Sunday, 4th December, 2011
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.
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.
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.
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.