Tag Archives: Hornsey YMCA

Race Recap: 2016 YMCA North London / Crouch End 10k

My running has not been spectacular for the past 6-8 months. After a 5k PR/PB in September, life got busy and stressful. Rather than enjoying running as a stress reliever, as I always have, running became a struggle. Burnout? I don’t think so. Doing too much in all aspects of my life? Possibly. Anyway, I backed off the running for a while. Only in the past few months have I become consistent again, trying to get out for three runs a week without the pressure of track workouts or races. I wanted to start enjoying running again — and I am getting there! It helps to have supportive and understanding running friends. Here’s a recap of my first race since December.

Post race. Photo credit: Tom Hosking Photography (https://www.facebook.com/TomHoskingPhotography/)

Post race group of friendly Heathsiders. Photo credit: Tom Hosking Photography (https://www.facebook.com/TomHoskingPhotography/)

I last ran the YMCA North London / Crouch End 10k two years ago, on a miserably hot day, and marshaled last year on another hot day. Today’s weather was sunny but not too warm (~50F/10C) — much more pleasant for tackling the infamous hills around Ally Pally that make up part of the 2-lap course. Since I have not been doing any speedwork or long runs, my approach to today’s race was very much about using it as a training run and getting back into slightly longer distances. I set myself an achievable goal of finishing this year’s race under 1 hour. And it would’ve been silly not to take up the opportunity of running an organized race that starts less than a mile from home!

As always, the Crouch End 10k has a fantastic atmosphere. I loved arriving to see the crowd being led in the traditional aerobics warm up by an enthusiastic instructor. I found some fellow Heathsiders, congratulated them on recent marathon and half marathon times, and lined up for the start. In a way this is Heathside’s home race, so lots of club members were out running, marshaling, and supporting.

Aerobics warm up for the Crouch End 10k

Aerobics warm up for the Crouch End 10k

I’ll spare you the details of each kilometer, but it was fun to navigate the twists and turns of Crouch End neighborhoods with over 1,000 other runners. There is always so much support along the course, and this year was no different. I loved seeing lots of young people and families outside to cheer on the runners. It was great to be recognized by many of the marshals (most of them being fellow Heathside runners) and being egged on by shouts of, “Come on, Heathside!”, thanks to my club vest (“vest” is UK-speak for singlet or sleeveless top). The highlights for me were running across Ally Pally park — although there’s that sneaky gradual uphill section partway along — and running past the house blaring “YMCA” just before the 5k mark.

I went through 5k in a comfortable 27:33, so knew I could finish under an hour. My pace wasn’t fast but it was maintainable, so I kept chugging along and reminding myself that this was a training run and there was no pressure to race. It can be hard to hold back in a race situation, as the atmosphere and other runners can have you chomping at the bit, but I was happy to run along at my own pace and smile at the crowds, other runners, and beautiful weather. It was just great to be out celebrating fitness and life in the springtime!

I finished in 56:06, probably my slowest recorded 10k race, but I am okay with that. I am glad to have done it and gained the confidence that I can still run longer distances (I know, a 10k is no marathon, but distance is relative to the runner and his/her baseline). Now I can focus on getting some speed back and building up my long runs. Great job to all runners and especially Heathsiders! The race organisation was great and the marshaling was top notch.


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Race Recap: Hornsey YMCA / Crouch End 10k

You might think a sunny day is great for road racing, but let’s be honest: it’s not. Give me 10C/50F and cloudy over 20C/68F and sunny any day — the latter were this morning’s conditions for the Hornsey YMCA / Crouch End 10k. Maybe if the weather had already been this warm for weeks it would’ve been fine, but the warmth snuck up on us and this has been the hottest day of the year. That meant almost none of us were acclimatized to the temperature — not to mention the sun — and so the race felt a lot harder than it might have if it had been cooler.

That said, the sun makes for a great atmosphere and bright moods all around. After participating in many races over the past year that have consisted of 90% club runners, it was refreshing and fun to run a race where the tables were turned: probably 80% of participants did not belong to a club and were running this as a one-off and/or to raise money and/or to support the Crouch End community. There were over 1200 finishers — a fantastic turnout. Heathsiders were out in force — this being one of our “home” races that we helped organize and marshal (I spent two hours on Saturday morning stapling arrows to trees and putting up kilometer markers) — and there was even a small group running to represent my chorus.

Now to the race itself, with a few personal qualifiers: I had modest goals for myself, since I’ve run more than 10k only twice since getting injured in January. I knew the distance would be tough both for my knee and my endurance, based on the low running volume. Surprisingly, however, my lower body felt pretty good for the whole race — my knee was only a little bit sore by the end ((hooray!).

But did I mention the other factor? It. Was. Hot. I stupidly didn’t wear sunglasses (never making that mistake again), though I had remembered to put on sunscreen. The heat went right to my head, and though my legs felt fine throughout the race, my brain felt overheated, which led me to run a bit more conservatively — especially in the last 4km — that I might have, especially after seeing quite a few runners who dropped out because of the heat. I grabbed water at all four stops, which I never do in races shorter than 10 miles.

Fortunately, Jo and I ran together for the whole race, trading off small leads and helping each other along. We had some brief contact with Caroline B. before she took off and beat us by almost 3 minutes; Caroline W. also had a great race and finished a minute ahead of us. My splits were all over the place — my pace definitely dipped on the gradual uphill sections, so I tried to make up time on the downhills. I ended up finishing the 10km (6.2mi) race in 48:16 (7:47/mile = 4:49/km), well off my PR/PB but right around where I’d hoped to finish based on how my training has gone. I finished 212th/1236, the 27th woman of 549 and the 6th Heathside woman of 23 running.

Well done to everyone who ran today, especially the CEFCers and Heathsiders. Special props to Heathsiders Cathy and Rebecca for going 1-2 in the women’s race and to Tom for winning the men’s race!

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