Running 2010 – Race for Life, Silverstone

Wednesday, 9th June 2010 – 10K Race for Life, Silverstone

So finally 9th of June rolled around and all the training I had done was going to either pay off and I might be able to call myself a runner, or I was going to be horribly shown up as a fraud and end up being the last woman to finish the 2010 Race for Life, running round Silverstone in the gathering gloom all on my own… I left work early, getting home around 5.30 and sat and thought for a while. Eventually, I resigned myself to the fact that I had to do it and went and changed into my running gear, fastened on my race number (42) and headed out to Silverstone. As in previous years there was quite a queue of cars trying to get in, but because we know the place well, Lynne and I were soon parked up. I left her sitting in the car and walked the rest of the way in (around 10-15 minutes), trying to set a reasonable pace to warm up. The weather, which had been atrocious all afternoon, had cleared a bit, and it was now cloudy but not wet, with temperatures at a comfortable 17°C.

This year we all gathered in the support race paddock rather than on the start line because the organisers needed to keep the 10k runners separate from the 5k runners/wheelchair users/walkers/buggy pushers/three-legged racers, etc. so that we (the 10kers) could set off ahead of the others and not have to fight our way through. I met a very nice fellow 10k runner from a local running club and we meandered our way through the warm-up, both keen to get on with it as soon as possible. The event was scheduled for a 7pm start but it NEVER starts on time in my experience. Eventually, after a lot of hanging around while participants were still streaming in (and someone tried to bring in a motorcycle racing truck only to give up and turn round and go back out), we were taken out to the start and at 7.35, we were finally on the start line ready to go. I put my iPod on, started my HRM so I could get my time and try and keep to a sensible pace, and we were off. I settled in and just concentrated on getting through the first 10 minutes, letting myself run in time to the music and trying as ever to get my breathing sorted and steady.

The first kilometre marker came up and I checked the watch only to see that I was there inside 6 minutes, which was way faster than I’d intended to go. I was a not worried that I would pay for it at the end and not make the sub-65 minutes I was hoping for. However, I didn’t feel as if I was going too fast (and lots of people were way faster). I checked again at the 2k post and was still faster than I’d planned, so I figured if I started to struggle I would just walk for a minute or so. 3k and it was still going well, and at 4k I spotted Lynne sitting in the grandstand just beyond Abbey and we waved at each other. I was feeling OK, still inside my intended pace and coming round to start my second lap. This was the crunch point – there was a head wind down the straight and it was hard going, but I tucked in behind two other women whose pace was similar and got through it, not giving in to the temptation to dive into the finish area and quit. Instead I found myself making for the water station and grabbing two cups, one to drink and the other that I poured straight over my head. I was good to go for lap 2 and the first 5k was inside 30 minutes (29:11) so maybe, just maybe, a sub-60 minutes was possible. Some of the 5k runners were finishing their race as I crossed the line to go round again, and I did suffer a brief moment of jealousy, but then I just got my head down and got on with it.

Second time around was much harder and I did take two walk breaks, but I was keeping an eye on the clock and was still in good shape, hitting the 7k mark at just under 42 minutes, and then it got interesting, because up ahead was what looked like a solid wall of (mainly pink) humanity, the tail end of the 5k participants, spread across the track and I was going to have to find a way through. Again I let someone else do a lot of the work, a blonde-pigtailed runner whose pace was slightly faster than mine, and who seemed to be able to get the crowds to part better than I could. I waved at Lynne again at the 8k point, but then had to concentrate on staying out of trouble, taking to the kerbs, the rumble strips and even the grass at times as I passed people walking, people holding hands and going 5-abreast and all sorts of traffic. By now I’d lost my trail-blazer so I was having to find my own way, which I realised was easier if I allowed my breathing to get a lot louder!

With 500 metres left I was now running out of reserves and it was also slightly uphill, which I could have done without. But I could see the finish line and I tried to put a bit of a sprint on, finally staggering over the line in 60 minutes and 13 seconds, which was slightly disappointing despite being much faster than I’d thought I could manage. From there it was off to collect my medal, my goodie bag and a much-needed bottle of water, before setting off to find Lynne (we’d arranged to meet back at the car). I was still able to walk faster than most people and even ran the last few hundred yards back to the car, wrapped myself in a fleece, and drove to the pub, where the first pint of bitter went down in about 5 minutes. The second one was accompanied by a chicken korma and rice, an onion bhaji, a poppadom AND a mini naan bread, it being curry night. I topped that off with a syrup sponge pudding and custard before we went home, where I had a quick shower, a glass of port and fell into bed, happy but tired.

Thanks to everyone who has put up with me obsessing about training plans, and generally being very self-centred about the training. Thanks to Lynne for putting up with me hardly being home, never stopping talking about my training, and bringing home piles of hideously sweaty kit for washing. Thanks to Cancer Research UK for giving me a cause close to my heart, and for whom I have this year raised nearly £400. Thanks to Doctor Feelgood for the album “Oil City Confidential” which has proved to be my perfect running album.

So, what’s next? Well, maybe a triathlon… Watch this space!

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