Back to racing! Prior to coming to London I searched for a variety of races to participate in, and the Adidas City Runs Fulham 10K appealed to me for several reasons:
1. The race is held in a relatively central area of London 1a. As luck would have it, the race is an easy jog (1.6mi) from our new apartment! 2. The race comes before I’m starting to pile on distance. If this race were held on a weekend where I need to run 16 miles, there’s a good chance I’d pass, since it won’t help much. But for now, bring on all the 10Ks! 3. Adidas has an international network of run clubs that are very well-publicized. Having participated in adidas Runners Tel Aviv, I’m very curious to join one of their races. 4. The race is billed as flat (albeit with a lot of turns), and since I’ve upped my running volume considerably over the past 6 weeks and added in some speedwork, I’m curious to see what I can do!
Price: 42.40 GPB, or $54.73. This is probably definitely the most expensive 10K I’ve ever registered for. According to the website, this includes an adidas running shirt (valued at 25 GBP), “bespoke” training sessions (it’s a group training session, how bespoke can it be?), free race photos (all Israeli races include free photos, so I am not impressed). They do appear to have a lot of businesses in the area offering discounts/free drinks to runners when showing their medal, so that’s something, I guess. Value for money: B This was originally a C, but then I remembered that the race is run entirely on closed roads…those road closure permits cost money, and it’s definitely worth it.
So why did I register if I don’t think the value for money is good (road closures aside)? Because this appears to be a big, hyped-up event, in general I prefer running larger races, and many of the races I run in Israel (especially the 10Ks and below) tend to be no-frills affairs. In other words, I’m paying for the pomp and circumstance.
Website: Had all the info I needed!
Publicity: Considering I’m in a variety of adidas Runners groups…I haven’t seen nearly much about this event as I expected. Publicity: C…though the race did sell out, so I guess their publicity did the trick!
Transportation to the race: warm-up jog–doesn’t get any easier than that! This makes me miss all of the Central Park races, where I could just roll out of bed, jog up to 2 miles, and be there…Transportation: A+
Weather: My phone said it was 37F when I left the house. By the time I returned home, it was 46F. What made the weather tolerable was the fact that it was actually sunny today!
Time: 9:10am. The race has waves, going from Project 500 (this race is part of a series of 3 races around London, and runners who run all 3 are part of Project 500 and also got an additional medal for completing the series), then Wave A-E. I was assigned to Wave B, which I discovered via an email that I received 10 days prior to the event. Given the temperature, the race could obviously have started later, but since they can only keep the roads closed for so long, I’ll take it.
Start/finish area: I walked through the area the day before to pick up my race packet. The area is cute with lots of port o potties…but I could tell the field would quickly turn into a giant mud pit. Luckily it hasn’t been rainy, so the mud wasn’t too terrible, and mostly just stuck to the bottoms of my shoes. The pre-race port o potty lines weren’t bad, and I had plenty of time to go to the bathroom before the race started.
I loved the “Loos for Dos” and made sure to lock eyes/give a knowing look to any man who left the port o potties, since there were separate urinal stalls…
Packet pick-up: Race packets (including the shirt) were shipped to participants, but since I didn’t know where I’d be staying (and didn’t want it shipped to Lior’s office), I registered as an international runner. This means that I needed to pick up my race packet in person. I was okay with this, because when I read race reviews from the event, they said that the shirts were unisex and not well-fitted. This meant I might need to request a different size. This race is a bit unique in that it requires all runners to wear the shirt for the event…rather than giving out bibs, participants’ race number is printed on the shirt. If participants need a different sized shirt, they therefore also need a different race number.
Anyway, the packet pick-up was seamless, with a lot of people exchanging their shirts because they were too large…I arrived just after the help desk opened at 11:00am and left with my gear a few minutes later.
Race shirt: Since I knew the race shirts were unisex, I ordered an XS. Had I not known, I would have ordered an S. Side note: I have an adidas women’s S and M and they are both great shirts (I don’t notice a difference in the sizing, tbh). Since this whole event is a massive adidas branding bonanza, I don’t understand why they can’t offer women’s shirts…especially for the price! For a unisex shirt, the fit is decent, just a bit baggy in the middle…but if I’d ordered a S, I would have been swimming in it. Shirt: B-…shouldn’t be unisex, but the XS fits relatively well. I will keep this shirt.
I was pleasantly surprised by the shirts BUT THEY STILL NEED WOMEN’S SIZES
What I wore: adidas race shirt (obviously), long sleeve shirt underneath, leggings, running headband (to cover my ears), and cotton hot pink gloves that I bought as a throwaway for the 2018 Tokyo Marathon but ended up using for the entire race. This was the perfect running outfit, because it kept me warm(ish) before and after the run. There was only one stretch during the race where I felt a bit overheated.
Bag drop: Didn’t use it…I try to avoid using bag drops whenever possible.
Course: As you can see below, the course was very twisty.
image credit: https://www.adidascityruns.com/fulham/overview/
In general I enjoyed the turns because it made the course more interesting. It was only the hairpin turns that I could do without. The course was somewhat interesting–very residential, which I enjoyed. Not much crowd support, but it’s 9am on a chilly Sunday morning, so I wasn’t expecting much. There were a few music stations on the route, which was nice. Apparently there were cheer stations, but I only noticed an adidas Runners cheer tunnel toward the end. The course was very flat except for one or two small bits. Yay for courses that are actually flat! My slowest mile was my first, at 9:34, and each mile got faster, with mile 6 being 8:17. My final time according to the timing app was 55:32, which is my fastest 10K in over 2 years!
I’m very pleased with my pacing, because 4 of my miles were sub-9:00, which is not normal for me these days. I do think that my training is paying off–especially running my easy runs a bit slower and also doing a speed workout each week. As an added bonus, my pace was just above the relative 10K pace that I “should” be able to run if I want to run a 4:15 marathon in Tokyo. This is a major confidence boost, because it shows that if I put in the work…it could happen!
Also, just after crossing the finish line and feeling a bit nauseous from the effort, the guy next to me let out a really juicy burp. It was NOT what I wanted to hear at that moment.
My one suggestion for the race is that they add countdown signs below 1km: “800m to go”, “400m to go”, “200m to go” because I think it would hype up the end, and also because it felt like the last km dragged on a bit, and having those signs could have helped me keep my energy up.
Water stations: There was only one, at the 5K mark, and I skipped it because I was in good rhythm. I made sure to drink the (canned) water immediately after the race, though!
Bathrooms: THERE WERE PORT O POTTIES ON THE COURSE! A+++
Pictures: To come! There were photographers and since the website touted the free pictures as a benefit of the race…fingers crossed I have some decent ones!
Medal: The medal is huge. In Lior’s words, “…this isn’t a marathon. This medal is made for someone with a huge neck.” I agree, the medal is disproportionately huge. Since I race a lot, I prioritize the design over the size. To its credit, which the medal isn’t the prettiest, it is unique. It’s also neon yellow, which happens to be a favorite color of mine, so I’m a bit biased…
If I were a permanent London resident, I would run other adidas City Runs events, even though they give out unisex shirts. The event was very well-organized, and I enjoyed the Fulham 10K’s fast, flat course. Now, onward and upward to more post-2017* PRs!
*In April-August 2017, when I was training for the 2017 NYC Marathon, I set (and broke) all of my PRs in the 5K, 10K, and half marathon. I haven’t managed to run as fast since, due to the fact that I haven’t been regularly training rigorously/with a team. While I don’t expect to return to these speeds overnight, I hope that with regular training, I’ll get there!