I didn’t think it could get much better than Nostell Priory parkrun followed by a cup of tea and a scone, but I was wrong. The Thursday Night Fever 5k in Boston, Massachusetts was one of the best races I’ve ever done, maybe even the best. And that’s because of one thing: the after party. You don’t get many races with a free barbecue, open bar, live band and a dance floor. I definitely made the most of it. In fact, if I hadn’t had a plane to catch, I would still be there strutting my stuff on the dance floor.
We’d spent the day in Cambridge at Harvard Square and Harvard University, which I absolutely loved, before heading to the Charles River for the race. Although my legs were a bit achy from all the walking, and despite my lack of fitness, it was the perfect end to a perfect day.
The race is part of a series (the third of five) which takes place every month throughout the summer. It’s called the ‘Let’s Run, Have Some Fun and Be Fit Series’.
It started on the banks of the Charles River near Cambridge and followed the river path out, crossing over a bridge, before coming back on the opposite side. It was a lovely, scenic route, and given the very hot and humid conditions was the ideal distance.
Two races had been organised – one for sub-24 and one for over-24 minute runners. I’ve not been training properly so I opted for the latter. My plan was to warm up once I’d watched Chris and the other fast runners set off, but then came an announcement. All runners are going together. Except I didn’t hear it. I stood there with my camera snapping away, enjoying the atmosphere. It was only a few seconds before the gun that it dawned on me that I was the only runner not lined up. I made a dash for it, and then we were off.
I was a bit panicked from my chaotic start, but instead of taking it steady and gradually easing into the race, I went off fast. ‘It’ll be fine,’ I told myself. Plus, I get a bit claustrophobic in crowds, so I went even faster.
The first mile in 7.04 seemed easy, but then came the hard work. It was hot and stifling, sweat was pouring out of me. Unlike the first, the second mile went on forever. It was also slightly twisting and involved an ever so slight incline over a bridge. My pace dropped to 7.24.
‘Only a mile,’ I told myself, then it’ll be over, so I focused on keeping my legs moving. There was no injection of pace, there was no effortless gliding, I just gritted my teeth and got on with it. My fitness was severely lacking, and it showed, but my mental strength in a race was still there. The clock was ticking, and I wanted to break 22 minutes, so I pushed on, finishing third vet 30-39 in a time of 21:56.
I was absolutely delighted. I’d thought that 24 minutes would be a struggle, but somehow, I’d managed to get a half-decent time. Feeling completely and utterly chuffed with myself, I cheered on my cousin and her husband as they crossed the line. They both did well too. Luke ran 24:29, Kate 28:08, and Chris finished third overall in 17:36.
Happy with our performances, we joined the queue for the barbecue. I was handed a plate of chicken with salad, veg and potatoes, then I was passed a free beer, and then another and another and another. On it went.
The band was playing disco tunes (it was Thursday Night Fever). I started with a tap of my foot, a nod of the head, then my shoulders started to sway, and then I was moving and shaking, strutting my stuff on the dance floor, showing the Americans how to dance. It was glorious, (the evening, not my dancing).
I’ve not had that much fun since I hit the dance floor on my wedding day. There was no post-race warm down, no stretching or hanging about ages for the presentation, it was just an effortless transition from race to party. No one bothered getting changed. They just danced.
I loved it.
This month, the theme is Back to the Nineties. And I really want to be there, but I’m 3,000 miles away so it’s not looking likely. Instead, I’ll have to make do with a cup of tea and a scone at Nostell Priory parkrun.