On Sunday I joined with thousands of other women from the area to take part in the Lincoln Race for Life at the Showground. I’d signed up earlier in the year to take part in the 10km fundraising event to do my bit for Cancer Research UK and also to encourage myself to go out running again.
When I (eventually – the traffic was a nightmare and it was too far to cycle) arrived at the Showground I was in the midst of a sea of pink. I was, of course, not wearing anything pink apart from my Race for Life wristband – my grey Race for Life baggy top and swished running leggings were accompanied by my trusty baseball cap, some rubbish old white sunglasses, and my lovely new Brooks Cascadia 9 trainers.
SportsShoes.com offered to send me a pair of trainers to help with one of my goals. After thinking a lot about what would be most useful for me I chose something that would be good for a bit of trail running, as I knew the Race for Life course was grassy and quite uneven, and if it had been raining at all would be rather muddy. The Brooks Cascadia 9 Women’s Trail Running Shoes, which I think look fantastic (love the design and colours), are designed for trails, offering a low heel, flat secure lacing, cushioned and supportive sole, and a strong outsole to keep anything from getting to your feet.
Before the event I ran in them a few times, including a four-mile trail run in the countryside near my home in which I got very wet and muddy. I have to admit this was my first proper experience of running (when I say “running” you know I mean “jogging” or “plodding”!) on the types of paths I love to ramble along to get away from life for an hour or two, and I have to say it was so much better than running on the road. I actually kind of enjoyed making my way along proper footpaths and on different types of terrain, rather than sticking to tarmac and concrete. I know a four mile run is nothing compared to so many of you, and that it would be even more enjoyable if my fitness level and technique was better, but it was not a bad experience and I want to do more. The trainers fitted well (I ordered my usual size), they made me feel secure in my footing, and I knew I had made the right choice.
Back to Race for Life. I ended up quite near the front of the long line of women at the start line. This meant when the horn was sounded I was off and away without the traditional amble to the start line. I kept saying to myself – keep it steady, don’t stop, keep it steady, don’t stop – aiming to jog around the whole course rather than stopping to walk at any time. It was very warm (I hope everyone had sun cream on!), quite windy, the ground was uneven and a bit unpredictable for a trail novice like me, but off I went at a nice easy pace. I had my phone in my new Lifedge case with me and took some snaps on the way round…
The first 5km lap was not bad at all. Yes I was very warm and yes I was panting a bit, but I got into a good rhythm and felt okay. There was one part of the course right at the far side where there was absolutely no air and I felt like I was melting, but the breeze helped the rest of the time. The course goes right around the Showground, over the race course, across paddocks, around marquees that were already being set up ready for the Lincolnshire Show.
The 10km runners split from the 5km people just before the start/finish line and I was pleased to see a water station ahead – although because I cannot drink a cup of water whilst running I had to break step and walk to get my refreshment. As soon as I’d done that I knew it was a mistake – not to have a drink, but to slow down to a walk. I completely lost my momentum and ended up pretty much walking the next couple of kilometres, all the time cursing myself and telling myself off, but never actually getting my stride back again. I did get my rhythm back again in the end, and ran the last 2-3km to the finish, where I had a big hug from my mother-in-law who had done the 5km in memory of Graham and had waited to see me complete the 10km.
The event was far more emotional than I had imagined. I’ve done Race for Life a number of times before and like it because it’s a really informal relaxed event for women to take part in that is much more about the taking part than the finish times. I was running in memory of my father-in-law Graham who lost his very short fight with cancer a couple of years ago, and Lydia, my friend’s seven-year-old daughter who passed away just a week ago. Right after the event, after some food and a shower (naturally!), I was heading down to Southampton for Lydia’s funeral. Graham and Lydia were right there in my mind the whole way around, and that part of event really got to me this year.
I had written in my Some Goals and Challenges for 2014 post earlier this year that I wanted to complete it in a “close to personal best time” – that being 1 hour 3 minutes. I also said I would be happy with under 1 hour 10. But it wasn’t to be. I finished the run in 1 hour 18 minutes. Slow, but not disappointing. Race for Life is by no means a race; it is a community focused fun run designed to bring women together to do their bit to help raise money to beat cancer. Even when I was cursing myself for walking some of the way, I knew that actually it didn’t really matter, it really was the taking part (and actually finishing) that counted.
I would say that I’ve decided to retire from organised running events. I’ve tried lots and I always end up stressing over the training, not fitting enough in, getting belly ache from the nerves, and then doing far worse than I would like to even when it doesn’t really matter. But I won’t say that, as I know I will be back for Race for Life next year – maybe I’ll take the trail running a bit further and try one of the new Pretty Muddy runs as something a bit different.
Have you run Race for Life? Do you find 10km a challenge every time? Do you prefer trail running to road running? Do you battle with your own mind when you run?