Hoorah! A record time. A medal presented by Mrs MSE. An amazing atmosphere. Lots of good causes, a pair of achy legs – and getting called an ‘elite athlete’ to boot.
The British 10k race in central London yesterday morning was my first ever race and I was chuffed to smash my record from earlier in the week (see 49:59 blog) bringing the time down to 49:21, which feels fantastic. Although, actually the GPS tracker I normally measure my runs with said I did 10.4k, so I’m not quite sure how to put it on my spreadsheet (see my I love spreadsheets blog).
Being an ‘elite athlete’
I was running for Cancer Research UK and had agreed to do a couple of interviews for the charity if any were wanted (in the end there weren’t any). Due to this it meant I met the race officials in a hotel first and was rather surprised to be sent up to the elite athletes room and given a pass.
It was rather intimidating to be in a room with about 40 people, where my body fat made up about 50% of the entire room’s total. They were there stretching and moving and discussing ‘route tips’ (I did want to suggest missing out one of the loops, but didn’t). Luckily a little later a few more obviously (sorry chaps and lasses) non-elite, elite athletes came into the room, making me feel a bit more comfortable.
The starting line was scary
Having held out a few thoughts of trying to sprint 100m at the start so I could claim to have led the race at one point, there was none of that happening. The start line was a nice open pen, where you get an amazing view of the other 25,000 people waiting to race. Then, after being told the start was delayed, the front of the rest of the runners were moved up to join us.
That meant I was concertinaed between the elite runners just in front and the club runners behind who’d jostled for position. You could feel the adrenalin and being trapped between the two was more than a little intimidating. I felt like diving to the ground in a tortoise position – but thankfully trampling didn’t happen.
Overtaken by 1,000s
Of course having started at the front, there’s only one way to go…for the first five kilometres I was constantly being overtaken, thousands passed me in a never ending sea of fast legs and sweaty bodies.
The first person I overtook was at the 5k mark, by the look of it, it was a chap who’d miss-paced it and was now struggling to keep up with his earlier speed. After that thankfully things started to normalise so there were others at a similar pace to me.
While I struggled a bit around the eighth kilometre, thankfully it was close enough to the end of the race to get the buzz of knowing I was closing in and for me to kick up the pace to ensure I could beat my best time.
Mrs MSE was waiting for me at the end and put the medal over my neck. Then we walked for about 20 minutes.
But the endorphins and adrenalin were still pumping so, on the spur of the moment I handed my bag to Mrs MSE and decided I was going to run the remaining 5km home (she got the bus).
There was a little method in this madness. I know I’ve now got the running bug and am considering entering a half-Snickers. So, running a 5k on the back of a 10k seemed a perfect test to see if I was capable. Of course my pace was a lot slower, it took me getting on for 28 minutes but I made it!
PS. I don’t want to be rude, but the funniest moment did belong to the race starter, the Lord Mayor of Westminster. After making her speech (it’s a lady lord-mayor) they played the national anthem, which she duly sang with gusto, but surprisingly kept the still live microphone close to her lips – drowning out the music for all 25,000 people.
Now to be fair even Charlotte Church would’ve needed to be on form to make it sound good for that stadium sized audience – never mind what I’ll politely call an enthusiastic amateur – there were many wry smiles and the odd wince all around. Still good on her for giving it her all.