Yesterday, Facebook Memories reminded me that it was the nine year anniversary of my first ten kilometre race.
I wasn’t A Runner back then, of course. I led a much less healthy lifestyle which mainly revolved around watching repeats of Airline with my idiot ex-boyfriend whilst getting legless on supermarket real ale, then ordering Domino’s. But I wasn’t a complete couch potato because occasionally I would sober up and catch the bus to the gym (yes, the bus. To go a whole mile) and perform a little routine of 15 minutes run/walk on the treadmill, 15 minutes on the cross trainer, 15 minutes on the static bike and 15 minutes sodding about with weights and sit ups. And once a year I did a Race For Life. Race For Life is a informal 5km women-only race organised by Cancer Research – it’s popular with families, walkers, people dressed in pink tutus, etc, and it’s not the sort of event where you ever have to worry about being last. Even in these days of slovenliness, I didn’t find RFL very challenging, and then as now, I bloody hate pink, especially when used as a “Women’s Thing” colour. So when I saw a sign advertising “Run10k” at the 2009 Race for Life 20- a turquoise sign – I thought it seemed like a good idea. I imagined it would just be like a double length RFL, with no gender restrictions and no pink.
I was very wrong. I arrived in Finsbury Park – where else – on the morning of 19th September 2009 to find (according to my Facebook update) “a bunch of Paula Radcliffes”. I took one photo, as follows. I would have taken more, but I had no idea that I’d be blogging about this in nine years’ time. How could I have known where this was heading?
I recall that it was also a very small bunch of Paula Radcliffes. I was there with my friend Kaz, who was a lot fitter than I was (she was training for a marathon at the time) but even she looked a bit daunted by it. I remember setting off from the start line, which was at the top of the “gentle incline” from Finsbury parkrun, then down the hill, then up the steep hill and being horrified that absolutely NO ONE was walking. Even up the hill. I remember getting left behind really quickly and struggling to run/walk a lot faster than I was used to. The route was two laps of the park and it seemed like a lot of the runners had finished before I reached halfway. Thankfully, there was a man with a bandaged leg and crutches walking the course and knowing that I wasn’t last spurred me on to complete my second lap, even though there was no one else in sight, and one of the marshals asked me if I was still in the race because I was clearly moving at “walking to the bus stop” pace.
This is what I had to say to Facebook after the race:
Back in those days I didn’t even have a smartphone, and I don’t think I knew what a Garmin was, so the only result I got was from the clock on the finish line and I’ve long since forgotten it (ie. blotted out the memory) though I suspect it was well over ninety minutes. I do remember that Kaz finished in 1:15 and I thought that this was an absolutely amazing speed of light Mo Farah on amphetamines kind of time and that she was probably going to win her marathon. I wonder what I’d have said if you told me then that I would be that “fast” in a few years’ time and that actually I’d still be coming last in races and that actual people I know would be running sub 45 10ks.
A rummage in the Medal Box under the bed revealed that I still have the medal from this extravaganza. And what a crap medal it is.
It was three years before I did another ten kilometre race!