This weekend, I accomplished a huge personal achievement: I ran (and finished) my first ever 10k race. Not just any race, Nike’s We Own The Night – a women’s only 10k run at night in Victoria Park. I never thought I’d say this, but… it may have been one of the funnest Saturday nights I’ve ever had in London.
As regular readers of Alex Loves will know, I’ve recently become a bit of a running fanatic – I’m still not very good at it, but I’m doing it and I’m loving it. Over the past few months I’ve been working hard towards this 10k goal and was surprised how quickly I reached it once I started training regularly. Nike’s We Own The Night was the perfect opportunity to test how far I’ve come from being a couch potato to completing an actual race.
As first times go, I couldn’t have picked a better one to start with. We Own The Night felt a bit like a boutique festival, without the alcohol or moshpits, but with 7000 women of all ages and capabilities together with the same goal – to run that 10k and have fun doing so. The village was set up to look like a boutique festival, with tents and DJ’s, beanbags, (healthy) food and drink and a generally happy atmosphere. Seeing thousands of girls in matching neon orange tops and flashing armbands was definitely a sight I’ll always remember, I’m pretty sure we could be seen from space.
We had a group warm up and some encouraging words from the likes of Paula Ratcliffe and ELLE editor-in-chief Lorraine Candy, before heading to the starting point. Because this was my first time I was pretty nervous and didn’t quite know what to expect. I fell into the trap which everyone warned me about and made the rookie mistake of starting off way too fast. When you’re in the middle of such a huge group, you can’t help but being sucked into their pace, which was way faster than my usual speed. By the time I reached 3k, I was done, kaput – I’d tried too hard and I felt like I simply couldn’t any more. I’d promised myself not to walk, but I did for a very short while before I went off again. By this time the mass had thinned out and I was finally surrounded by girls who ran my pace.
I can’t say the rest of the race went smoothly – being overtaken by the first runner on her second lap when I barely reached 4k wasn’t very encouraging – but I have to give credit to the DJ’s and cheering crowds around the track, they absolutely pulled me through when I thought I couldn’t. By the time I got to my second lap, I finally reached a comfortable pace and ran at a good speed until the end. Reaching the end was surprisingly emotional, and I broke down sobbing when I spotted my buddy Camille waiting for me with 2 glasses of Prosecco: 2 months ago I could barely reach the end of my street, and somehow I’d just run 10 kilometers. It was the most overwhelming and satisfying moment ever, and it made all the pain of recent weeks completely worth it.
By then it was completely dark and the village had this proper festival vibe to it – we danced for a while before taking my tired legs home for a well-deserved sleep. Going for a 10k on a Saturday night wouldn’t have been my idea of fun a while ago, but now I can honestly say We Own The Night was by far one of the best nights out I’ve had in a long time – and no hangover the day after! The women-only environment made it less competitive, more friendly and empowering, there was a real sense of camaraderie amongst us. My official race time was 1hr18mins (although my RunKeeper app says the course was a lot longer, so my time would have been less – I’m going with that one), which is still mighty slow, but leaves me plenty of space for improvement!
Thank you Nike for putting up such a great, well organised event, but most of all thank you to my lovely friend Camille, whose encouragement got me through it. Well done on your PB of 59mins!
If I can do it, so can you – I promise. Now just go and run!
Playing around with the Sequence Shot feature on the HTC One
The reward: Pancakes & Bellini’s the day after.
(all images my own except top image ©Getty)