On Sunday the 19th of June I ran in my third City of London Mile. In 2014 I ran the race after completing the Hackney Half Marathon; it was a really good idea to put on a wave which allowed runners to travel across from East London to take part. It was the first mile race I took part in; I really enjoyed it and although I was fatigued from running the half marathon in the morning in the heat it gave me a benchmark to know how fast I could probably run a mile. I ran 5:42 which I was happy with considering I ran a 1:21 half a few hours before (not far from my PB at the time). In the first year I was still working at the London Marathon Store and had heard about Run-Fast/The Running Works/City of London Mile via social media. In April 2015 I started working in The Running Works, I couldn’t wait for the City of London Mile to come around as I knew it would be a fun day to work, and run in one of the waves.
Last year I ran in wave 2. Having ran the Westminster Mile in 5:03 a couple of weeks before the COLM I knew I would get close to that elusive sub 5. Being in training for Race to the Stones 100k scuppered my plans a bit. I needed to be doing more mileage so had ran 19 miles on the Saturday before the race. Despite the long run I felt pretty good on the day and managed to run 5:02. I was happy with the result but ultimately I wanted a time with a 4 at the start. With a shortage of mile races around I knew it would be a fair while until I could give it another crack. I really enjoyed the event last year, the atmosphere was great again and it was awesome to see so many friends racing and beating their PBs. I found it really good fun to cheer on other runners, from elite athletes to parents and children in the family waves. The mile distance really is great as it is so inclusive. There was a similar atmosphere to parkrun, there’s a great sense of community.
This year in the build up to the City of London Mile, James, David, Nikki and I headed across the city to show our support for the Ealing Mile. It was a good team outing and another opportunity for me to attempt that sub 5 again. You can read about what happened here:
After going sub 5 at the Ealing Mile I wanted to try and scrape some more time off. Having been to track regularly over the last year and a bit I was quietly confident, however due to lots of running in the Black Forest and Endure 24 etc my legs were feeling a bit knackered. On the Saturday Lorna and I did a long run to Greenwich and back in preparation for the Zagori Marathon in Greece, it was a really nice day for it, it’s always good to do a long run along the river. On Sunday I woke up bright and early to head towards St. Pauls and the race village site. I couldn’t believe our luck with the weather, it was so nice and sunny. The first couple hours of the day went really quickly, helping to set up The Running Works retail space and putting out signs etc. At about 9:30am I had to run down to Monument station to let one of the vans into the race area, this doubled up as a warm up/shakeout ha. I got back to The Running Works tent to put on my racing singlet and split shorts and then jogged down to the start line outside St. Pauls for 10 o’clock.
In the lead up to the race a number of friends had signed up and were aiming for a time similar to mine, sub 5 again. In the store we had a board put in place for people to write down their predicted times, initially I had set mine at 4:57. This kept creeping down as Ken (massage therapist at work) was coming in to the store and putting down one second quicker than me. This resulted in the hashtags: #KenVSteve, #SteveWho, #KenWho etc. Andy Cohen-Wray had also been making predictions and was dishing out the trash talk pre-race on Twitter. In wave 1 was a couple hundred people, including: Ken, Andy, Robbie Smith, Adam Lennox, Fabio Rizzo, Alex Van Oostrum, Billy Rayner, Ed Price, Paul Martelletti and Gemma Hockett. I positioned myself a couple of rows back from the start line and then before we knew it we were off. Knowing that if I ran around 3 min/km pace I would finish sub 5 I glanced at my watch a couple of times in the first few hundred metres to check I was on the target pace. I felt good after the first 800m so started to up it. I was overtaking quite a few runners and as I took the few corners around Bank I could see Ken. I tracked him down and then on the last corner before the straight up Cheapside I passed him. My legs were still feeling good and I managed a decent kick up the home straight despite it being a little in to wind.
I ran straight through the finish line not looking at the clock but I knew I had gone sub 5 again. I love the adrenaline rush you get from racing, especially over the shorter distances. I’ve started really enjoying pushing the pace on shorter reps at track. Having not stopped my watch on the finish line I was wondering what time I’d done.
In the finish area Ken, Andy and I congratulated each other on a great run, Ken beat his estimated time finishing in 4:48 and Andy ran 5:07. He’d raced the day before and has been racing a huge amount recently, or at least that’s his excuse ;).
After completing my mile I spent the majority of the day in The Running Works tent selling our COLM tees and taking photos of people with the selfie frames. I feel that the event was even more enjoyable this year than last. One of the massive contributing factors to this was a lot of the lead volunteers were Advent Runners. James and Claudia did a great job in helping organise the start and baggage drop areas. The whole group of volunteers were so enthusiastic and energetic in helping make the day great fun for everyone. Another reason this year was better than last year was the Amba Hotels, Mizuno Running City of London Mile t-shirts. It was great to see so many people wearing and running in their bright yellow tees. The selfie frames were also great fun, since the event so many great pics have been posted on Instagram and Twitter using #RunCityMile and/or #CityMileSelfie. A fair few runners from The Running Works Run Club ran in the mile which was good. A lot of them were doing their first mile race, for some it was their first race full stop. Well done to Spencer Herbert, Kay Ma, Effy Bailey, Jo Osmond, Adam Turnbull, Yann Lancien, Rohan Chaffey and Martin White for running great times.
A special mention has to go to Tony Lee. Tony started running with us in the couch to 5k group a couple of months ago, since then he has been doing parkrun regularly, he smashed one in 25 minutes a few weeks back. On the Monday before the mile we ran the distance on a route near Shadwell basin, he wanted to see how it would feel and what time he could run. We managed to clock a time of 7:31, this gave him a good gauge as to what he could do on race day. Straight after we’d finished the mile he wasn’t out of breath and he could easily ask me what time we’d done, at that point we knew he could run a mile much quicker than that. On race day Tony flew round the City of London Mile course finishing in 6:59! It’s been amazing to see how much he has improved over a short period of time and to go sub 7 is awesome, well done Tony!
See a lot of you soon