After a very muddy and incredibly slow parkrun at Killerton yesterday, it was questionable whether my trainers were going to dry out in enough time for today’s event. I managed a personal worst on parkrun, but enjoyed chatting to the lady I’d picked up with, about a kilometre in. It was also very nice to catch up with Sharon from shazruns again. We’re on for a cuppa next week, as I am barcode scanning instead of running. I’m currently trying to think about what I can wear as fancy dress.
Anyway, when I got home, I put my trainers straight in front of the heater, which quickly attracted Timo, who then spent a large part of the day guarding them.
We made sure we went to bed early, as I knew we’d need to be up in good time to get in the car and drive to Weston-Super-Mare. I really wasn’t sure if I’d be able to do 10k. I felt nervous on the way up, and said to M that if I hadn’t completed the course by 1hr 45 mins, then I would be withdrawing. In the back of my head, I thought I could probably do 1:30, but I really wasn’t sure.
We arrived at the Weston Christmas Cracker 10k HQ at Weston College, where I nipped in to get my chip. I’d not thought to bring any tinsel, and seeing so many runners with tinsel (and also in some of the most amazing fancy dress costumes), I felt less sparkly. I dived into the Sovereign Centre and waited patiently for the 99p store to open.
Complete with tinsel, M and I headed out to the Pier. We bumped into mother- and father-in-law on the beach. Father-in-law was also running. Father-in-law had made a real effort and dressed as the Grinch, which tickled me as that is just not him at all. I wasn’t too impressed with mother-in-law, who pretty much abandoned her son at the earliest opportunity.
At just before 11am, everyone started lining up at the Pier. I deliberately went to the back, knowing I was not going to be a mid-pack competitor. The people were nice and chatty, and despite the biting wind and slight drizzle, the atmosphere was tense but fun.
I got off to a good start. I was desperately trying to remember all the good advice I had been given via the blog and on Twitter. I didn’t start out too quick, but had created a playlist that I knew I could run to the beat with. What I hadn’t accounted for was the sand. In parts, it felt like running on a trail or grass, other times, it was exactly what I expected from sand – energy sapping, calf ache inducing misery. There was a strong head wind too, though I imagine that those in a pack didn’t have so much of a problem. Unfortunately, us back markers spread out quite a bit. Another issue with the head wind was that when you splashed in a puddle, it just went up over your toes and soaked your feet. Ah well! Thankfully no blisters ensued.
I was surprised to see that my 5k time was about normal in comparison to my parkrun times. However, never have I been so pleased to get back on to firm ground! Just before the 5k mark was a water station which was also very welcome. My speeds picked up over the next couple of kilometres as my calves settled into “normal” terrain. At the 6k mark, M was waiting for me. I stopped for a quick hug and a brief walk before setting off again.
As I worked my way down the promenade, I was clapped and cheered on by marshals, the public and runners who had finished. I nearly cried as I found it quite overwhelming, but then found it hard to keep my breathing steady, so I focused on the task at hand and headed towards Knightstone Causeway.
The finish line was about half a kilometre along the beach. As I approached, the commentator called out my name and congratulated me – I’m not sure if he remembered something I had put on my entry form, or whether it was one of the Twitter interactions, but I was really quite touched. I ran over the chip recording foot pad thingy at 1:24:18. I was 1,623rd, and I am damn proud! I think the lady who took my chip off thought I was going to be trouble, as I probably looked a bit of a state, though I assured her I wasn’t going to faint. M met me in the finish area where I promptly burst into tears. I was so overwhelmed. People were so kind and considerate, encouraging every single step of the way. I didn’t think I was going to be able to do it, and I’d done it. It was an amazing feeling knowing that I’d proved myself wrong in a good way.
I grabbed a bottle of water and made my way up to the College to collect my mince pie and t-shirt, not feeling too bad. I made my way to the t-shirt queue. Unfortunately the last XL shirt went to the lady in front of me, so I had an L.
And I was right. That mince pie was the best mince pie I’ve ever had in my life. It was amazing!
I had been given a raffle ticket when I crossed the line, which the lady at the finish line explained to me, if I went to the second floor in the College, I could pick a raffle prize. M loves Minstrels, so I picked a box of those for him to say thank you for standing about in the cold for over 2 hours, waiting for me to set off, run, come back and just hug me when I got all silly and cried.
After the run, we went to nan-in-law’s for lunch (and so I could change in relative comfort), and then came home after lunch.
I’m now feeling a bit stiff, and I suspect getting down the stairs to get out of our flat will be a challenge tomorrow morning.
I would really like to thank the organisers of the Weston Christmas Cracker 10k, and give special thanks to the marshals (and public) who clapped, cheered, encouraged and high-5’d me along – it kept me going and I am so grateful. I tried to thank everyone as I went along, but I am sure there are some people who I missed. I plan on returning next year! Thank you also to those who gave me advice here and on Twitter – your tips made my ride a little more organised (and probably comfortable!).
The biggest thank you has to go to M, who has endured my whining and mythering about not wanting to do it (or generally go out for runs at the moment), made sure I packed my bag, directed me to free parking near the College, holding my bag (and hand), wishing me luck, waiting for me, cheering me on and… well, plenty more!
See you next year Christmas Cracker!