Valentine’s Run

Today was the local leisure centre’s 5K Valentine’s Run.

It was a small event. The centre has a few of these little runs throughout the year. There’s a very modest £5 entry fee, half of which is donated to charity. Runners get a lovely run, refreshments and a nice medal.

Registration and the pre-race briefing were in the centre’s cafe. Walkers went out to start first, and then runners about 10 minutes later. I had completed the centre’s festive 5K in December with my son and daughter-in-law. Intending to part run, part walk, we went out with the walkers. This time, as I was going to jog the course, I joined the runners.

As we gathered outside the centre in great spirits for a pre-run photo, I noticed that my fellow runners all looked like, well, actual runners. I began to wonder what I was doing there.

We set off. Runners bounded off gracefully into the distance. I waddled along. I commented to another woman jogging alongside me that there needs to be another category for people who want to run, but slowly. She agreed, and then disappeared into the distance. Then I was alone. But I didn’t mind. I reminded myself of what I wanted from the run:

  • I wanted to run somewhere different to my usual routes
  • I wanted to run all the way
  • I wanted to complete the course faster than last time

So I only needed to compete with myself.

The start of the run was fairly level. About half way round there’s a bit of a hill. As I approached the hill, I could see that I was catching up with a few runners who were walking up the hill. I am used to hills, and was determined not to walk. I jogged slowly up, one foot in front of the other, gradually gaining on the walking runners. Of course, once they got to the top, they sprinted down the other side on their rested legs, while I staggered and huffed and puffed.

At the bottom of the hill I started to overtake walkers, which made me feel better (even though I was only competing with myself. Honestly). Then a nice, mostly level, run back round to the leisure centre.

As I ran to the finish, I was cheered on by friendly people handing out medals.

I was pleased to see that the medal coordinated nicely with my t-shirt.

Refreshments – tea, coffee and cake were set out in the cafe. But it was far too warm in there for me. I was very aware of the sweat pumping out of my tomato face as I checked Strava and sipped my coffee. So I went back outside, where I belong.

I was the slowest runner today. But I beat my previous time for this route by 5 minutes 21 seconds.

So slow can also be fast. It’s all relative.

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