Birthday Race! Run Through Battersea Park 5k (Plus Speed Workout!)

Firstly, thank you for all the birthday and anniversary wishes this weekend, I had a lovely weekend (other than of course being away from my husband!!!). We are going to celebrate next week when I get back to the US.

Most runners, myself included, have a bucket list of races they want to do in their lifetime.

For me, the summer of 2016 seemed like the perfect summer to check off lots of them as I didn’t have any longer races planned, nor were Steve and I going anywhere that would clash with them……little did we know 😉

During my two weeks off after London, we decided it was time for a speed segment to prepare me for the marathon for the fall.

So we planned out four races; Bix 7, Peachtree, Beach2Beacon, and Falmouth.

I was excited to physically put the check (or should I say “tick” as I am still in England!) next to the race in my spreadsheet, and see what all the excitement was about for these races. I did race Bix last year, but it was fun, so that was another one worth going back to.

Especially as they had AMAZING ice cream at Whiteys!

Always thinking of the sugar 😉

But no sooner had we planned these out, got Larry to reach out to the race directors, when Amsterdam was thrown in there. The European Championships representing your country would take precedent, so that threw Bix and Peachtree out.

Well worth it to represent your country and visit Amsterdam, even if I did have a bad race.

But at least I had the two I really wanted to do left.

But life happens sometimes, and unfortunately, Beach2Beacon fell right in the middle of the time I had to travel home to be with my family for the passing of my dear Nanny Jolly.

Jolly cousins
Some of my cousins at the Wake. A sad day, but it brought us all together, just like she would have wanted

We were not even sure whether I would race at all, the emotional strain was a lot on me, not just for grieving, but all the organization and stress associated.

The first weekend was out, not a chance I could mentally focus after that.

But with the help of my friend, Tom Craggs, we found a 5k in London that seemed pretty flat and fast. There were other options, but they had a lot of turns, and after Amsterdam, that was the last thing I wanted!

So we signed up for the Run Through Battersea Park 5k…..we being Steve and I of course! Team Ice cream 🙂

But we decided I was not going to taper at all as we did not know what would happen.

I ran 20 miles on Monday, and 8 miles worth of hard on Wednesday (including finishing with a 2:27 800m, which I was pretty proud of for these marathoner legs!!)

It was a great confidence booster workout, and although I knew I would be tired going into this race with two runs on Thursday, and a regular 9 mile run on Friday, I felt confident that I could potentially run very well.

But the day before the race, the grieving process really hit me.

I had been holding all my sadness in for the last 10 days, determined to be there as best I could for everyone else. As you know, I am honest, and I hate holding things in, so obviously, it came back to bite me.

On Friday night, I was exhausted.

Emotionally, I could not imagine racing or even getting out of bed the next morning. All I wanted to do was stare at the wall.

I didn’t care that it was my birthday the next day.

I told my parents I did not want to race, and went to bed… 8pm.

But as I tossed and turned that night, I decided I had nothing to lose.

The people who are going to judge me for running a slow time are not the kind of people I want in my life anyway. Nanny would have wanted me to get on with my life and go get things, that’s what she did after all.

So off we went at 6am to London for the race.

I had let the race organizers know I was trying to run fast, and they had a lead bike for me, but they warned me that they could only control so much, and they were not used to having someone of my level at the race, this was after all, a fun run, which is fantastic, as I am all about anything that gets people running!

I also had no idea how to pace a 5k, which was terrifying, but I was going to just run as hard as I could. I knew that if I was going to run fast, I would have to be out of breath from the start.

So off I went, and within 30 seconds, I had a big lead.

Tina run through 5k

The first lap flew by, I was out of breath, but I felt strong, and I had high hopes of running fast. The lead biker was great, moving pedestrians out-of-the-way, so I had a very clear path of the inside of the lap.

I pushed out any thoughts that told me that the emotion of this week was going to hit me. I told myself to just focus on getting to the next corner, tree, kilometer mark.

But then the trouble came.

The race also involved a 10k, which was four laps of the course, and on the second lap, I had to run around the edge of them. The runners had no idea I was coming until the lead bike got to them, and they were five wide.

I knew I was running extra, but it was better than the alternative, which was to try to weave in and out of them on the inside.

I tried to hug the curve as best I could, but I was conscious that other focusing runners would still be trying to overtake others themselves and looking for ways to get around. I spent most of the second lap concentrating on not running into them.

In some ways, this was good, as it distracted my mind from the pain, but I honestly believe that was a good 15-20 seconds I added within the 2k lap.

As I crossed the finish, almost a minute ahead of the second place runner, no one even saw me coming! The photographers were not ready for me, and the final straightaway, the 10k runners were all over the path.

Not exactly ideal, but again, I am just happy people are participating in more running events!

Besides, 12 hours ago, I was not even going to race.

I crossed the finish line in 16:34, happy enough with that considering everything.

Tina battersea

But the day was not done.

I had 14 miles total to run for the day (I had done less than half), and a speed workout to do.

After 1 mile jog in between, I completed 8×400 along the River Thames, with most of the passers-by thinking I was insane.

I ran as fast as I possibly could, and surprised myself with the paces I was able to run (most fell around 72-74).

Tina speed

After a long cool down, I was finally finished for the day, and could enjoy the rest of my birthday.

If you told me a few weeks ago that I would be celebrating my birthday with just my parents, I would have laughed. I thought my days with just my parents were long gone, but we decided to make the most of a day in London, and went out with my Godfather and his partner for lunch at CAU in Wimbledon.

I had such a wonderful day with my mum and dad, and don’t worry, I had lots of sugar.

I finally made it to The Pudding Stop after years of wanting to go, and it exceeded my expectations.

I went for the flourless chocolate cake with salted caramel chocolate sauce with milk ice cream.

pudding stop tina

But I still hadn’t had my proper cake, so then proceeded to eat my Lola’s Cookies and Cream Cupcake when I got home!

That evening, I facetimed Steve, and he “sat” with us for an hour while I opened my cards and presents. One of my best friends Charlie came over, and we all had a glass of Prosecco to celebrate.

How things can change in 24 hours. I had a wonderful birthday.

Thank you to everyone who took the time to wish me a happy birthday, your love and happy wishes made me smile, and I am so thankful for such a great 28 years on this world.

So hopefully my race experience can show you, that even if your week is stressful, even if you think that you cannot possibly run well after a stressful week, just go for it.

With no expectations, just see what you can do.

You have nothing to lose, and you may just surprise yourself 🙂

Have you ever done a race with no expectations?


5k, london, racing, speed

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  • I’m so happy to read this and I love how you turned it around, had the right attitude in the 5k (which you crushed!!!) and celebrated with your closest family. I’m sure it’s a birthday you will never forget!!

  • It sounds like you had a good race considering all o the circumstances. I always hate races that have a couple of distances and you find you find yourself weaving around racers. It sounds like your birthday went well too. I can definetely relate to having to spend a birthday away from friends and family. For some reason my husband seems to be gone the majority of mine.

  • Loved every word of this, Tina and took it to heart (confess I had a tear at the part where Steve joined you via Skype). HAPPY BIRTHDAY belated (I unplugged from technology this weekend and missed it). I think some of our most powerful energy within is released during times when stress and pinned up love meet & make their way out; so happy you decided to give your body, mind and spirit a place to let it go! You did EXCELLENT and executed wisely! CONGRATS on the win and safe travels back 😀 you made/make your Nanny proud!!

  • Heather @Lunging Through Life
    August 8, 2016 7:41 am

    Happy Birthday!!! Glad you decided to run it!

  • Abi Brightside
    August 8, 2016 8:43 am

    I NEVER have any expectations ha ha 🙂 Belated birthday wishes, congratulations, and hello!

  • Eleanor Pearce
    August 8, 2016 9:42 am

    That’s awesome, happy birthday! I’m glad you were able to be around family, especially during your birthday, even though it was a tough time.

    I am headed to London in November (16-27) back to visit my family (born in Chelmsford, live in Florida now) and was wondering if you knew of any 5ks during that time or where I could find that out? I’m really wanting to run in a race while I’m over there! Thanks!

  • I love how your birthday turned out better than you expected, even if you couldn’t be with Steve. You will have to celebrate again when you get back to KY! More cake!! More ice cream!! YAYYY!!!
    You have such a gift for finding something positive in every situation. I think it’s great how you let yourself feel every emotion…get it out of your system and then you move on. Congrats on your race! Also, sounds like you totally rocked that hard workout…I’m in awe of you!! Nanny Jolly would definitely be proud of you 🙂

  • Happy Birthday! I love your mentality during the 5K and how sometimes running and focusing on little things in races makes all the difference. That cake looks amazing! It’s lovely to at least have your parents for your birthday.

  • Happy belated birthday Tina and well done on your race. When I lost my Gran a couple of years ago, I was likewise grand one minute, then steamrolled the next, but I found getting out for a run actually really helped and gave me a way of channelling all those mixed up emotions as well as some head space to think. Glad to hear you had a lovely birthday and your respect for cake and chocolate has certainly inspired me for my own birthday this week! 😉

  • My grandma passed right around my birthday as well 2 years ago. I always think of her at that time even more and like to think she is thinking of me as well. Sometimes that is the best time to race

  • Danielle Turk-Bly
    August 8, 2016 3:12 pm

    Lady, you are incredibly driven, speedy, and inspiring! I just ran my fastest 5K in 17:35…I couldn’t imagine running as fast as you.. (but hey, a girl can dream 😉 ). Happy belated birthday and anniversary!

  • I totally agree that sometimes the last minutes races are the best ones. Last February I went on vacation. There were a delay before the plane took off and I randomly decided to look up races at the place where I was traveling. I saw that there was a half marathon and 5k the next day. I planned on doing the 5k, but then the next morning when I got to registration I impulsively decided to enter the half marathon, even though I had never done one before. I had zero expectations and wasn’t even nervous when the gun went off. I finished in 1:43 and would have been happy with that except that I lost so much time in the last 4 miles of the race and was angry at myself afterward. But, I was also happy because I was jet lagged and it was my first half marathon.

    • Also, happy birthday you are such an amazing and inspiring runner and your blog is amazing!

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