Sunday, 15 July 2018

Facts About Running A 10k When You Aren't A Runner

(And by facts, I mean my facts, not things you'll find in Women's Health or Runner Weekly.)

Last weekend, I ran in the Leeds 10k for the first time. This was my first run of any kind, let alone one in 26 degree heat whilst my pasty white skin struggled under the layer(s) of factor 50 that I generously lathered myself in. 
When the starting claxon went off for my group (i.e the non-runners), I hopped from foot to foot in anticipation and remembered something important. 
 Rule one : Always stretch before running. 
Whilst I was busy picking out my perfect starting song and wondering if I need to wee again for the third time in half hour (just incase), my fellow athletes were limbering up with various stretches and lunges which would've made my fake hips scream and retreat. With the startline insight and a surge in activity like the scene from The Lion King with Simba and his father and the antelopes, I tried frantically to limber up by pointing my toes to the sky and stretching my calves - so far so positive. And then I was off, jogging across the start line with as much enthusiasm as Red Rum getting ready for the Gold Cup. 
Rule two: Find your pacer. 
Pretty quickly I made a bee line for the 1 hour 15 minute pacer, who was wearing neon yellow and squealing at her cohort of followers that they were doing amazing, two minutes in. 
I tottered along behind her for around ten minutes, before realising that I was finding the squealing pacer more like a drill sergeant on cocaine, and quickly nipped round her and her growing fan base whilst running under a bridge. Not long after, I spotted the 1 hour 10 pacer bobbing away ahead of me, and thankfully (for my limbs and my lungs which would not have had a chance of making it to the 1 hour 5 pacer by the last km), and thankfully I couldn't hear any frantic motivational screams coming from her lungs - I stuck with her the entire way round, and I think I may be in love with her now.
Rule three: Watch out for the try hards. 
Whilst running down Kirkstall Road (for those not accustom to Leeds, it's a long as hell road with no wind and no sun cover - a living hell), a runner barge clean through me to get to the water bottle which had been held out for me by a volunteer.
And when I mean ran through, I mean that lovely gentleman nearly took me out entirely with his verg large, very unfit 6 foot frame. Thankfully I wasn't the only person he did this to, and a much braver man than I am screamed at him to stop pushing the smaller people (i.e everyone) out of his way - runner spirit at its finest for the little people.
Rule four: Do not stop moving. 
By kilometer 6 my legs were on fire and my lungs weren't faring much better. The heat was painful and my Harlequins hat from a rugby game last year turned out to definitely be for a mans head as it kept falling down over my eyes and rubbing my forehead with every stride.
The issue with water stations is that everyone is trying to grab their bottles, regardless of who may be there before them (see rule three), and slowing to a walk whilst approaching the station is criminal amongst runners (I did tell you these were my rules and not a magazines, okay?), so you're best up staggering forward until you can give yourself enough clearance space from the Holy Grail that are water bottles.
Rule five: Give yourself enough energy for that photo finish. 
When I saw the sign for kilometer 9, I nearly keeled over with relief. I had just been power showered with ice water by the fire brigade and accepted Jelly Babies off a child when I saw the sign, and the pacer who I now love was racing up behind me on the incline. "Come on, come on, photo finish we've got this!" She called to her disciples (I was one of them, it was like a cult and I'm glad I got out when I did), and I managed to find enough strength in my legs to round the downward corner in to Leeds City Center at a half run half hobble with blistered feet (Rule 6 : buy proper running socks for the love of all that is holy) , and I'm glad that I did as the crowds were huge. I felt tears in my eyes and turned my music off to bask in the screaming and cheering crowds (this must be how famous people feel) as I motored my way up to the finish line as gracefully as possible. The photos after show that I was anything but bloody graceful, and I shall be burning all traces of these.

And that's my debut 10k over with, in one hour and nine minutes of a hot type of hell. 
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