In a week when Sport England launched the This Girl Can campaign – aimed at inspiring women of all shapes, ages and abilities to get involved in sport – I had a bit of a self esteem boosting experience – I ran with the “big boys”!
I’ve not turned up for parkrun since New Year’s Day and it seemed like ages ago even though it was only just over a fortnight. There was a small part of my brain that hoped it might be called off because of the weather but my local team of volunteers managed to make slight adjustments to the route to enable us to avoid the more dangerous icy paths. Damn! Although on reflection, they are my heroes – again!
During the pre-run gathering I was deep in conversation with Phil, a Running Bug friend, when we were informed that the start area was being moved so we all trailed around to the adjacent and somewhat narrower path. The start at Shorne is a bit of a bottleneck anyway but this new area meant we were running three people wide. Unfortunately the mass movement to the new start area also meant the faster runners found themselves at the back of the queue with not a lot of opportunity to move up to the front!
I was somewhere in the middle and started off with Phil. He has recently joked about me pacing him but since he’s a good minute faster than me, this seemed a bit optimistic on his part and not even on the radar for mine. But for the first 500m or so I found myself keeping up with him. And then he introduced our accompanying runner, Dan, as someone he’s used as a pacer in the past. I somewhat hesitantly said “what time are we talking”, “24 minutes” was the reply. “Oh, expletive expletive, I’m going to die!” I thought.
Amazingly, I didn’t. I do, however, think the cold might have had something to do with this. My body was completely anaesthetized by the cold and so I couldn’t feel pain anywhere – legs, lungs, whatever!
So twice during the run, we lost Phil to the hazard of trailing shoelaces, although he did catch up on both occasions and pipped me to the post at the end. And somewhere on the last lap I remember Dan passing comment about me speeding up but I think it was more a case of him having to slow down because of a bad case of stitch.
Then in the last 500m or so, when I’d found myself running alone, I suddenly had company in the form of another male runner. He told me he’d been trying to catch up with me for the last two laps. “Don’t worry, I said, you’ll be leaving me behind now”, which he promptly did! But my ego had been boosted – I can run with the men 🙂
Then this morning I came down to earth with a bump when I was tail runner at junior parkrun. Incidentally, I have embarked on a new challenge – how many layers can you wear before it becomes impossible to run. Fortunately six including a big coat does not appear to be the answer because the one week where the tail runner has to run all the way around, happens to be the week I take on the role! Hats off to all those children though, they put some of us to shame. It was, however, on the second of the two 1km laps that I had a sudden realisation – technically, although maybe not morally, I was old enough to be some of these children’s great grandmother! Just put me out of my misery now ;-(