This weekend saw me take on my first run with a local club. Most of my runs to date have been big events where you will find runners from the experienced to the terrified. I’ve usually found myself in the middle or so of the pack. Not particularly good, but also not dressed as a chicken pushing a bath.
I turned up to find that most of those taking part were established runners. Affiliated to clubs, waiting to begin there was talk all around me of runs recently conquered, energetic events planned. I’d had a time for the run in mind. Something reasonable. Something possibly achievable. Until I heard someone say that the slowest time last year, was faster than the one in my head.
And so the doubt began. The I can’t tape began to play.
For a fleeting moment, the thought of just getting in the car and going home. Making a run for it in the opposite direction. But you know what they say in running. Dead last is better than did not finish which is better than did not start. And I thought there was a chance I was going to prove it.
So I decided I was going to have to run my heart out. Try and run faster than my usual pace, keep up with these other runners, try not to get lost on the route and try not to die.
But the tape kept playing. I am never going to keep up this pace. I am never going to make it back. I am going to be last. And thanks to running most of the course on very uneven ground and grass, a slight back ache that started at 7K was bloody another couple of miles down the track.
Both my hips hurt, my knees hurt and my back hurt. Bits of me hurt that I didn’t know could hurt. I was limping so badly by the end that a first aid person came to see if I needed any medical help. It was the toughest race I have done so far, tougher than the longer and very hot half marathon.
But here’s the thing. I ended up with a 5K and 10K PB. I ran 15 minutes faster than I thought I would. I beat the ‘I can’t’ tape. For no other reason that I didn’t want to do what the old me would have done. Gone home. Either that or I was just trying not to find out whether dead last is better than DNF!