So today I had both Network Rail and TfL trying to sabotage my travel plans with their engineering works/line closures but luckily I managed to get to London town with plenty of time for my second outing at the Amba Hotels City of London Mile.
Last year I’d headed off with a certain amount of scepticism about how it was all going to unfold considering it was the inaugural run and my dreams are still haunted by the disaster that was the inaugural Run to the Beat half marathon in 2008. My scepticism was entirely misplaced in 2014 and it would have been today if I’d had any doubts – which I didn’t! The organisers have it down to a tee – it all worked perfectly last year and it all worked perfectly this year. The only thing they couldn’t quite manage to pull off was the weather but even so, the cooler temperatures and natural “misting stations” probably worked in our favour.
I’d departed Ebbsfleet in sunshine, pulled into St Pancras to grey skies and emerged from the underground at Bank to rain! I should say that when traversing the tangle of tunnels and escalators/stairs that is Bank station, it was rather disconcerting to hear the station announcements about delays on the Central line down to a person on the line. It wasn’t quite so much the incident itself but more the jolly tone of voice with which we were kept informed about the situation. I know it wasn’t a “human” announcer but still, her tone made it sound like some “jolly jape”. I do hope that poor person was okay.
I emerged from the tube and made my way up Poultry and Cheapside to the shelter of the One New Change Shopping Centre. I know this shopping centre quite well and more importantly, I know where the toilets are! So having made myself comfortable, I then proceeded to the number collection point which all went very smoothly. Fortunately I remembered my number so didn’t have to join the queue (although even that was short).
Having completed the safety details and attached the run number to the front of my top, I then began my warm up, which basically consisted of running around One New Change trying to find a bin to dispose of the envelope which had contained my number. Bins are sadly lacking in this part of London so I went back to the only place I knew there definitely would be a bin – the toilets! Oh well, while I’m here 😉
(My race number is not an indication of my “expertise”, more a reflection of my eagerness to enter!)
When I emerged from the centre, I realised the first wave would be crossing the finish line so made my way over in time to see the last “stragglers” come in. I then stayed to watch the second wave coming home before making my way over to the wave holding/congregation area. I had plenty of time so I sauntered over to Cannon Street to watch the next wave start off.
On the way out
Now I know I’ve been acting a bit too “casual” recently but one runner went passed eating a sandwich – I kid you not! It was only a mile, you don’t need to refuel after a few hundred metres! But let’s give him the benefit of the doubt – perhaps he’d missed breakfast. I hope he didn’t get indigestion on the way around!
Ten minutes before our start time, we were herded towards the start line and then came the jumping up and down to keep warmed up part. By this time the rain had more or less stopped and the clock on St Paul’s kept us informed of the rapidly approaching start. Even so the start gun went off without any pre-warning, well not if you were near the back of the pack anyway, and we were off!
Because of the accumulation of runners at the start, it was necessary to keep an eye on potholes/protruding manhole covers at the very start but once the field spread out, it was a case of head down and run hell for leather, consoling myself with the fact it would be over in 10 minutes – hopefully. I was also being a bit cautious because of the wet roads and consequent slipping potential and I decided en route this would be my excuse for being slower than last year!
We set off down Cannon Street and Victoria Street towards the Bank of England and a couple of glances at my watch showed me I was doing a cracking pace. It also told me I’d probably gone off too fast and wouldn’t keep it up.
We then continued up Princes Street, turned left into Gresham Street and took another left in front of the Guildhall before turning right on to Cheapside and the long stretch uphill towards home! At the halfway point my Garmin told me I was on 3’ 44” so I knew I should be able to achieve a similar time to last year but I also knew the last few hundred metres were uphill.
Guildhall in the distance
The Royal Exchange and a contrast of old and new
According to RunFast I crossed the line in 7’ 28.23”, a second and a half slower than last year but I’m just glad I managed to prove last year’s time wasn’t a fluke! Although I will admit it did hurt more this year, legs and lungs!
I really believe the organisers of this event (The Running Works) and their sponsors deserve many congratulations. They’ve put on an efficiently run and fun event. There’s plenty of pre-run communication via email and social media; the number collection and disposal of baggage seems to run smoothly and the organisation of the waves works magnificently, giving runners the opportunity to see other participants at both the start and finish of the run.
I know a mile might seem inconsequential to some runners but it is a distance where you can really push yourself knowing that the pain is short-lived. And afterwards, you can play the numbers game and dream of your 5k, 10k, half and marathon times if you just managed to keep up that pace! Or is that just me 😉
Oh, and the other thing, it’s FREE!!!
The best sort of bling!