It was the strangest, smallest race ever.
So my church supports a local non-profit called Home and Hope which does wonderful work housing families who are temporarily homeless. I’ve volunteered a few times and have been left humbled and incredibly grateful for my home and my family. So when my friend Louise emailed me on Wednesday and said there was a 10k nearby on Sunday for Home and Hope, I was in. I signed up, I signed the boys up for the 5k and we were ready.
There was very little information available beforehand. I could see that all the local churches were fundraising (and some had raised great amounts of money). But there was no information about the race, no route-map, no nuffink. It would be a great surprise. My goal for the race was to use it as a tempo run. I’ve been feeling very slow and stodgy running lately. I’ll admit, I was a bit nervous about racing altogether but I wanted to use it as a gauge to see how fast (or slow) I really was at the moment.
When we arrived…the race was TINY. Seriously tiny. No numbers, no clock, just a cone and a taped start/finish line. I quite like that and people were friendly. We met up with Louise and Gladys. There was a pre-race prayer and we were off.
It became quickly apparent that most people were doing the 5k walk (except my boys who were running it). I think there were 10 people in total doing the 10k! It was made up of two 5k loops. I went out too fast, excited to be running (it was cold, I also wanted to warm up). I quickly found myself in fourth place, behind a couple in blue and a guy in purple. They were much faster than me, so I settled into my rhythm. The first section was an out-and-back so I got to see my boys, Louise and Gladys on their way out as I headed back. It was hard work. I got to the end of the first loop and really wished I was doing 5k so I could give up. But the guy in purple HAD stopped, which meant I was now in third place.
The second loop wasn’t pretty. I ran my socks off. Mile 4 was particularly tough mentally especially as it was into a headwind. I kept the music loud and I pressed on. Eventually, I found myself turning the corner and heading towards the finish ‘cone’ where I could see the boys waiting and cheering. I crossed the line, dying a little and pressed my watch. I’d done 6.1 miles in 50.54 at 8.21 pace. Bearing in mind I’d HOPED to run it at 8.31 pace, I was really happy. I’m nowhere near PR pace (8.10) but I was better than I’d expected.
‘Mummy, you came third’ my little man told me, beaming. It was true. I was second woman but third overall. As such, I was presented with an enormous plastic bronze medal and it flipping made my day.
I ended up chatting to the lovely girl who’d been first woman/second overall and then we watched for Louise and Gladys to come in. My boys did really well, the Dude ran 5k in 36:something which is close to his PR. Gladys ended up coming in last (she stopped for 15 minutes after 5k thinking she had to leave, then she found out she had more time so set out to run the final 5k). So we made a little winners’ tape to cheer her home.
This was a really sweet, informal little event. I have BIG plans to get more people from my church lined up to run it next year.
Bearing in mind my goal of testing myself, I was pleasantly surprised by my pace today. Clearly the Olympic Selectors won’t be beating on my front door and I have a lot of work to do in order to achieve my own goad…but I’m not as sluggish as I thought I was and that was a nice discovery!
I went home…with hope!