Ever since my time in BA (did I mention I went to Buenos Aires? Yep? Oh…) I’ve been nursing a secret goal to run a half marathon in the spring… However, I’d never actually done a running race before and a half marathon didn’t seem to be the ideal place to learn. So, last Sunday, I raced my first ever 10k at the Jill Oliver 10k through the Lee Valley Regional Park and I loved it.
Although a run a fair amount (well, a couple times a week) I had no idea what to expect from the race with little experience behind me, other than a couple of park runs. Some emailing with Claire (thank you!) gave me the goals to carb up a bit, not push the workouts too much the days in the lead up to the race (I was ill so that was no issue) and not to rush it off the start. I did as told ;)
My aim was sub 55 minutes but what I really wanted was race experience, to learn about pacing and to enjoy it. At 10.30am I found myself on the start line chatting away to a lovely lady who was aiming for a 40something time and was doing her last race before a hernia operation. Blimey. But even she recommended not to speed off the start!
Anyhow, off we went. The route was a predominately flat and multi-terrain loop, along a canal and through some beautiful countryside – how I wish I’d been able to take photos! The first 4k felt pretty heavy as my legs seemed to be taking a while to get going and most of my concentration was spent dodging both people and puddles along the canal path.
Once I hit 4k though it all seemed to get easier, like I was starting anew.
Just before the 5k mark there was a water station and I found myself trying to hard not to laugh at all the volunteers having a massive row about recycling (never put an eco-warrier on a water station!). It was then I realised something significant. I was having fun. I was racing with no numbers other than my heart rate and little expectations other than a rough, slightly random, goal that I’d set myself (my Parkrun goal doubled, with 5 minutes added on…).
From this point on I found myself targeting each kilometre marker. My breathing was steady and my legs were feeling pretty strong – even on the slippery grass section.
There was one moment of doubt… I found myself thinking “I’m not a runner”. But then I realised, I may not be a runner but if I’ve learnt anything in my life it’s that I’m a fighter and I can do this.
And then it was the 8km marker! I picked up the pace a little, starting to recognise my surroundings.
9km marker. I could feel everyone around me starting to get excited and I knew my legs had more to give, so off we went. Then we rounded a corner to be greeted by a bloody hill. It was only a small slope but it sure felt like a mountain! Finally it was to the track to do the final 500m and I gave it everything I had left! Spent.
I did it! 51.56! 104th out of 226, or 22nd female out of 91.
And it felt great. I don’t have a Garmin so I have no clue of my splits but from listening to my body I felt like I got faster as the race went on, and more confident too it must be said, and I definitely caught up lots of the people who overtook me at the beginning – one guy even came up and shook my hand after! It was an incredible day, with such lovely people and volunteers too. I can’t wait for the next one now!
What was your first race?