Where: Willen Lake, Milton Keynes,
What: Women's Running 10k Race
At last I competed in a race! At the ripe old age of 40-something I not only took part in my first race but came 11th! Around 300 women finished the race and I came 11th in a sub 50 minute time. 49:23 to be precise. Not my best time, but not bad since I had to overcome the most dreadful nerves.
Here's my race journey, as best as I can remember it.
Before the start the pace makers made themselves known. I started to approach the sub50 team but then had second thoughts as very few women went with them, and the few who did were proper club runners after serious times. Sheepishly I sidled back to the sub55 group but eventually decided to run between the two and see what happened. Not long after the start I was comfortably running with the sub 50 group and really enjoying running with company. After almost 5k I decided to pick up the pace a bit as I felt very comfortable and as though I wasn't quite running at my usual speed. Fiona the pace maker was encouraging about that so off I went. After that it got a bit lonely as I was around 500m behind the leaders (I think the winner came in at just over 40 minutes) and no one else went off with me so it was especially great to see my 2 girlies and Rosie cheering me on at the 5k mark.
Half way, I think
Just over half way a well-meaning spectator let me know I was in 11th place and at that point my nerves went crazy. A tight, sickening feeling in my stomach and legs like jelly. It was simply my mind doubting all my training and saying 'This can't be right- you're not really any good at sport. Someone's made a mistake and you're not actually going to keep this up'. All I can say is the next 6km were hell. It was such a struggle to keep going and all I could do was focus on keeping moving- running faster or anything like that was just not going to happen. There were a couple of slightly slippy bits too which I had to take extra care over as I knew a fall would mean a trip to hospital for a spine x-ray.
Painfully, I hung on counting down each marker then panicking that I wouldn't see the finish line and would just keep going for another lap! After what seemed an eternity there was the finish line not too far off! The time on the clock reproached me for being off my training pace but the adrenaline kicked in then and I sprinted for the finish.
Over the finish line!
Over the line I just cried and cried. A mixture of elation, relief, adrenaline and frustration that I hadn't run faster. Once I'd pulled myself together I found Fiona who had been one of the sub 50 pacemakers. She had been so encouraging it was important to me to say thank you. She was great and said that I am a natural runner and handled the race really well.
Post race interview with the fab Fiona
So it seems that at my advanced age I am good at sport and could even make something of myself as a runner! To get better will mean putting up with some tough training so I'm going to join a club even though I can't commit to a club's weekly schedule. Tough training a couple of times every other week is better than not at all and I think it will help me mentally too.
The best things I have taken from the race:
*I am proud of my achievement
*I can do sport
*I don't hate my body nearly so much- there were really athletic women who do triathlons and run competitively a lot and they have wobbly bits and cellulite too and they are beautiful.
* I WANT TO RACE AGAIN!
And I will definitely be doing this race again next year.
Race reports should be up here soon: http://wr10k.co.uk/21014-races/willen-lake-milton-keynes/