Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park 10k - by Tracey Melville

It's been a while since I've felt so good going into a race and last Saturday has to go down as my best, so far this year. Back in October at the Eagles birthday quiz & party I was lucky enough to win 5 entries to the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park Winter 10k series, held on the first Saturday of each month. At the time I was slightly worried that I would now have to run all of them! But raffle man Hardy pointed out I could give them to friends. So that's what I did, rounding up a few members of the pluckie crew (some names stick Kelvin) together with my sister in training for first VLM, I put our names down for the last one of the Winter series. Then that strange thing that always seems to happen, happened. I entered another race - this was the Fullers Thames Towpath 10. I've never done a 10 mile race, so it was something new to attempt in 2017. Fast forward to early March and I am halfway through my training for the 10 miler and this 10k slotted in very nicely. I've been mixing up my training with cross training for the first time, although this did involve me signing up to a gym -something I said I'd never do again. However, this time round I go to the gym with a purpose and not to prance around, then sit in a steam room. I've got a job to do; strength, cross, abs, stretch, even the 'dreadmill' to knock out some of the miles in an attempt to save my mature knees or more likely poor running style. So back to Her maj's lovely park and what a lovely place it really is. It seems incredible that nearly 5 years ago, it was emerging from nothing to host the unforgettable 2012 London Olympics and today it is still being used and inspiring so many to participate in sport at some level. There's even a football club there 😉.  Meeting up with the pluckies + 1 at various points between Northfields and Stratford, we arrived in good time to collect race packs, pin our numbers to our thighs (this was a new one on me), drop our bags, then line up with everyone to hear tales from the MC about his marathon career starting back in 1981. Mr MC then decided we needed rehearse our finish line hands in the air & SMILE. We had to do this a few times until he was satisfied we had understood, then threw a few shapes in an attempt to warm up - star jumps - why?? And we were finally off. Three laps of the course, mostly flat, a few undulations, criss crossing bridges and repeat. My target was to get near 75 mins as that would have knocked off a good chunk from my last 10k back in December when I was still run/walking. After two laps and checking in with my garmin, I thought, I've got this - sub 70. At 8k I was flagging a little and my sister offered up a jelly baby. It did the trick and I powered home to finish in 68:33. A 10k PB. I was delighted. We all thoroughly enjoyed the race, oohed and ahhed over our shiny sparkly red finisher medals and celebrated with a hot cuppa and slice of my banana bread and other treats. It's now Monday and I'm still on a high, so I thought I'd share with you all. I'm now looking forward to Towpath 10, where a PB is already in the bag. Thank you to my lovely running buddies Roz, Carol, Teresa for joining me at Stratford and my sister Rose who I made an honorary eagle for the day.