Yesterday was race day.
First off, I want to thank everyone who donated money and those who wished me luck.
I’ve been running for a few years now but nothing really prepares you for your first race – even one that is designed to raise money for charity and raise awareness of men’s health issues over ultra-competitiveness.
As Debbie and I pulled into the car park I suddenly wished that I’ve trained harder, ran more miles on the road as opposed to sticking to a treadmill. I surveyed the competition warming up and picked out the lycra-clad beanpole thin experienced runners, the over-branded tracksuit posers and the recreational runners.
I pinned my race number (10) to my t-shirt after signing in and went for a quick jog to warm up. Thankfully it was a really clear and crisp day in Peterborough’s picturesque Ferry Meadows with very little wind.
It wasn’t long before we were asked to move to the start line. I was a little further away that most of the runners and ended up near the back of the field. After some brief instruction on the course that I didn’t really catch the starter pistol went and we started moving forward slowly.
It took a little while to really get going by the time the field thinned out and I finally managed to start my heart rate monitor’s lap timer which was on one wrist with my Nike+ equipped iPod on the other to measure my pace.
I had to slow myself down a few times as I was well ahead of the 5:00min/km pace that I’d set myself. I found myself running quite happily at around 4:30min/km but I didn’t want to get half way round and collapse.
In retrospect I would have done a lot more road running. I do 6km four times a week (two sessions being 7.5/10mph HIIT) on a treadmill but it’s not really the same as running outdoors. I would actually say that I found it much easier to run outside if only because you’re not staring at a wall trying not to think about the fact that you’re putting one foot in front of the other for a long and relatively painful duration.
I moved through the field quite quickly. I found myself passing a few of those over-branded tracksuit posers with beanie hats and iPod arm bands panting hard and struggling by the 2km mark.
Passing confused dog walkers was quite fun. “Chilly Willy?” seemed to be their only statement on surveying our race numbers. Thankfully they kept out of the way as I didn’t fancy tumbling over an errant Spaniel.
I had settled into a nice comfortable pace with my heart pounding away at a reasonable 175bpm and I felt I could do it all day which was probably because I was coming up to the 4km marker.
With the finish line in sight I picked up the pace and sprinted past it. I was handed my race medal and ‘goody bag’ which contained a bottle of water which I opened immediately.
I felt that I could have definitely done it a lot faster as I didn’t feel that I’d pushed myself hard enough even though I was happy to have finished in one piece and able to stand. The race times are going to be posted on the charity’s website in a few days but I glanced at the official’s clipboard and saw my time at 26 minutes which wasn’t too bad as it took a few minutes to hit my stride. The fastest runner on the day completed it in just over 16 minutes which is amazing. Apparently the pace cyclist had trouble keeping up with him.
I was greeted at the finish line by Debbie, her sister Jacqueline complete with her three boys and Jacqueline and Debbie’s dad, Ken, who came with his partner Yvonne. They had all given me fantastic support and encouragement before the race which really set me up and I can’t thank them enough.
I won a prize for raising the most money so thank you once again everyone who donated.
Life has a neat way of connecting disparate elements into a single whole. The charity, Action4Mens Health which organized the race is led by Janine Nethercliffe and Chris Dawson both of whom are consultant urologists at a local hospital. Chris Dawson was the surgeon that operated on Ken and Yvonne now works with him at the hospital.
The race was very well organized and the marshals did a great job of cheering on the runners. Hopefully the race will grow and we’ll see more and more runners attend.
They are holding another race later in the year and I’ll definitely do it again. I can’t describe what a buzz you get from completing a race no matter how slow or how short the distance. If you don’t already run, get a pair of decent running shoes and sign up for a 5k – you really won’t regret it.