If it’s pouring, I’m not running.
That was my mindset going into the Henley 10K. I signed up on the morning of (yay for local races allowing this) and knew that I would simply be turning off the alarm and going back to sleep if the heavens were open. Luckily, it was dry when I left the house and only spitting whilst I signed up and paid my £30.
I haven’t run all week due to feeling ill and exhausted, so I wasn’t sure how the 10K would feel. I was planning on running with Emma and following a 9 min run/1 min walk strategy, which we mostly did except for skipping one walking break on a downhill. No way were we going to give up the downhill speed!
There is a HUGE hill around mile 1 that we climbed for well over a mile. It was brutal and felt endless. But we made it to the top with only our 1 min planned walking break.
While running an older gentleman asked why we were talking so much, we said we were just out running for fun. On the downhill he encouraged us to lean into the gradient, and let our legs just go – which was incredibly helpful. Due to our run/walk strategy we would overtake him while running, and fall back on our walk sections. As he passed us on our walking break, he told us we’d obviously been chatting too much and needed to walk (not said unkindly I must add). But it had me thinking of how many of us, myself included, react to people walking in a race. Watching the London Marathon last weekend, I was giving those walking encouragement to keep going – but how often is walking just part of their race strategy? A strategy I love by the way! It’s not them needing a boost to start running again, it is simply them following their own plan.
We started the race running towards Marlow before turning up the hill to Fawley, back down to Middle Assenden, past Stonor and down the Fairmile (past our old house). The half marathon course takes you out along the River Thames pathway for a loop before joining the 10K loop.
Overall I have mixed feedback from this race. It was great to take part in a local run (this race falls on the same weekend as the Chicago Marathon and Royal Parks Half Marathon) and support the RNLI however we were disappointed there were not enough loos and no secure bag drop (and would have loved some race photographers). With that said, the volunteers were friendly, the race was well signposted and we got more bang for our buck with at least an extra 500m on top of the 10K distance (apparently this is a regular thing at the Henley 10K – or as someone referred to it on IG, the 10.5K). I have also heard that the Half Marathon was roughly 500m short.
After the race and another coffee at Daisy Love, a new coffee shop in town, I took Chester for a walk then watched the Chicago Marathon on TV – although the coverage was…dodgy (both in terms of the video and commentary) it was incredibly inspiring watching the elites and tracking friends from social media through the race and seeing updates from Manchester Marathon and Royal Parks Half. I feel like my own running has been a series of ups and downs…mostly downs…over the past 2 years. I’m really hopeful that this month, as I cut down my hours at work, will be a turning point in my training.
RACE DAY FAQ:
Packet pickup – by the start/finish line at Henley Rugby Club. There was also on-the-day sign up.
Bag drop – a room to leave bags (unattended) at the rugby club
Aid Stations – water stations around 3K and 6K I think
Loos/Bathrooms – porta loos in the car park at the start. The loos in the Rugby Club were closed off (we felt a bit miffed that the cafe was open at the rugby club but they’d closed all but the disabled loo – which we used!)
Cut off time – I don’t think there was a cut off time!
How much is entry? The 10K was £30 entry/£35 for the half marathon.
Finish line goodies? Medals were handed out at the finish line along with bottles of water and bananas.
Post-Race – the Rugby Club cafe was open for drinks and snacks, it’s also a short walk into Henley for plenty of cafe and restaurant options.
Were you racing this weekend? What races have you got coming up soon?