RACING is one of the best things about running. I love it. I love the challenge of trying to run faster. I love the friendly competition. There is no better feeling than crossing a finish line, feeling exhausted but happy with a job well done. Unfortunately, last night I didn’t enjoy racing at all. Not one bit.
It was the Askern 10k, which is one of the races in my club’s championship. It had been in my diary for a while. At the start of the year I’d even marked it out as a potential PB course, a chance to break the 40 minute barrier. After taking part in the road league (four races) and another local 10k, I thought I’d be fully fit and ready to smash my PB.
I arrived early, did my warm up, but I didn’t feel right. The wet weather didn’t help.
‘I’m not sure I want to be here,’ I said to Chris. After so many races, my enthusiasm had diminished somewhat.
On the start line, I was miserable. The rain was coming down. My mascara was bound to smudge. I didn’t have that feeling of excitement and nerves that I usually get before a race. There was nothing.
Then we set off and there was a spark, just a little spark that I still wanted to do well. I still wanted to give this race everything. I moved my legs. I moved my arms. The pace was 6.23 minutes per mile. Perhaps I could do it. I pushed my body to go faster.
My body said no! NO. NO. NO.
My legs were heavy. My arms were heavy. I slowed. I had to work really hard to maintain the slower pace. When I saw a slight hill, I pushed again. I overtook a few runners, but I felt truly dreadful. I just wanted to stop and go home. I had nothing left. In fact, I don’t think I’d had much to begin with.
My shorts and vest were drenched. Black blobs of mascara slid down my face. I must have looked quite frightening.
The last stretch of road seemed to go on forever.
‘Where’s the finish?’ I asked the chap next to me.
‘Don’t know,’ he replied. ‘This is awful.’
That’s exactly what it was. Awful. Absolutely awful.
At last we turned a corner and it was there, the finish. I crossed the line in 41.40 and won a prize, but it was my slowest time in two years. It’s hard to describe the feeling. It wasn’t disappointment. I wasn’t upset that I’d run so badly. It was more an I-can’t-be-bothered-with-all-this feeling. I didn’t like it, but that’s how I felt.
I was cold, wet and in need of a cup of tea. A cup of tea and a bar of chocolate.
We headed to the club house for a brew. Chris had packed some Snickers. He’d bought a pack of four. It was a good job really because each individual Snickers had shrunk. They were tiny.
‘Are they fun size?’ I asked.
‘No’ Chris checked the wrapper. ‘Normal sized. We’ll have to eat two each.’
I’m not sure what I was most bothered about, running badly or the smallness of the Snickers. Both really.
I don’t know what went wrong with my race. Maybe I’ve raced too much. Maybe I’ve neglected my long runs. Maybe I’ve been eating too many Snickers and not enough spinach. It could be anything really.
‘Maybe it was just a bad day,’ Chris said.
‘Spinach. It has to be spinach.’ I struggle with iron deficiency, so have to eat spinach in abundance. Sometimes I let the spinach slide.
‘Do you fancy a pizza on the way home?’ Chris smiled. ‘We can get it with spinach.’
Pizza! It was the best idea Chris had ever had. After a disastrous race, pizza was exactly what I needed.