The night before I’m sat in Pizza Hut wondering if eating a ‘blazin-inferno’ pizza is really the best way of preparing for a 10k race.
I’m still wondering if it was perhaps a bad idea as I drive along in the morning, the satnav selected an interesting route which added to the apprehension that was starting to take a hold on my mojo. Things were not appearing to be going well, the pizza was sitting heavily and the generous amounts of chillies were having a ball, then I blindly followed the satnav onto the motorway network when I wished to take the more direct ‘A’ road, nerves started to jangle, I hate being late, I didn’t want to miss the start.
We arrive and park, finding a very well organised start area and registration, I pin on my number and the boys and Emmalisa3 drift over to the start to see me off, I’m shivering again on the start ‘line’ wondering if I’ve got enough layers on, I’m so absorbed in my own thoughts and growing doubts that I completely miss all the race directors instructions and only snap back to reality when everyone starts running.
No more doubt now as my legs take off, nice and steady eddy, slow, slow steady progress I tell my inner race control, we do a lap of the playing field then out onto the main street, starting to warm up and settle into a rhythm, breathing and the sound of footsteps tapping out the tempo. Turn and downhill still on road but this time covered in a coat of mud and water, my legs start to tingle and burn, 10k to go, can I run 10k?, have I trained enough, I need to stop I’ve run enough, I need to walk, panic, panic panic. I take a deep breath, try to ground myself in the moment, the smell the wind the feel of the ground under my feet, calmer. Turn off into fields now, proper agricultural mud, I shorten my stride and try and get used to a new surface, it’s not like moorland fields, there is no bounce, it kills your feet with a deadweight slap.
I keep the same rythym uphill and down, as runners around me sprint away then hit a wall and walk, I keep to my tempo and smile at the differing styles, out of the fields and into the lanes again the wind in my face this time, I feel like walking, I want to walk, I prepare to stop and ‘break into a walk’, I’m mentally preparing to give in.
‘If I can walk, I can run’ I blurt out to no-one but it does the trick and I keep the tempo, the phrase becomes my mantra, It works everytime. Cheerful marshals point the way, another change in direction, starting to head back, down a lane with overhanging Ivy and holly partially obsquring the most delightful display of white snowdrops, into fields and a welcome water point, back out onto the road and approaching the final climb back up to the village, I finally crack and walk, at the very top is a set of steps, nothing special really ten or so, but they hurt and I have to haul myself up each one, legs screaming in protest.
and then I’m back into the village, houses blur, finish line, Emma is waiting, the boys are there and it’s over, Dragon Slain. Cups of Tea and slices of cake are sought, happy to be back together we are inside the hall waiting in line for bacon butties when the boys come crashing back in, Sam won his age group and has a trophy, we missed the presentation completely, I feel like such a bad parent, but his face is shining with pride, Tom consoles himself with the fact that he beat his brother, no trophy for that though. Eli is happy tucking into a pack of ice ring biscuits.
So that was the Dragon, a beautiful place, well organised race, with great marshals and a nice atmosphere, I make a mental note to come back and slay the Dragon once more, train a little better next time though and see if I can get near breaking an hour. The winning time was just under 40mins, I did it in 76 and came in 87th/96 finishers. Did the pizza make a difference? before hand with pre-start jitters, I would say yes, it was one more thing to find to worry over. Once I was running, nope. Not a sausage. Neither did the Olympic Breakfast I had on the way home.