I wouldn’t class myself as a runner. Not really.
Sure, I’m tall and stringy and I’ll run like a man possessed from time to time. But over the weekend I came to the realisation: one does not simply run a 10k in under 40 minutes. Not without dedication, training, and an interest in distance running.
For some at the Brighton10k, running was a way of life. They weren’t just built like runners, they’d spent hours a week altering their own body composition to deal with the rigours of a road race.
They were kitted right too, headbands, arm straps, running watches, compression leggings, high-end creps** — they looked the part.
**Cool word for shoes.
So what must we have looked like, rocking up 1 minute before the gun, having already jogged from the station car park, down past the pier.
Especially as I myself was kitted in a Halo5 cotton T (with my (now) 7-year-old Karrimor sports top hidden beneath) and cheapy running shoes, in danger of falling to bits at any point.
It’s almost like I’m giving myself excuses not to do well. So after the race I can be like, “Ahhh well! I was victim to several unavoidable disadvantages after all!” – totally how I’d phrase it.
So we got there, just in time and split up. I’d registered my expectation to pull off a sub-40 in my race application so they stuck me at the front, surrounded by serious-faced athletes — as if to say: “good luck m8, you’ll do just fine…”
And for the most part, I stayed with them. It was the most painful run I’ve ever done.
In the Hastings 1/2 marathon, Lucy and I started at the back of the pack, energised by each runner we breezed past (as well as the incredible atmosphere).
This time I was alone among runners who’d clearly raced a 10k or two before. The only noise, their breathing down my neck, broken up by the occasional awkward bout of applause from an enthusiastic Mum in the otherwise silent crowd of onlookers.
Becca described the feeling like a march to war. A sombre wave of respect for those about to risk their lives.
Along with the speedy pace and the boring course I was struggling mentally with nothing to divert my attention from my cold lungs, sore legs and laboured breathing.
Having overtaken about 20 runners in the first couple of kilometres I was already tiring at the halfway mark and I began to get passed by those I’d left behind at the start line.
One particular lady (who sounded close to death) was on my shoulder for about 2k until she finally pulled ahead. But thankfully after breaking through a pain barrier, I managed to retain the pace and stay with her and the runners ahead.
However, a little past the 8km mark I heard an announcement telling runners we’d been going for 36 minutes already. I had less than 4 minutes to reach the 9k mark AND clear the final kilometre.
It didn’t seem possible. And for those who’ve seen my Facebook wall, you’ll know I didn’t make it.
57 seconds off.
But I didn’t mind, because I’d worked hard for it. On the day at least!
If I’m honest I was just relieved I didn’t lose control of my bodily functions on the start/finish line. There’s a couple of pictures which illustrate this fear.
The sprint at the end may have been a gangly mess, but I discovered with 100m to go that my legs still had a lot left to give. Surrounded by spent runners I put my foot on the gas, and just like that I was back in Hastings, slotting my way through the pack to take at least 10 of the places I’d lost (including the annoying loud breather).
Hey, I know it’s not a ‘race’, but when you’ve got runners from team vegan ahead, you can’t let them beat you 😉
40:57 without a whole lot of training is a feat I’m proud of.
I had a quick look at the website and (turns out it IS a race, so there…) I came 251st. I mean… your guess is as good as mine right now, I have no idea if that’s good or not!
So I’ve had a think, and I reckon I CAN get a sub-40.
Doesn’t matter about the weather.
What I needed was a running buddy. Someone to push me that little bit further, or to pull me back when I start out too fast.
For the last 6 years, myself and Tom have been running (sporadically, granted) to the pier and back. It’s 5.8 miles (I think we calculated).
That’s 9.33km (thanks Google).
And we beat our pre-Uni record this year with a whopping 39:31.
If he hadn’t got injured, we’d probably have beaten it again. But with race conditions, a crowd cheering and that extra bit of drive, I think we could push my 40:57 10k under the 40-minute mark.
We’ll have to wait till after Thailand to see if that’s true. That’s when my marathon training starts.
I’d like to thank Becca for encouraging me to enter the Brighton10k. It may have been a pretty grim run, but it’s got me off my arse, off the gym bench and out experiencing and testing myself.
Also, it was a great excuse to eat excessive amounts of food after.
But although it’s inspired me to run more. For now the Halo5 T will be folded away and left, as final preparations are being made.
You know things are serious when you’ve got 32,000 Thai baht weighing down your pockets.
More on this soon. And maybe a little on how we’re planning on keeping fit on a diet of poor sleep, 50p beers and fried noodles.