A FEW weeks ago I joined Barnsley AC ladies competing at the National Road Relay Championships in Sutton Park.
We were racing against some very fast athletes of all ages and abilities. I think it’s fair to say we were a veteran team, up against the very best in the country, most of them much younger than us.
I was worried we might come last. In fact, I was very worried about this. But we didn’t. Everyone in the team ran the best they possibly could. We finished a very respectable 31st out of 40-something teams.
Just being part of the race was one of the best moments of my running career so far. In fact, the best. The sun was shining. The ice cream vans were out in force. I even thought I spotted Mo Farah (I didn’t. I was hallucinating with the effort of five miles in blistering sunshine).
It was a great day, which is why I’m looking forward to returning to Sutton Park today, this time, for the Masters Championships, also known as the old folks’ races. Competing against people our own age, I’m confident we won’t come last (fingers crossed anyway). Even if we did, it doesn’t matter because these events are all about the team spirit, doing your best and enjoying the day. I can’t wait!
On Wednesday night I should have been racing. It was the Askern 10k, and after last year’s disastrous run, I wanted revenge. But no matter how much I wanted to run, things conspired against me.
The first mistake was not filling the entry form in on time. There had been several Facebook notices along these lines: ‘It’s the last running of Askern. Get your entry forms in early,’ and ‘Askern sold out last year. Enter now.’
Upon seeing these notices, I made a mental note that I must enter as soon as possible, and then no sooner had the mental-note been made, I forgot all about it. A few weeks later, I mentioned to Chris that we’d have to get organised and get our forms in. ‘People are talking about it selling out and all sorts!’ I said.
I turned on the laptop, went to the Askern entry page, and what did I find. ‘It’s full,’ I said. ‘Look,’ I pointed at the screen. ‘FULL.’ I couldn’t believe it. ‘I mean, who wants to run round Askern on a Wednesday night anyway?
‘About 800 people,’ Chris said.
‘I can’t believe it’s so popular. It always rains.’ Last year, I’d had a terrible mascara moment, finishing the race looking like Alice Cooper. This year, I wanted to run because it was the last running of the race. After this year, the Askern 10k will be no more. They are building houses on the site of the finish line or something, which is a real shame. I wanted to be there for that final race.
Not to be defeated, I put myself on a waiting list with the race organisers. I also started asking around. Surely someone, somewhere would want to give me their race number. After a few weeks, I’d had no luck. But then one Tuesday evening at the track, talk turned to Askern.
‘I’ve had a senior moment,’ one of the ladies said. ‘I’ve only gone and entered the race twice by accident.’
‘Twice?’ That meant she had a spare number. ‘I’ll have it,’ I said.
I was sorted. All I had to do was contact the race organisers, transfer the details, and pay my friend for the number. It was all looking good to make my Askern finale.
But then, I had a wedding dress fitting. My dress was too big, on account of recent weight loss. ‘You’ll have to come back for another fitting,’ the wedding dress woman told me.
I nodded. That didn’t sound a problem. Another chance to try on my lovely dress.
Not my actual dress!
‘We only do fittings on a Wednesday evening,’ she said.
That didn’t sound too good. Wednesday is my busy day. My Wednesday evenings between then and the wedding were looking rather booked up. I looked at my diary. ‘Which Wednesday?’
She looked at her diary. ‘You’ll have to come back on Wednesday 17th.’
The evening of the Askern 10k. ‘No,’ I said. ‘I can’t do that.’
IT seems that miracles can happen, because yesterday I had a good long run and enjoyed it too.
Usually I spend most of the week dreading my long run. I manage to drag myself out but it’s always hard work and seems to take forever. Yesterday was different. My legs felt fresh and full of running. I breezed out of the house and was amazed at how good I felt.
On a normal day, I get half a mile down the road, before my legs feel heavy and I start feeling tired, but yesterday that feeling never came. I floated past my usual fatigue spot, and on I went. I kept thinking that I’d not be able to sustain my pace, and I’d do what I could before I got too tired and then I’d crawl home. But not once did I feel tired.
My pace was around 7.40, which is a long-run record for me (it’s usually 8.30 a mile). I even got quicker, completing ten miles in one hour 18 minutes.
On any other Sunday, I’ll stagger home, open the door and tell Chris how awful I feel and how much I hate running. Yesterday when I got home, I just felt confused about why I’d run so well.
‘I can’t believe it,’ I said. ‘I’ve had a good run.’
‘Never?’ Chris said.
‘Really good! Not sure what happened. It’s a miracle.’
‘You were due a good one,’ Chris said.
I wondered why my run had gone so well. There were two changes to my normal routine. Firstly, Continue reading →