Last Sunday, I took part in the fourth of my 10k races this year, at Tatton Park in Cheshire.
Those of you who know me – or who have been reading the blog entries about my charity challenge – will be aware that I detest running with every fibre of my being, and, by all accounts, I’m a bit shit at it (ok, I’m a lot shit at it).
So far, I have pulled various muscles in my legs and back; I’ve tripped and injured my left elbow and knee; my right hip has started crunching when I walk up stairs; and, most recently, I collapsed at the finish line of the Whitchurch 10k in April, resulting in several hours in a medical tent, plus two hospital visits (the latter of which was an overnight stay in a ward with very elderly – and grumpy – men).
Running: Hazardous and stupid
To put it bluntly – and as I explained on my Facebook page not so long ago – I am to running, what Vladimir Putin is to world peace: fucking hopeless.
However, despite my utter ineptitude when it comes to running – and lack of fitness in general – I have always been able to manage a sprint finish at each of the previous events (even though I didn’t quite achieve this at the Whitchurch 10k; and, ultimately, it was pushing myself too much at the end of the race which proved to be my downfall); but, on this occasion, I decided I would give the fast finish a miss, no matter what the signs were telling me:
Not this time, ta
So, after a cringe-worthy mass warm-up, organised with the assistance of a local fitness instructor (which Ollie joined in with, and Isaac sort of freestyle danced to), we headed towards the start line.
Somewhat unusually, the announcer then began lining us up at the start, according to what approximate time we were expecting to finish in – those (proper athletes) around the 35-minute mark were first; followed by anyone hoping for a sub-40 time; and so on, continuing in five-minute increments from there. So, having run all my previous races in just under fifty minutes, I decided to stick with that estimate, and gathered at the start line with my fellow sub-50 mates.
It turns out that the majority of people who expect to run a 10k in under fifty minutes, are either stupid, deaf, or plain fucking lying, because when the race started, I honestly could have crawled past them they were going so slow. I can see the logic behind trying to stagger the runners in order of predicted speed, but the organisers appear to have never been on a flight before, since we all know that people are generally stupid, and when told to board an aircraft in designated row announcements, they will ignore this and push forward whenever the mood takes them. The same principle applied here – people saw a queue, ignored all instructions, and joined it randomly, like sheep.
Consequently, when the race got underway, I had to try and run around these morons at the side of the path, which messed up my own start – and pacing – and left me struggling before even the 2k marker. I did, however, put on a brave face as I ran past my family:
The situation – and my mood – wasn’t helped by the fact my mp3 player had stopped working, so I had to try and fix it, whilst dodging around idiots. And if there is one thing I hate, it’s slow idiots.
Thankfully, I completed the run without any major incident, although I still went home feeling somewhat disappointed with my performance.
On the positive side, I managed to complete the course without any assistance – whether that be from a fellow runner, or someone of the medical profession – on a day when a number of people dropped out of the race due to the heat; and after what happened at Whitchurch, I was just glad to get another 10k under my belt.
At the same time, however, I really wanted to complete all ten races in under fifty minutes, and, more importantly, I was desperate to run them all without having to walk at any point – however, on this occasion, both of those targets sadly eluded me.
In fairness, after what happened at Whitchurch, the sub-50 minute target was not so much of a concern, as I didn’t want to risk pushing myself to get a good time only to end up in an ambulance again, but when I had to stop at the half way-stage (where the water station was situated), and walk because of the heat, I was really pissed off. Unfortunately, no amount of convincing myself that it was better to walk than collapse, made me feel any better about the situation. I was gutted (I still am).
At this stage, I know most people – particularly my family and friends – will say that it was better to finish the race than risk my health, and I know after what happened last time it was an achievement to even ‘get back in the saddle’ (metaphorically speaking); but I still cannot help feeling disappointed, and keep wondering if I could have coped until the finish line, had I pushed myself to continue running.
With that in mind, I haven’t ruled out re-entering the Tatton 10k later in the year (it is, after all, the only one of my events to take place monthly, as opposed to annually), but I will see what the next few bring in June, July and August – when it could be really hot weather. The main thing is, I have now finished four races, and that means I am almost half way through this hugely regrettable challenge.
So, without further ado, here are the scores on the doors:
Time: 54:13 (my slowest time yet – by around five minutes – but that’s because I had to stop and walk for a bit).
Position: 181st (out of 545), so – just about – in the top-third of all entrants (an unofficial target).
Course: Relatively flat (although not quite as flat as I had hoped), but very picturesque, including a nice loop around the lake, and mostly smooth tarmac. 8/10
Weather: Dry and sunny, but too damn hot 6/10
Organisation: Two detailed e-mails prior to the event, with plenty of pre-race information, and a well-organised set-up on the day (although they do hold this race every month, so you would expect them to be pretty good at it by now).
Plenty of enthusiastic marshals, all of whom were shouting words of encouragement (including one who was high-fiving everyone as they ran past him); clear markers at each kilometre point; and a very quick and easy registration process. Oh, and they let me have my headphones in. Good work, Tatton. 9/10
Official Photos: There were at least two professional photographers on the day, and although my ‘poses’ were shit (look, I was tired and I panicked), this isn’t their fault. The photos were free, and uploaded onto the event’s Facebook page by the end of the day. Again, impressive. 8/10
Medal: Very unique and colourful, well made and solid. Plus it contains a lady runner with ample cleavage, so what’s not to like? 9/10
Goody-bag: Ah, it was going so well. No goody-bags on offer, and no t-shirt either (I think they spent all the entry fee on the medal) 0/10
Post-race refreshment: We were given plenty of water (which was a good job in that heat), together with bananas and one of the nicest flapjacks I’ve ever spent half an hour chewing (my mouth was very dry, rather than this being the flapjack’s fault) 7/10 (purely for the flapjack)
Course – 8/10
Weather – 6/10
Organisation – 9/10
Photos – 8/10
Medal – 9/10
Goody-bag – 0/10
Refreshments – 7/10
Meaning a total score of 47/70 (or 67%) – Tatton Park would have been a clear leader at this stage, if they’d only given us a little goody bag to take home; but as it is, they remain in second place behind the ill-fated Whitchurch 10k:
Whitchurch 49/70 (70%)
Tatton Park 47/70 (67%)
Oulton Park 46/70 (66%)
Poynton 39/70 (56%)
My next race is at Colshaw Hall (near Knutsford) on 17th June, where apparently the course sends us around this bad boy…
Last but by no means least, if you’d like to sponsor me (please do, if you haven’t already, as I’m hating every second of this), here’s a reminder of my Just Giving page:
Thanks for reading x