Here’s an update of how my hardcore weekend went to celebrate the end of Juneathon.
The 5 miler seemed like it was one looooooong uphill and I struggled as I’m not too good on hills. I was the 2nd to last marker, saved from being the back marker by an awesome 85 yrs young man who has completed the race every year since it started. It was a 2 lap out and back so as well as getting lapped I had the added bonus of seeing people nearly finished when I was starting my 2nd lap. Marvellous.
There were lots of stopsley Striders there which made a cool change – this is the first local race I’ve done and it won’t be the last. I really enjoyed the feeling of camaraderie and being part of a team – even if we’d never been introduced, my fellow Striders and I cheered and encouraged each other on as we crossed. I actually felt quite sick for most of the race as I put a high5 tab in my water bottle that I hadn’t tried before, and it tasted and smelt like flat red bull – Ug. By mile 4 I was feeling done for, I’d walked for a bit and in my head was planning on walk/running it in. My grand plans of a 55 minute finish were out of the window and now I just wanted to get under the hour mark.
Over the crest of the hill I saw a man in a Striders top running towards me and waving, as he got closer I saw it was Nick – the guy that took all the fab photos at the Marathon and along with his wife and a few others were our chief cheerleaders. He said he’d seen that I was struggling and having finished had come back to run with me to the end. I could’ve kissed him! It was just what I needed and I ran the last mile whilst he chattered away to keep me distracted, and I credit him with my 58m32s finish.
Still feeling ill, I got up at 6am for the 2nd day running to head down to the Biathlon. Long story short, after 6 lengths I realised it was not my day and decided not to push it. I got out of the pool as unobtrusively as possible and slunk to the changing rooms. My 1st (and hopefully last) DNF. I’m not proud of it but after swallowing half the pool I thought it best to quit whilst I was still ahead (read:alive).
The 3rd 6am start on the trot (not good for me!) I headed down to Regents Park to meet up for our monthly 10k meet up and breakfast. I was still feeling under the weather and told Alma I was going to plod it and see how I went. I waved her on at just before the 1 mile marker and coming up to the end of the 1st lap was considering pulling out. The field was enlarged by a charity run that was taking place for the AfroCaribbean Luekemia Trust. A small but successful organisation you can read about here. I had been playing tag with 3 ladies running in their tops, and just before the end of the 1st lap the two younger girls went off ahead and left the older lady on her own. She had supports on both her knees and I could see she was struggling a bit, so I thought I’d have a chat with her – see if I could help her along. She told me all about the charity – it was set up by her sister after her nephew was diagnosed with Luekemia at 3 years old to encourage Black/mixed race potential donors register for bone marrow, blood and organ donation, and the fact that she had only just taken up running and was finding it hard. She thought it would take her and hour and a half to finish the 10k, I told her I wcould get her round in an hour and 20 if she’d let me lead her – she said yes and suddenly I had a reason to stay in! Through a combination of run/walking we got round in 1h19m17s which she was chuffed with. I was just glad to have finished!
In all my quests for PBs and clocking up mileage, I’d lost sight of what kept me running in the 1st place. It’s the support, encouragement and camaraderie that I get from my running (and cycling and swimming and dressing-gown-dashing) peers, both real and virtual, that has kept me running since I took it up for my 1st Janathon in 2011. And it was a fitting end to my 4th athon to be able to pay that forward on Sunday.
Now for the beginning – Marathon training starts Monday…