Well, today was the big day. My cough had kept me indoors and well away from running since graduation, so I felt a little nervous as well as excited this morning. I followed some people already wearing their numbers from the tube station to the correct part of Regent's Park. They were tall and trim ladies, and I worried for a bit about whether I'd physically be up to the challenge today.
I arrived with plenty of time to spare and queued for my free t-shirt. I was surprised by how quickly the line moved, and how friendly the volunteers were! The man who handed me my shirt wished me a great run.
I waited around for a bit until my cousin arrived. She had done a 10mile run yesterday and is running a half marathon next week, so I felt like a little baby next to her, but she was so encouraging and lovely. She gave me lots of advice and took lots of pictures for me. We made fun of the warm-up dances that they were doing to get the crowd pumped, although it did add to my excitement.
Eventually the race started. I ditched Laura and had my own music - remixes of video game music and some upbeat songs to keep me going.
I was overtaken by a lot of people, and I in time overtook a lot of people. Over my music I could hear the other runners chatting, and I was reminded of what a nice community we're part of. There were runners of all shapes, sizes and ages, and I berated myself for my earlier self-consciousness. I was doing great because I was doing it. The words of a student who'd been in my walking group at D of E came back to me - "Go at your own pace, Ma'am, don't be in a rush. Enjoy your run!". I was shocked, then, when Runkeeper chimed in and said I was running at around 11.27 seconds per mile! I just focused on going ahead.
Regent's Park is lovely. Little children watched in awe, postponing their football games as we ran past. Many people were cheering as I admired the scenery. Partway around I saw two camels in the zoo! It was very different from my usual route of 'the streets around near where I live.' It has inspired me to be more adventurous! I will have to run the sea front before I leave Southend.
I remembered the briefing pack saying that the run is flat. Well, if I can't put a spirit level down and have the bubble in the middle, it ain't flat! I was surprised, therefore, when there were a few hills. They weren't too bad until this big one at around 2.3 miles in where I slowed to a walk. 'You need to save some in your tank for the final stretch', I told myself. A lot of others slowed to a walk as well.
I saw a young lady holding a sign saying 'Tap this sign for a power up!'. As a video game fan, I loved the Mario reference, and after that hill I needed it! I tapped the sign, said "Yeah!" and even jumped a little!!
Several speedy people ran past me as if it was the most natural thing in the world. I kept on going, overtaking those tall and trim ladies I'd followed to get to the park. I saw the finish line and saw my cousin standing there with a coffee, taking pictures. I waved and grinned and kept on going. I was determined to make it a photo finish!!
As I rounded the corner back up to the start line, I noticed the clock - and I sped up so much I could barely see! I made it over the finish line at just after 34 minutes, but as I hadn't been at the front when I started, my cousin assured me I'd done a sub 34minute 5k. I was shocked, especially as I had walked up that hill!!
I collected my medal from the same man who had handed me my shirt - he congratulated me and I thankfully accepted more water. The run was extremely well-organised and I thoroughly enjoyed it! We then went for a well-deserved lunch and we caught up. Sadly the last time we saw each other, it had been at my Nana's funeral, so this time was lovely. We chatted as if we speak all the time, and not as if it had last been just under 5 years ago!
I feel very proud of myself for today. I had no idea how happy I'd feel, but here I am!! I must admit, I got home and after showering took a quick nap, but after the run I felt unbeatable. Thank you to everyone on here for the encouragement and support, too - I imagined you guys cheering me on alongside my wonderful cousin!
Good luck to all you other runners out there this Easter weekend!