I have this blog thing here and I haven’t written on it for ages, etc.
Yesterday I ran the Royal Berkshire 10k, a race with the same starting line as the Reading Half Marathon, but which then heads into the countryside instead of the town.
I haven’t run that distance since last September when the ENTIRELY UPHILL Windsor 10k nearly killed me. And I’ve had very few runs that didn’t involve a certain amount of walking, which disappoints me every time but my legs and my head gang up on me until I stop running. However I did manage a 5 mile run a few weeks ago (with walks) so I was pretty confident I could manage the distance, one way or another.
In the end I had a brilliant time, and I think it was largely in the preparation. So I had a longish (for me) run on Tuesday, followed by nothing for the rest of the week. I ate mountains of pasta and drank no beer or wine but plenty of water on Saturday, and spent the day lazing around. I gathered my favourite bits of running kit around me, supplemented with the “free” t-shirt which was a hideous shade of pink, and happily Bernard was invited to a birthday party, freeing Pete up to come and be my support team.
It was a beautiful day for it, not too hot, bit of a breeze. I was somewhat perturbed by the crazy long queue for the loos at the start, but they delayed the race until it had cleared so I needn’t have worried. Despite mounting nervousness, and telling Pete I really didn’t enjoy this sort of thing and wasn’t sure I should have signed up for it, there was a helpfully cheerful atmosphere around me. Standing in the crowd waiting to go, a friend came and gave me a hug, so I started with a smile on my face.
The first mile was entirely taken up with staring around at the spectacle, and then I noticed my friend running alongside me so we had a bit of a chat. As we left the business park and headed uphill over the motorway bridge, I left her behind, and focused on the 75 minute pacer about 100 metres ahead of me. I would be perfectly happy if I made it in 75 minutes, so I resolved to maintain that distance behind the pacer. My headphones were in (the Puppini Sisters christmas album, it’s incongruous but a good pace for running) and the voicelet told me I’d already run two miles before I even started to think about how difficult it was all going to be. Traditionally the first two miles are the hardest for me, so I took this to be a very good sign.
Ahead of me I could see the line of pink and blue runners snaking around a field and up over another motorway bridge. Yes, we were issued with pink tshirts for girls and blue for boys, as I discovered on arrival. I wouldn’t have worn my pink if I’d known that was the deal. Apparently it was a rainbow coloured run, but quite the sexist rainbow, really. So three miles approached and I rather hoped there would be a water station soon, but there was no sign. I hate to carry a bottle, and was just starting to feel a little bit dry. Everything else seemed in order, with occasional, ignorable requests from my legs to stop and walk for a bit. I figured I could walk for a few minutes when I got my water.
We crossed the bridge on one lane of the road, with cars passing on the other lane – clapping and cheering us on, it really helps! Then there was a fabulous winding downhill section with lakes behind the trees, interesting houses to look at, and The Cardigans in my ears.
The water station appeared at the 6km mark, complete with a man with a tannoy yelling “half way there, half way to go,” the annoying mathematical inexactitude of which carried me through the next half mile. By this time I had caught up with the pacer, and with the criss-crossing at the water station, I lost her somewhere, and figured I might as well carry on without (never did catch up with the 70 minute pacer though). My legs felt very happy, no twinges, no grumbles, and now a water bottle to hold for a while gave me something to think about. I was actually passing people who had stopped to walk by this time, but we were coming up to mile 5 and it seemed pointless to stop and walk now, so I encouraged them along as I passed. I hope this didn’t annoy them (the lady stumbling wearily up the railway bridge didn’t seem too happy to be encouraged).
Over the bridge we went, and back down into the business park, with something from Different Class in my head clashing with the samba band. The movement of people playing samba reminds me of zombies, so that gave me something to look at in a weird fascinated way. Last mile, one of Pete’s songs playing gave me the boost that I needed as my brain and legs accidentally reconnected and let me know I was starting to tire. But I knew I was going to see the finish line at any moment – round the next bend – or the next… Remembering how long the last straight section had felt at Windsor I had a moment of doubt, before being cheered into the final straight and seeing the finish far closer than I had expected – so I cheered up and sped up as I watched the timer tick just over 1:15:00 – and it was done.
Pete found me, bubbling over about how good it had been. Walk? Me?! I ran the whole 10k and it felt great. Official chip time was 1:13:03 so not quite a PB but I really, really don’t mind. Now, what’s next?
I am in this picture, but it’s a bit of a Where’s Wally.