I had such a stressful day at work yesterday - I was off with the kids on Thursday and there's always a backlog of things for me to sort out when I come back after a day off. Plus, I'm still dealing with a bit of a backlog from when I was away in the Lake District. We are getting ready for a huge exhibition at the end of September and some days, well, I just feel like I'm sinking... Friday was one of those days! But thankfully, I've got a lot of support in the office and my boss is seriously great. She let me leave a little bit early (I normally leave at 3:30pm on Fridays anyway), so I could get home and get organised for the race.
Clacton is a loooonng drive from where we live - about 1 and a half hours. This may not seem like a lot in American terms, but here in England - that's a long way to drive just to run 3 miles! Thankfully, I had laid out most of my race gear the night before so all I had to do was put it all in my backpack - load up my water bottle with my post-race Strawberry Lemonade Nuun (Nuun is seriously good stuff!), make sure I had my race number, safety pins, etc, etc. I did some research online to see what the best pre-race snack would be and I decided on a peanut butter with banana and honey sandwich on wholemeal bread. The website also recommended eating this about 2 hours before the race - so I waited as close to 5pm as I could and nervously ate it.
I haven't had peanut butter in ages because it's not usually something I can safely keep in the house. But I opted for the organic version with no added sugar and bought the smallest jar available! It was heavenly - and I'm sure I will find uses for it - if I can get any once the kids discover it!
We arrived in Clacton about half an hour before the race was due to start. I did worry when we first arrived because I saw lots of very fit looking men, but not very many women - and the women I did see were also very professional looking! I started to worry that I had bit off more than I could chew. But as time drew near there were more people of all shapes and sizes with race numbers, so I calmed down slightly! Before the main race, there was scheduled a children's one mile race. I had entered both of my kids in the race, but decided to let only Josh run because we need to work on Verity's running (more on this in a later post). There were just four kids - all around Josh's age (12) competing. It was a super fast out and back mile and my little man came second!
|Josh waiting for the Children's Race to start|
As soon as the children finished, the adults started to line up and my heart started pumping with nerves. I made my way to the back of the pack and started chatting to the lady next to me (who was also running her first ever race). We were joking about having a competition for who could come last (with me thinking the whole while that it was highly likely I would come last!) and then before we knew it, the race director blew the airhorn and we were off!
Everyone got away so quickly and I pretty much backed off straight away. The race took place on the seafront promenade at Clacton - it was entirely flat (apart from a very tiny incline near the pier), so ideally suited for beginners. I didn't want to push myself too much at the beginning, only to end up with a stitch midway through - so I just kept running, but kept my pace nice and slow. It didn't take long before I was the caboose, but mentally I kept myself strong and kept telling myself that it was my race and to just run at my own pace. It took about 2kms before my breathing settled into a comfortable rhythm. I think this was because I probably started a bit too fast to keep up with the pack - but once I backed off, it settled down again.
Everyone along the race route was absolutely amazing - people clapped as we ran past, people were encouraging - telling us we were doing a great job - it was really a fantastic atmosphere. There were just two unfortunate teenage boys who made some laughing comments about "being last" - but I just ignored them (In my mind, I was tempted to turn around and say "yeah, we'll I'm going faster than you d!ckheads" - but I held my tongue!). For a good three-quarters of the race I was last. I was behind an older woman who was definitely running her own race. She had on headphones and was singing occasionally - she even did the occasional airplane motion with her arms (I thought she was a bit coo-coo for cocopops, if you know what I mean, but I thought - hey - she's running her own race and if she needs to fly like a plane to get to the finish line - so be it!). She was doing a combination of walking and running - she would run at a faster pace and then walk a bit, and repeated this several times. I overtook her a few times, but she would always come back around.
When I passed the 4km marker I could see the finish line. The sea had washed up pebbles and sand onto the promenade, which made running slower and tricky - but I saw my opportunity to overtake for the final time. Thankfully, I had saved up just enough steam to overtake and push myself to get a good distance ahead of her. At about 4.5kms, I saw my son waiting for me - I kept thinking what he said to me before the race "please mum, don't come last" - I told him that I probably would come last and to not be disappointed if I did - I wasn't competing in the race to win, but just to prove that I could run 5km!
I was trying to see if I could hear the woman behind me - I thought I could hear footsteps! My son ran down and told me I was doing a great job - I was nearly there! He ran to the finish line with me and then I just gunned it - I was utterly determined to not come last! OK - I came second to last, but it's not last! And the best part? I have a new PR! My time was an utterly amazing 36.56!!! When I ran 5k on Thursday afternoon, granted there were more inclines, my time was just over 41 minutes - so where 36.56 came from is beyond me - but I'll take it and I'm completely thrilled! Afterwards, my boy told me he was proud of me - that is still choking me up thinking about it. A year ago I couldn't run 30 seconds without feeling like I was going to die and now I'm a proud runnin momma!