Yesterday I ran in my first ever race. Well I did come last in the 5000 metres in Year 8, but I was forced in to that, and have blocked most of it out. Those of you that have read my couch to 5k will know what a big deal this is for me.
I started running in April, and while I was reluctant at the start, by the end of C25K I absolutely loved it, so my friend entered me for a 10k race. At the time, it was June, It was a million miles away, easy. I was running 3 times a week, slowly but surely increasing my speeds and distances, until 6 weeks ago I ran my fastest 5k, in 35 minutes and then managed 10k a week later for the first time in my life. It took me 1 hour and 26 minutes, but I’d done it, and more importantly, even though at times I’d ran very very slowly, I didn’t stop, and I didn’t walk. I was unbelievably proud of myself. To top it off, I didn’t even feel too bad the day after, this was going to be fine.
Then 4 weeks ago I returned to work after nearly 11 months’ maternity leave. I’ve got quite bad varicose veins in my legs, and work in retail. I was suddenly finding even after a 4-hour shift on my feet, at the end of the day my veins were swollen, pinching, and my legs felt so heavy I struggled to walk. The day after a shift i could just about run 3k, even over the weekend when I have 3 days off, I couldn’t manage 5, they just felt so heavy. I tried to tell myself it didn’t matter, even if I walked around, as long as I did it, it was ok.
As the day got closer however I started to panic, we looked at the list of racers, and it was going to be a very small race, around 100 people, I took this to mean most of them would be serious runners, whatever I tried to tell myself, I was worried, I didn’t want to come last, I didn’t want to finish miles behind anyone else, I was going to make a fool of myself, I couldn’t do this. I’m not a runner.
The morning of the race I felt really nervous, worried I’d let myself down, or other people would think I was silly for even trying.
I couldn’t have been more wrong.
I always absolutely hate the middle bit, so in the case of a 10k between 4k and 6k. I start well, but then when I hit 4, my legs start to hurt, some of the people I have been managing to keep up with start to pull away, and 6 more kilometres feels like I’m being told to run to the moon. But everyone was so supportive, even though it was a small race, there were families dotted around the track cheering everyone on, the stewards keep telling us we could do it, other runners shouted encouragement. And by 6km I started to believe them, I could do this, I hadn’t had to walk yet. I was going to do this.
My legs were killing, they didn’t feel like they were attached to my body properly anymore, by 7km, every stride was causing me pain, but I’d matched pace with a lovely lady, who had also only started running this year, and we kept each other going, telling each other we could do it, it wasn’t far now.
When the lady in my headphones said “1km to go” I honestly could have cried, and my pace was 7 mins 36 per km, I was going to do it a lot faster than I’d ever imagined. As I came over the last hill (yes, hill!!!) and saw Hunky Husband and The Kids waving to me from the finish line, my eyes filled up with tears, I was beyond proud of myself, all my hard work had paid off, yes my varicose veins kill, my legs aren’t properly attached, but I did it. I didn’t walk once and I took 10 minutes off my last (and only) 10k. I also learnt that no one would have judged me, some people did walk, but good on them for trying, and someone always has to come last. Me and Hunky Husband stayed until the last person crossed the line, and cheered along with everyone else, just like they’d have done for me.
I may not ever be the fastest, and today I feel like I’ve been hit by a bus. But I am a runner.