So… yesterday was a momentous occasion if you are a) me, b) my legs, c) my medal collection or d) someone who is forced to listen to me rambling on about running…
IT WAS MY FIRST 10K RACE!
And look at the precious, precious medal (excuse red run face):
Honestly I didn’t take it off until I turned the light out to go to sleep, and that was only through fear that I might knock my teeth out on it in the night. It’s massively heavy and important-looking, you see. Because of all the mad skills required to earn it.
So here’s how it happened.
My friends Sam, Carole and Corina (who I’ve met through the Sweatshop running club) and I drove up to Milton Keynes in a flurry of nerves and flapjacks. We knew we were getting nearer as the people on the street started to look more and more sporty (and frankly a bit intimidating – if you have a running rucksack, you make me nervous). We also spotted a ’13 mile’ marker – if we saw this again, we’d definitely run the wrong way! (There was a 5k, half marathon and 20 mile option too).
It was FREEZING standing on the starting line with hundreds of other 10k-ers, and we had the age-old runners’ debate about whether to keep on hoodies/jackets. I kept on my H&M jacket, which I came to regret…
Then we were off – and I heard my first official starting gun (they don’t tend to bother with 5ks). It was all very crowded for a while, but we managed to keep together before settling into our natural paces. Corina is a bit of a hare, and tore off into the distance looking strong. Carole took the lead for the three of us, and I kept with her and Sam until about the 2k marker, when I dropped back a little. I saw quite a few people walk-running from 1k, which surprised me as there was still a long way to go! I managed to get to 4k before having to walk a little bit myself – the flu I had in February had set me back more than I thought.
I found the race tough, mentally as well as physically. For one thing, as a Fen-dweller I’m not super comfortable with hills, and this one had a real stinker at 9k (of all places!) so I felt quite anxious waiting for that. Plus psychologically, although I know I’m not very fast, there’s something disappointing about watching other people skip into the distance as I plod along – although I guess I need to just get used to that…or do some speed work.
The route was interesting, with lots of twists and turns and plenty of green space. I got very hot in my jacket, but couldn’t unzip it because of my race number, it’s definitely approaching spring now. There were a few enthusiastic bystanders, including one man who was offering high fives that promised to give us more energy (not entirely sure this worked, but it did distract me).
At last it was time for the dreaded hill – wow, it was steep. I (stupidly) decided to run up it, as I thought the finishline was nearer than it actually was… I had to get my breath back at the top! Then a few more cattlegrids, twists and turns later, and I got to run the gauntlet of the finish. I was so pleased to stop!
The medal is a thing of beauty – it’s currently on my bedside table to motivate me every morning.
In summary, the race was tough. But I loved going with my new friends, and the high afterwards. I think it wouldn’t have been so difficult (excuses, excuses) if my training hadn’t been interrupted by illness, and I’m looking forward to my next races, and getting in some serious miles between them.