Regular readers of my blog will know that for the past few months I’ve been doing a bit of running. Nothing special, just a few miles three or four times a week. So the weekend just gone marked something of a watershed moment – my first proper race! Yes, it was the long-awaited Bristol 10k. No hills. No muddy scrambles. And no having to stop to wait for the dog to finish rolling in something disgusting. Just six and a quarter miles of flat, traffic-free roads.
Obviously, I was nervous as hell. I was fairly confident I could run the distance, as I’ve covered 10k a couple of times already in training. But I’m not so good with new situations or crowds. Both of which the race brought in spades. But I had my race number, my race plan (Try to enjoy yourself. Try to finish in under an hour. And try not to get overtaken by anyone dressed as a piece of fruit.) and my support team*. So I was good to go. In fact, here I am…
I was towards the beginning of the first of two waves in the mass start, so there were all sorts of runners around me. Some were clearly quite experienced, very focused and hoping for a personal best. Others, like me, were less experienced and just hoping not to disgrace themselves in any way. And there were a lot of us. Somewhere north of nine thousand, in fact. Here come some of them now…
I found my pace fairly quickly, though the first couple of kilometres involved a lot of weaving in and out of slower runners and getting out of the way of faster ones. After that, however, I found myself in a group of people all going at roughly the same speed as me, which made things a lot easier. As did the huge crowds of people cheering us on, which gave me a real boost. Here’s me doing my thing… (Yes, I really am that ungainly. Sorry.)
My support team seemed to be zipping around the course about as quickly as I was, as she managed to catch me on camera on a number of occasions. She also seemed a little stunned that I wasn’t right at the back (as, to be honest, was I), but managed to wave and make encouraging noises. Though she did say afterwards that I didn’t look as knackered as I should have done, so clearly wasn’t running fast enough. Nice.
As you can see from the photo above, I finished the race and got my medal. I even managed a bit of a sprint down the home straight. And having covered the course in 56 minutes and 9 seconds, I was pleased with my time. (Although it sounds a little less impressive when I point out that came 4,375th!). But I enjoyed myself, I finished in under an hour, and I didn’t get overtaken by a single piece of fruit.
* A rather unimpressed Natalie, who had been planning on a lie-in until I realised that the first train into town was too late to get me to the start on time and that I’d need a lift. Typical comment from my support team: “Oh, I didn’t realise you were running in fancy dress.” I wasn’t.