Christmas Canter 10k for Mencap

Sunday, 4th December, 2011

Sunday morning

Despite having been out the night before for a Christmas meal, I was up bright and early on Sunday to make my way down to the beach – solo (boyfriend was having a lie-in).  It was a bright and sunny morning – but freezing!  The streets were pretty deserted on the way to the Beach Leisure Centre.

Long winter shadow

As I approached, I noticed an assemblage of ‘serious’ runners – hi-tech running gear, hardcore stretching, running tights, gloves.  I was feeling pretty hip with my new Garmin, so I gave a sly wrist flash (I say sly, you should envisage someone unnecessarily exposing half her arm and leaning on a railing looking ‘casual’), but nobody seemed to notice, so I sauntered over to the coffee-drinking runners and asked where to register.  I was directed downstairs.

Race number

In the dungeon of the Leisure Centre I was met with cheery and alarmingly alert faces.  I gave my name and was given a number, some safety pins and an XL t-shirt that could double as a tent if weather conditions deteriorated throughout the race and I needed shelter (apparently mediums disappear quickly!). I had a quick change, dumped my belongings into a locker and went back upstairs to wait for the start.  The route was pretty straightforward: run along the beach of the sidewalk, turn, run back to Footdee, turn, run back, turn, run to the finish line.

The route

Just before 10:30, all the runners were summoned to the sidewalk.  Headphones went in, and as I crossed the start line, I also started the timer on my new Garmin for the first time!

The cold breeze was less than enjoyable for my poor bare hands, and I did feel a pang of jealousy as a woman passed me bedecked in cozy gloves. Luckily, after the first turn, we were shielded from the wind a bit, only to be blinded by running directly towards the low hanging winter sun.
After reaching Footdee (which I only recently realized is pronounced ‘Fittie’), we turned back onto the main sidewalk (and back into the wind).  I noticed that I was creeping up on one of the serious runners – let’s call her Silver Ponytail – that had previously been a speck on the horizon to me.  I also noticed glove woman who overtook me at the start.  Instantly, without wanting it to happen, I became competitive.

As I closed the gap, the low sun cast my 30 foot long shadow onto their feet, so they knew someone was approaching.  When I reached them, Gloves dropped behind, but Silver Ponytail switched into second gear and would not leave my side.  ‘That’s cool,’ I thought, ‘I’ll just run with her to keep a good pace and then sprint at the finish.’  And so, merrily I ran, matching Silver Ponytail stride for stride, soaking up the sun and the atmosphere.

But hold your horses there, cowboy! What is this?  The Silver Pony was actually a sly fox.  I was being shamelessly used as her windbreaker!  The ‘coastal breeze’ transformed in my mind into a ‘bitter wind’.  Hateful, venomous words rattled around my head and I thought ‘Screw this!’ and sped up.  She tried to hang on, but I was not having that redonkulous behaviour.  As I made the final turn of the race, I noticed I’d managed to create quite a sizable gap between us, so calmed down.

The last leg of the race was relaxed and sunny.  I overtook two more people (one male – always a mood booster!) before going for a short sprint finish.

My overall time, according to my Garmin, was 54:08 (no chip time or anything due to the ‘no frills’ style of the race).  An improvement on the dreadful Great North Run of October, thankfully, and less painful as I wasn’t really pushing myself too hard.  I’d like to get back down to the 40’s for 2012, but charity fun runs are less pain, more steady enjoyment.  I plan on doing it again next year.

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