Running with the deers

Damien Clarkson and Aimee Harrison in GoodGym gear

Bushy Park by Hampton Court was to be the venue for my first 10k race. I met my friend and fellow Hackney GoodGym member Aimee bright and early at 7:30 in the morning. The weather for the race was set to be mild if slightly overcast, I decided to stick to my routine of fruit smoothies for breakfast to fuel myself.

For my race fuel I opted for a straightforward banana smoothie Durian Rider would approve of with 4 bananas. Hoping that the potassium would help keep me hydrated and the bananas as always provide plenty of good clean carbhoydates.

I had never been to Hampton Court before and I was delighted to discover the park has wild deers roaming and I found the scenery to be truly stunning. We dodged the pre race shower and set in the blazing sun, in fact it felt hot with temperature at around 17c.

Today was also the first time I wore my new Garmin Forerunner 210, I really enjoyed being able to monitor my average pace throughout the race. It made sure I kept things nice and consistent in previous runs I have been guilty letting my pace drop and not really realising until someone whizzes past me.

I set off pretty briskly with a first mile pace of 7:29 in my head I had my race strategy all planned out. It went something like this ; position somewhere around 50th place, run the first 5k in about 22/23 mins, then negative split and speed round the second half in around 21 mins picking off people as I go.

In fact I went round like this:

Bushy Park 10k splits
My time of 48:53 placed me in 59th place out of 197 finishers. I am fairly pleased with the result, I thought I would place somewhere in that region. The time was slightly slower than I hoped and I am a bit upset I didn’t negative split. There were a couple of factors which definitely contributed to this these were:

  • It was wet and a lot of running was on grass or muddy uneven trails. I definitely was struggling for footing several occasions
  • It was hot, probably the hottest weather we have had in a few weeks and humidity of 88%
  • I am stupidly inexperienced and again should have put the foot down earlier on

However the run was so enjoyable and two really heartwarming things happened during the race which just makes me love running even more. Firstly a part of the course at around 4km and 9km went through a narrow muddy trail surround by fern trees. As I passed through the trail I heard a rustling on my left, I looked over expecting to see a runner who overcooked it being sick instead a massive stagg deer reared his head from the ferns. It gave me and the guy behind me a bit of a shock but wow it was amazing. I don’t think I will forget that moment for as long as I run.

The second heartwarming thing was of a more human nature at about 5:40 miles a guy pulled over in front of me and let out some frustration. I had seen him start running again after stopping earlier, he could obviously run as he was ahead of me. I just gave him a pat on the back and a few words of encouragement urging him make it the half a mile to the finish.

At the end of the race he came over to me thanked me for my words of encouragement saying he overcooked and I helped him get through the end of the race. That was really nice and made my day. The more I run the more I discover the running community is filled with wonderful people.  Afterwards I went for a lovely post run coffee with Aimee and her Mum. Aimee who hasn’t eaten meat in a few months and is interested in going vegan, did brilliantly running a time of 50.23 in her first 10k race. We both felt on such a high after the race and are already plotting out next races.

Bushy Park

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8 thoughts on “Running with the deers

  1. Your time is amazing, I’m very jealous!
    This sounds like a lovely race, especially seeing the dears.

    • Honestly it was so beautiful. Gave me a bit of a fright but really an amazing experience. Really has made me realise I need to do a lot of work to do a good half marathon time only 6 weeks to get ready.

  2. Hiya, found myself on this when I saw you followed me on twitter just before (ta!). I had the exact same ‘moment’ with that deer on the trail bit, amazing! Really enjoyed that race, v tempted to do the next one there in Dec I think.
    And well done! 🙂

    • You’re welcome on the Twitter follow and thanks on the well done. Likewise well done to you. The deer encounter really was a beautiful moment I am so glad lots of us got to experience it. It is a lovely setting and seemed fairly well organised. I am running the Ashford Half Marathon on the 1st December so that race could be a nice final one before Christmas.

  3. I did my first ever half (Great North Run) last month- loved it! Did 2:02 so wanting to do another now to get under the magic 2 hr barrier. The 10ks are def good training for it!

    Also, since I was looking into this just before, there’s a 10 miler in battersea park on 9th nov if you were wanting a slightly longer training race? The series there is called self-transcendence (easy to find on google). Did one of their 10ks back in summer, and it was pretty like today, small and well organised.

    Good luck with the rest of the training anyway!

    • I did one back in 2010 and was terribly prepared and limped around in 2:17. The race on the 9th could be good, I definitely need to start doing longer runs soon. I am sure you will go under 2 hours next time your 10k time is really good.

      Thanks for the good luck on the training and stay in touch, I love hearing from other runners, it really inspires me.

  4. I’m so jealous, this sounds like an amazing experience. Seeing deer while you’re out running in the early morning sunshine is something so special. And your time is incredible. This should help build up your confidence before your half. It’s going to be great!

    • I hope I was dreaming of a 1:38 time but I will settle for a sub 1:45 after yesterdays performance. I have so many birthdays, gigs, weddings in the next few weeks but hopefully I can squeeze in at least 2 more 10k’s before then. It was such an incredible experience Bushy Park is really a beautiful place at this time of year. Experiences like that are what running is all about really along with improving your health. The times and racing stuff really should come second.

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