I’m a runner.
This time last week I’d have been unqualified to say that. You could have probably had me pulled over by the running ombudsman and challenged that my occasional run/walk around country lanes signified nothing more than attempted running.
But this weekend I crossed a line, well two lines really – a start and a finish, although technically they were in the same place. Taking part in the Buckingham 10km ‘fun’ run (insert suitable sarcastic put down) has gifted me the clout to call myself a runner. I have a medal and a certificate and everything.
I can’t say it was easy, or fun, or actually in the least bit enjoyable. Thanks to a scuppered ‘training plan’ the furthest I’d ever run prior to this was 4.2 miles and within 500 metres of the start line I realised that I’d made a terrible mistake and let my running buddies peel off into the distance. Know your limits, that’s my (running) motto; there was no point in trying to match anyone stride for stride so I settled into a very comfortable position otherwise known as ‘the back’.
I ran. It was slow but it was still a run, and clawed my way to 3km where the terrain changed and I could very easily have got away with claiming to have gone over on my ankle and needed to walk it out. Somehow I carried on, reminding myself that in fact I hadn’t really run very far yet. By 5km I was cursing everyone who’d ever encouraged me to run, whilst mentally kicking myself for not taking note of my own motto – 5km is an exceptionally respectable distance to run, I should have stuck to it.
I hit my ‘wall’ between 5 and 6km. You long distance runners may mock, but had it not been open countryside I’d have been very tempted to dive behind a hedge at this point and die a slightly knackered death. As it was I ‘allowed’ lots of people to pass me as I gripped my thigh in a manner that suggested I might have suffered an injury – I’ve seen them do this at the Olympics, and on the football pitch…it’s a highly effective method of garnering sympathy and catching your breath. It worked, very soon I was even further back than I had been previously and able to move again.
Out of nowhere came the banner for 7km, I was euphoric, or oxygen starved, either way I had a moment of hope where I began to believe I might make it. This died as the road-that-went-on-for-ever stretched ahead of me and the realisation hit that the fastest finishers would probably be home by now enjoying bacon sandwiches and hot showers. I looked out hopefully for 8km but it never came, just my endless gasps for breath punctuated by my running mantra…it went a bit like Hi-ee-yoooo….don’t ask me why, but it kept me going.
And then – 9km! 9km!!!! I laughed, I probably cheered a little – 9km! I WAS going to make it, there was no doubt – just this killer hill to get up and over then a smooth cruise back into the town, followed by another (WHAT?!) hill to the finish line. But hello adrenaline and endorphins! The last 500metres felt brilliant, I picked up speed, relaxed, channelled every ‘proper’ runner I’ve ever known and lolloped over the finish line one hour, four minutes and 30-something-seconds after I’d started. I’ll take that thanks very much.
You’d think I’d know better than to do it again. So why, when this woman suggested we do the Bicester 10km on December 13th did I say “Oh go on then!” ???
And, for the record? Women do sweat….