Hotels City of London Mile but not many of them were singular. Plenty were hard but very few were fast and non of them singular. After a friend caught me scoffing a custard pastry 40 minutes before my race, it dawned on me that I wasn’t very prepared for this event.
I found out the mile was a tough and painful event, after a practice run in March but apparently that wasn’t enough to scare me into training for race day. You don’t run fast without running faster but, as my distance has increased for ultra training, I’ve inevitably got slower and very rarely alter my speed.
On longer runs, it takes me a couple of miles to settle into a good pace but there's no time for adjustment with a mile race. BOOM! You're straight into it, so warming up and waking up your body is essential. But rather than joining other runners in bouncing up and down the road, I watched them. Feeling entirely underprepared and dreading the seven or so minutes that would follow the enormous bang of the start cannon, I hurried my bag to the drop and lined up with my wave.
I crossed the start with panic but relief that it would soon be over. After reaching a much-welcomed half way sign, I felt even more relief and I even managed a second or two of appreciation for the closed roads and view of St. Paul's Cathedral, poking out from in between city high-risers.
A few metres out from the finish, my legs became competitive and forced me up a gear to pass the next closest runner. It didn't help my unsurprisingly slow result but it proved, with a bit of training, there was a hint of speed in me.
It turns out I wasn't the only unprepared party. Whilst the running of each wave was militant, the tricky matter of hundreds of people returning within a handful of minutes to collect their bags seems to have been overlooked. I appreciate this was run by volunteers and the event was completely free, so I hate to criticise it but they seemed to only devise a system when they realised they had an unhappy queue of finishers, causing chaos!
|Runners of the future finishing the family mile|
I waited an hour to eventually pick up my own bag. This did give me plenty of time to look around at the other runners, though. Nearly-nude club runners and nervous first-timers, chatty friends and excitable kids, the super speedy and gentle plodders... It was a completely accessible event, not just for the manageably short distance but for the completely free entry – truly a celebration of running.