Done and Dusted: The end of my virginity.

Well it ‘s the day after the day before and on the day before I ran my first race, the Race for Life 5k in Carlisle.

I had my kit all laid out from the night before, but changed everything the next morning! I decided that being comfortable was far more important than wearing the pink that the event called for (here women’s cancer research is symbolised by the use of pink in their advertising and so events call for women to dress up in pink and as flamboyantly as possible!) I did, however, stick with my pink compression socks.

We arrived early and parked up nearby before it got too busy. In reality I didn’t have that long to wait before families started arriving and the local radio station started broadcasting the warm up. I wasn’t going to do the warm up, intending to stick instead to my routine walk, but I got caught up in the atmosphere of the event and found myself doing a workout to some dodgy 70’s disco music before I knew where I was!

Both husband Grant and son Ben had volunteered to help with the running of the event. Ben asked to be involved at the end, handing out goody bags to the finishers, whilst Grant somehow became the back marker, walking the course to make sure that no one was left behind.

In my eagerness to get started I forgot all about my husband and son and as soon as the runners flag went up I went and dutifully lined up behind it. They were left to see me disappearing off and not see me to wish me luck. I guess I didn’t feel I needed it, but I do regret not even just turning around to say see you later! I was in the zone by then, focused on my race.

At 11am the starting hooter blasted out and I started off about six off the front and stuck to my music determined pace (thanks to BeatSync and Jeff Galloway). I was overtaking people from the start, but never got close to the front runners – not that I was really expecting that! After four minutes of running at pace Jeff told me to walk. The first call for the walk break was a toughie; we were still running the circumference of the field and people were cheering and clapping us on. Suddenly I stopped running and was very self conscious. What were they thinking? Could this woman not even run for a few minutes before she had to stop? However, before I knew it, I was off running again and passing those that had passed me as I walked. If anything that is a great bonus of the run-walk system, you aren’t really aware of being overtaken when you are walking but very aware of flying passed people when you start running again. It’s a great psychological boost. I yoyoed with fellow runners like this for the entire way round, starting to recognise backs as I overtook them and as they overtook me.

The course consisted of mainly grass and the ground was soft after a very heavy thunderstorm the day before, which just zaps your leg energy. When I ran on the little bit of tarmac there was it was a huge relief. I knew early on that I would be lucky to run a 30 minute race. The weather was, by then, very warm and there was little shade. These aren’t excuses; this is how it was.

Once I was back on the start field again and I could see the finish gate I just ignored Jeff’s instructions to walk and ran through the slower music at my race pace. The sight of the finish really does spur you on and, on this course, you could see it for the entire last kilometer!

I crossed the line in 30:12 and was very happy with that. After collecting my medal and goody bag from my son (which was wonderful) and then having all sorts of strange things thrust into my hands by people I went to sit in the shade and cool down. I didn’t know anyone else running that day and my supporters were busy, so I had my own company for a while. I updated Facebook and then had the company of another solo runner, Kimberley from Barnard Castle. She too was running her first race and we chatted for a while about running. It was nice to have someone similar to talk to as our red faces became slowly less red! She had logged the race on GPS and thought it was 5.55km. I’m not so sure. She was using a Nike+ chip in her shoe and I’ve heard that these aren’t so reliable. Maybe it needed calibrating? All I know is that when I switched Jeff off in the finishing straight he was telling me I had just a few metres left.

So that’s it. I am no longer a race virgin! I have the bling and the photos to prove it and an overwhelming sense of personal achievement. And also a perverse desire to do that again!

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