I hate acronyms; their only function in life is to make people feel out of the loop, so I apologise for my title. I was just too excited to type the whole thing!
Today I ran the Race for Life in Carlisle for Cancer Research UK. I ran the same race last year, my first race since Nineteen Canteen when I was schoolgirl who could probably run much better than I can now. In fact I still have the school report that glamourised my cross-country prowess and suggested that I was a “promising 800m runner”. If only I’d kept it up. No, scratch that – I’d probably in line for a knee replacement or two by now!
A little more complacent than last year, hubbie and I arrived slightly later this time. We were greeted by the sight of the nearest car park filling up quickly and so chose to park a little further away and walk in. The walk gave me time to warm up properly and meant that we could escape at the end without waiting in queues of traffic.
When we eventually arrived at Sheepmount Stadium (we have the BEST named places round here!) I was one of around 3000 women, most dressed in pink, some dressed in tutus, feathers and hats! I felt slightly underdressed. Here you are meant to see a photo of me before the race, but it hit the cutting room floor when I saw too many podgy bits. Just imagine me.
I missed the warm up as I was queuing for the loo, not that it bothered me too much; I never warm up like I’m doing a bootcamp, so why start just before a race? As I watched people doing stretches and lunges I could just about hear hamstrings twanging. It’s not for me.
The organisers have this down to a fine art. Runners headed for a blue banner, labelled ‘Runners’ unsurprisingly, joggers and walkers to two other banners and those with wheels had their own starting gate. I was in the middle of the runners. The starting horn blasted at exactly 11am and we jogged off towards the start tunnel. I hit my Garmin and my Easy 5k app as I crossed the line.
My plans for starting easy and gradually cranking things up went quickly awry. I had forgotten just how much of the course is on grass. In my memory I remember running across the field from the start, circling to a path and then eventually returning the same way. What I omitted was the three other fields we ran through. Gulp!
My target pace was 9 minute miles. On the path, what little there was, this was a cinch. On the grass, soft, bouncy, rutted grass it was difficult. At times I could feel my footing giving way and I was fighting gravity. I was determined to run my full 4 minutes at a faster pace and then ‘rest’ on the minutes in-between. My plan was to take walk breaks to the last mile and then run to the finish, hopefully bringing my overall pace up. My only thought as to break my 30 minute 5k target.
- My first mile passed in 9:19. So long as I was under 10, that was fine. By mile 2 the grass running had taken it’s toll and I managed that one in 10:05. By the time Jeff told me that I had just once mile left my earphones were off and I was just running as fast as I could across the grass to the finish.
- I forgive the two girls who caught up with me in the finishing straight and overtook me at the line because I think I might be old enough to be their grandmother. Legally even. Sad, but true.
- I finished my last mile in 10:15, crossing the line in 28:16.6. The clock above the finish line said 28:11, but as my Garmin showed the course as just short of five kilometres I’d rather go with my data than theirs! I’m not quibbling over a few metres or a few seconds.
- So there we are! My time last year over the same course was 30:12. I knocked almost a full two minutes off that time, which is great.