I mean, just wow.
What a weekend. The post-race, post-everything-else high is very very real and I need to capture it in words before I lose this feeling.
Saturday. Saturday was parkrun day, as usual. But not so usually, I was in charge of the whole shebang at Linford Wood this week. I’d been nervously looking forward to donning the blue hi-vis for weeks, ever since our Event Director Andrew convinced me to give it a go, and the preceeding week had been spent preparing more than any Run Director had ever prepared before.
I was mostly worried that my voice wouldn’t carry far enough to deliver the pre-race briefing and debated more than once whether or not I should invest in a whistle and megaphone.
Needn’t have worried. Turns out my voice is loud enough to silence 150 people. And even if a member of the ‘audience’ did beat me to the punchline of a joke, the briefing went without a hitch.
After delivering the all-important ‘3 2 1 GO!’ there was actually little for me to do other than supervise the setting up of the finish funnel – delegation is KEY – applaud runners as they came in, and chat to anyone and everyone. A weird feeling of being in charge but having nothing tangible to do.
Until the most important job of all – results processing. A simple task that usually goes without a hitch. So of course this week we had scanning issues… but nothing an afternoon of Strava scouring and educated guesswork couldn’t fix.
All in all, a success. I mean, nobody died so I’ll take that.
The best bit of the day? Well seeing as you asked, I have two.
- Knowing that even a year ago I wouldn’t have even considered taking on a role like this. If I thought running had changed me, it’s nothing compared to how much parkrun has.
- The number of friends who gave up their time to help me out on the day – the ones who stood out in the freezing cold to marshal, the members of my parkrun family who helped me learn the ropes, and George. George who rocked up all the way from London to surprise me and be there for my debut. Totally feeling the love, that’s for sure.
Sunday was Rockingham day. My favourite race of the year. I mean, what’s not to love about a freezing cold race circuit in November?
Seriously though, I bloomin’ love it. It’s THE friendliest race, due in no small part to the amazing Race Director Jason.
His persuasive powers are such that I found myself marshalling the duathlon in the morning, before racing in the afternoon. And my goodness, it was fun. I was positioned on the mount line, making sure that the cyclists didn’t mount their steeds before they were ALL THE WAY OVER THE LINE PLEASE. I saw some pretty impressive flying mounts, learned that even experienced riders have trouble getting their cleats clipped in, and discovered that shouting is fun.
10 miles of race, to be precise.
A funny old distance and not one that I had raced before, but I had set myself the aim of running at my target marathon pace, which meant a sub-90 minute finish. Achievable but challenging.
Earlier in the week, Matt, who I know from one drunken triathlon squad night out and one track session which ended in a race between the two of us, kindly (stupidly?) offered to run the 10 miles with me after competing in the duathlon earlier that day. So at 1pm the two of us lined up alongside the other runners in freezing temperatures and lashing rain. Delightful. We quickly found an easy-ish pace and pleasingly discovered that our cadence was identical, meaning that we matched each other stride for stride.
Despite the horrid weather, the first 7 or so km felt relatively comfortable, and the support from the marshals was awesome. High-fives, cheers, the lot. It definitely got a lot tougher from that point on and I definitely nearly walked once and nearly cried twice. All credit to Matt for keeping me going during the last few kms – I definitely uttered ‘I can’t do it’ at one point and I wouldn’t be surprised if there was an expletive uttered in there as well.
Reader, I did it.
Tears and hugs flowed at the finish line – I’ve really never felt so emotional at the end of a race. The biggest thing was knowing that a sub-4 marathon is possible. And damn will I work hard to make sure I achieve it.
To then be greeted by my friend Sian to learn that she had completely obliterated her 10k PB in her race, was the icing on a very emotional cake.
Proud. Happy. Tired. Loved.
Next weekend has an awful lot to live up to.