After running the 2013 Virgin London Marathon, I made the rash decision to keep on running. Having discovered, via the medium of black toenails (pictures on request) that I’d run the marathon in the wrong trainers, I decided to buy some new ones. Two weeks ago, after a great lunch with Team K in the Reading Rooms, we walked just a little further up Nelson Street to The Runners Centre where we left with new trainers for me and Number One Son. I also left with a list of upcoming races in our local area. I thought that if I was to continue running, pounding the pavements solo was not a good idea. So, I signed up for both the Dereham 10 (miles) and the Humpty Dumpty 10k. I’d planned on having a ten mile run on Sunday, so the Dereham race was a good fit. However, when Team K arrived at Neatherd High School, the start and finish line for the race, I was quite shocked to be confronted by a sea of serious runners (including Ellie Matthews, one of the fastest runners at Virgin Money). These people not only made me look silly before any running started, but also made me feel completely inadequate as nearly all of them went for a quick spin around the playing field to warm up. I passed this off by explaining that crying and looking like you were about to wet yourself was the usual way that I warmed up. Gulping down my panic and trying to ignore the middle-age gentlemen massaging their bare buttocks in the registration area (hey, it’s a free country), I counted the butterflies in my stomach to pass the time before Team K escorted me onto the main road for the start.
I was right at the back of the field and fiddling around with my iPhone running app when the race started. And no, I don’t recommend starting a race by wrestling an iPhone onto to your arm while trying to look where you’re going at the same time. I started with a group of ladies and was unsure how to pace myself, but I realised, given the competition, that I couldn’t really start as slow as I might have liked. So I left the ladies behind and slowly picked off similar runners one by one to get into the swing of things and to ensure that I didn’t finish last. After a while I met a group of younger women, who after a while I overtook. However, one of them, who looked uncannily like Davina McCall, kept pace with me. Just as I was wondering how I was going to run ahead of her before she left me for dust, she asked if she could run with me. Gasping in the affirmative, we both started chatting about our reasons for running, how we’d both done the London marathon and what a difference running had made to our lives. It was great, we both kept each other paced and she told me our times on her Garmin and congratulated me on my (now) best ever 10k. We kept on like this until two miles from the end when the hill and wind on the final approach caused her to slow. Waving me on, I left her and finished the final stretch on my own. Mrs K suggested I try and beat my ten mile training time of one hour and forty-two minutes, but I beat that by eight minutes. I was really pleased as you’d expect, especially as during the difficult last two miles I developed two really painful blisters. I finished in 191st place out of a field of 216 (Pete Johnson, who sold me my trainers, finished 28th) and Lisa, my pace maker, crossed the line in 193rd place. It was a great experience and my first proper race amongst some serious runners. And next time, I hope to do better.