How happy was I about the thought of this race last night? Not very happy, is how happy. Not very happy at all.
First: I had really not been training for it, due to a combination of poor weather and apathy. So while I was fairly sure I could manage the distance (probably? maybe?) I was a lot less confident I could manage it in a time I’d be happy with, let alone in the pace for my starting group. I had estimated 59 minutes when I signed up; 59 minutes now seemed like a pale and distant dream. Actually, 6.2 miles at any pace now seemed like a pale and distant dream, let alone the sub-10-minute-mile pace I was dearly hoping for.
Second: the weather has been awful this weekend, and the forecast did not look any better for today.
Third: omghill. Here is mapmyrun.com’s elevation map for the route:
I have made my peace with hills, by and large, but throwing that in right at the end is just sadistic.
Fourth: this was the first race I’d ever run. Going from running alone to running alongside 10,000 others? Potentially worrying. Going from running alone to running alongside 10,000 others, half of whom would probably be tripping over me because I couldn’t manage the right pace for my starting group, when getting there and getting started meant finding my way to a place I’d never been? Actually worrying.
But I’d signed up, after all, and they’d promised me a free banana at the end. So off I went.
Getting there was seamlessly easy. The underground was open early just for the race, and there were shuttle buses set up at Shields Road to get people to the starting point, so no part of the process really required you to know where the hell you were at any given point. It did, though, mean that I got there much sooner than I’d planned to and spent forty minutes dawdling around the muster point before the warmup started. Which! Yes! A mass warmup to music! Seriously, they’d thought of everything… except the weather, which was not only cold and windy but now cold, windy and raining.
I was in the yellow startup group, third from the front. We’d been gradually moving down towards the start line after the first few staggered starts, and the transition from ‘jog towards the start line’ to ‘start running the actual race’ was so smooth I almost missed it. But there it was, because we had crossed the start line and were actually running.
The first stretch was fine, easy and encouraging. It took a little extra brainpower than I’d usually prefer while running to navigate the crowd of other runners, but at least I was keeping a fair pace and not getting in other people’s way. And there were spectators, actually applauding! And there were people with drums! The atmosphere was fantastic, and I coasted past the 1k marker and then the 2k marker and then the 3k marker, thinking, well, this is all going to be fine.
It was in fact fine up until the 6k marker. We had still been on roads up until that point (and how cool is it to run down the middle of a main road while the traffic sighs at you from side streets? it is very cool, I tell you), but a little before 6k, we turned into Pollok Park, and it started feeling tougher. I am not entirely sure why it started feeling tougher – maybe my unfit muscles and lungs were starting to surrender? maybe it was the challenge of running in a pack that was suddenly a lot more tightly clumped together? maybe I was dreading the hill coming up ahead? – but tougher it felt, and tougher it was.
Pollok Park is when the spectators and race-side-entertainment really started to pick up, though. Spectators went from shouting general encouragement to shouting things like “you’re over halfway there!” and “you’re not far off the 7k mark now!” and “you’re looking great!” (we weren’t, but thanks!), and there were drummers and pipers and dancers and a mariachi band I was not entirely sure I wasn’t hallucinating (I wasn’t, it turns out) and the Clyde 1 folk with a megaphone telling us that we could go straight to McDonalds after this with no guilt at all. And because it’s Pollok Park, there was at least one Highland cow lying down under a tree to watch the race go past, so that was cool.
Running the hill was bad – but not too bad, and not as long as I’d feared. The worst thing about it was navigating the bottleneck near the bottom where a bunch of people were slowing to a walk. once I was past that, I managed to keep running okay up to the top. But oh, Lord, that hill took it out of me. By the time we started descending the other side, the tiredness had sunk deep into my muscles, and I really really felt like collapsing into a heap of comforting leafmould by the side of the path. My legs were aching, my hips were aching, my feet were aching, my lungs were aching, and the long downhill stretch was far less of a relief than I’d hoped. By the time we came out of the park onto Dumbreck Road, and the rain started coming down with grim yet enthusiastic determination, it was taking all my willpower to keep running, one more bit of path at a time. One foot. Two foot. One foot. Two foot. Ohgodthere’sstilloveramiletogoIcan’tdothis… one foot. Two foot. One foot. Two foot.
And then, after what really, really did feel like forever, we turned off into Mosspark Boulevard, and then Bellahouston Park was up ahead and someone with a megaphone was shouting out that we were on the final stretch. And I couldn’t walk then, could I? So slowly, achingly, exhaustedly, blisterdly, but still running dammit, I made it down the last long straight path and crossed the finish line.
And I did get a banana.
And a medal.
And a fiancé waiting with a warm raincoat and a towel and a bottle of Marks and Spencers lemon-and-lime-flavored water.
And by that point, who cared about the rain?
My chip time was 1:02:19. So I didn’t get the sub-60 time I was really hoping for, but I was only three minutes off my goal time all the same – and behold!
A banana, a medal, a warm coat, and a sub-10-minute-mile-pace. I am pleased as peanuts.