Some days, running is hard work, and frustrating. Other days, it’s great, and everything falls into place.
I entered this race a few days before, having held off because of my injury and illness record. I didn’t want to enter a race, and have to miss it, or run it slowly. With a league race coming up, I needed to have a decent run, just to help my fragile confidence more than anything. It also looked like fun; following the 5 mile race, there was a 2k fun run, and then the village annual duck race. I’ve not been to one since I moved out of Birstall, a long, long time ago.
There were a few other Westies turning out, 11 of us in total. It should’ve been 13, but my friends Lou and Conrad couldn’t run, due to injury problems. I was gutted for them, and knew exactly how frustrating it is. Lou still came along to watch, which was great! The Bloke was also running, and given his recent form, I expected him to have a great race. I had no aims; it would be nice to get my Gold standard, but there are plenty of five mile races, and I still had my best to come.
Sunday morning was another bright, and clear day. I’d forgotten to mention in my previous parkrun post that I’d woken up with one swollen tonsil. Yes, just the one. It hadn’t really affected my running, and it seemed to have settled down overnight. Thank goodness! I went through my medication ritual, had my honey and lemon drink, and got myself sorted. It definitely looked like vest weather. The Skins leggings weren’t quite ready to go. It needs to be extremely warm for my legs to come out, which probably explains why they’re so pale! Talking of Skins, my mate Gary had bought himself the new blue patterned ones. They took over all the pre-race talk, well, post-race too, if I’m honest. We’ll certainly be able to spot him in race photos! *starts humming Surfin’ USA*
I was glad I’d brought my sunnies with me, as the pollen count was high. I’d been worried about there being that rape seed stuff in the area, as we passed loads of fields of the stuff on our way out. That stuff is pure evil. The first time I ever came across the stuff, I had a massive allergic reaction to it. I couldn’t breathe, my face, not just my eyes, were swollen, it was horrible. It was the reason why I’d chosen this race over the Clawson 10k, which had used a picture of a path going right through the middle of the stuff. There was no way I’d be running through that! It was probably a bit too late to worry about that now! At least it said it was a road race…
We arrived in Wymeswold in plenty of time. The official car park was in a field about five minutes walk from the village centre. We were ushered in by a duck. Yes, a duck. As well as prizes for the first three men and women, this race also has a prize for the first local runners to finish dressed as a duck. I hadn’t realised that there was more than one duck race taking part!
We made our way to the registration tent to pick up our numbers, and find our team-mates. I hadn’t expected it to be a fete as well, with a few stalls set out, including a barbecue. It’s very cruel to have the smell of bacon wafting about a race start line BEFORE it has started! *tortured face*
Because we had got there early, picking up our numbers was a doddle. There was only a small queue for the two portaloos, but on the downside, I wasn’t able to follow my rule of not using one after a male runner has used it. I think you can work out why…
This field had a hill, and Team Westie had made a collective decision to warm up on it, rather than going out onto the road. This field also had sheep. Real live sheep. And what comes with (or from) real live sheep? Poo. I’d had enough of poo! Yes, I did moan all the way up, and all the way down. It’s poo, for goodness sake! On the plus side, running on your toes is supposed to be good for you. I insisted on continuing my warm up on the road, like everyone else. You can take the girl out of the city, and all that jive.Conditions were almost spot on, as we lined up. Warm, and a bit of a breeze, just right for me. What I didn’t appreciated was being barged out of the way yet again! What is wrong with people? Am I invisible? Or is it too much effort to ask, “excuse me, please”? Some people are just plain rude. This woman certainly was, as she fought her way closer to the start line. This race was not chipped, and so gun time is important. If you want a good time, you don’t want to be too far back, as your official time will add the seconds (or minutes, depending on the size of the field) it takes you to cross the line to your finish time. If you’re also going for a position, you don’t want to be too far back, either, although these often sort themselves out, unless it’s a large field, and you’ve started too far back. If you get my drift. However, and yes, it’s the same old gripe, it doesn’t feel right to start in front of quicker runners, especially in these situations. The bottlenecks created really do hold up quicker runners. It’s selfish, to me, to start ahead of where you should. Anyhoo…
The race is an “out and back” route on a closed road. I’d been told beforehand that it’s undulating uphill to the turnaround, and then downhill to the finish. I had barely left the village, where there were loads of people cheering us all on, when I encountered the first incline, which was steeper than I’d expected (I had spotted it during the warm-up, however). I had a plan to take it easy out, and to push on the way back, but it was hard work for this hater of climbs. It wasn’t the worst hill, but still. After about a mile and a half, there was a Westie peloton of Dave, The Bloke, me, and Jim. The front runners were already on their way back! At about two miles, our team-mates started to go by, and there was much encouragement from both sides of the road. It was great. We also went past Jim’s wife, who was supporting from the middle of nowhere, which was an unexpected bonus! There were a few climbs, which flattened out, and I was really looking forward to being able to take advantage of them on the way back. I was just outside of Gold standard pace, which I was pleased with, given I’m not strong running uphill.
There was a water station just before the turnaround; I didn’t need it, but it was warm. Thankfully, there were no fields of nasty yellow stuff. There was a fair bit of white fluffy stuff floating about, which makes me itch, but I don’t know what it is. I saw Rude “Lady” 2 hadn’t even reached the half way point. Well done, you, for barging to the front, it was well worth the effort. *slow claps*
By now, Dave and The Bloke were ahead of me and Jim, who was running alongside me. It wasn’t long before I noticed that the flat bits weren’t actually flat. They went down! I saw a hill looming in the distance; this hadn’t been in the script! “Oh my god, I’d not noticed that!” I said. Jim said to take no notice of it, and we ploughed on up it. We then gained on The Bloke. This also was not in the script. He didn’t seem to be limping, but as we caught up, he said his hamstring didn’t feel right, and he stopped to walk. We went past, and he caught up, but then stopped again. Oh no. There was no point in stopping and running with him, he’s not the sort of bloke who appreciates it, he likes to just carry on in his own fashion, so we left him.
As we reached the last mile, I glanced at my watch, and worked out I would need to run a strong one to get close to Gold standard. I worked out (incorrectly) I needed a 7 minute mile, and I’d not run that for ages, even if it was downhill to the finish line! I dug deep, with Jim encouraging me. He has been such a great support these last few months, often staying with me when my club runs have gone wrong, and dealing with my meltdowns. He has told me so often I would get my fitness back, and to have him helping me seemed fitting. I did say he should go for it, but he said that he was fine. We ran back down into the village, where there were crowds of villagers, supporters, and runners, applauding and cheering us all on. I saw Lou, and the guys who had already finished, and I ran for the line. I heard the PA announcer call out my name. Jim dropped back just before we crossed it. A true Gentleman Jim!I stopped my watch, and saw a 38, which I thought was wrong, but one of the marshals said “that’s about 38:34”, which is what my watch said. I’d only gone and done it! Gold standard! Boom! I also beat the ducks! I think it’s fair to say, five miles must be my distance, as I’ve always done well in these races. I was about a minute off of my best LRRL time, and slightly quicker than Lutterworth (although I did have to tie my laces in that one). I’m not 100%, and this has given me the boost I needed, and at the right time. I was 88th out of a field of 241, and I was 11th woman out of 93, however, seeing as the woman who finished 8th was called Stephen, I am wondering if I actually had a Top Ten finish. Hmmm…
All finishers were handed a bottle of water, and a Freddo! I had to eat mine, rather than save it, because it was too warm!We also got a really nice tech tee, which was unexpected, especially considering the entry cost. I went and joined the Team Westie group to cheer on the rest of our runners. I was glad, as the burgers and bacon smelled really good! The highlight had to be Vicky high-fiving a line of our runners, true team spirit!
We stayed to cheer on another Westie, Andrew, and his daughter, in the fun run. He took the fun part so seriously, he dressed up as “average dad”! The kids lined up at the front were a mix of serious upcoming athletes, and little kids posing like they thought they were Olympians! They were very eager to start! It was great to watch, there were kids of all ages, even toddlers, taking part. The girl who won, in a staggering 7:01, looked comfortable as she finished. All of the kids were cheered over the line, some of them playing up to the crowds, others stopping to high-five people, whilst a few were taking it very seriously! For a few, the experience was a bit overwhelming, with some of the younger competitors insisting on being carried over the line. One even had a strop about 50m from the knish, and refused to budge! Oops! Andrew finished just behind his daughter, whether that was the jeans, or the fact his youngest had tried to join in at the last minute, I don’t know! All the fun run competitors received a medal, and some Haribos, which I would’ve have swapped, if I hadn’t had to have eaten my half melted Freddo!
The fun didn’t stop there. We went to the Windmill Inn for a drink, before the other duck race. Sadly, I was Dessie, so had to make do with a Coke, but The Bloke tried the specially brewed Waddle pale ale. The wind had picked up, as we supped outside, and the barbecue smelled tempting, however the queue put me off. I wasn’t tempted by a chocolate coated frozen banana, either, bleurgh! The stalls were busy, and it seemed as though the whole village was out. The atmosphere was great. I will probably run this race next year, and hopefully talk my family into coming along, as the race isn’t that long, and there are things to do in any case. The race was well-organised, and I thought it had the right amount of marshals. It’s not well supported on the course itself, but if you run any of the league races, you will be used to this, so it didn’t bother me, but I really enjoyed the atmosphere in the village itself. The support for the runners was great, with people cheering on everyone to the finish. It was such a great day, it was a shame to have to leave our friends, but we needed food. Yeah, I know, it would take longer to drive home than queue for a burger. I would have earned that one!