Yesterday, I ran for only the second time since Boxing Day. I was supposed to run in a similar event last week but was coughing too much so I just helped out by handing out numbers to the runners instead. I was still coughing a bit this week but was glad of the opportunity to run the same route.
It was a cross-country league event, the first event of that kind I've run in. You run for the club, rather than paying to enter and getting a goody bag and medal. My other half was made redundant before Christmas so events that don't cost anything are ideal at the moment !
I knew it would be tough and just planned to pace myself so I could finish. It was bitterly cold and a three lap course on an exposed, muddy hillside with a few swampy patches. I kept having to stop to cough but was able to keep plodding on, although it wasn't long before I was 2nd to last !
I felt better on the second lap than I did on the first and, with hindsight, I should have just maintained my run/walk steady pace. I even got lapped by several runners. I didn't mind at all, just politely moved over so they could pass me more easily. As it turned out, half way round the last lap I realized it might be possible to catch up with the lady in front, although she was quite a long way ahead. I was gradually gaining on her and couldn't resist pushing myself to catch her. I nearly did it but my cough caught up with me and I wore myself out before the final hill, with my "target" lady just a few metres ahead.
A younger, faster, fitter team-mate had run back down the hill to "encourage" me. Helped by her nagging, I just about managed to walk up it, rather than crawl, although a pain in my chest was almost making me cry. Jess was great - she said she thought I would want to kill her but she kept me moving up the hill even though my chest and legs said NO ! Once I got to the top of the hill, I managed to run to the finish. I was still second from last and was on my knees after crossing the finishing line and the lady I'd been trying to catch was flat on her back.
It sounds like a nightmare but I enjoyed most of it and I'm really looking forward to having another go. The nice thing about finishing at the back was that everyone who had already finished was cheering us on at the finish - I was 82nd out of 83 and we joked that we'd just been attention seeking. I loved splishy-splashing through the swampy bits!
The men's race followed and they had been so supportive that we stood in our soggy, icy-cold shoes for another hour to return their support. Next time I'll take more warm clothes and a change of socks as well as a change of shoes.
82nd out of 83 ! So what ? - a year ago I hadn't even started running
Incidentally, the lady who was 83rd is in her 60s and used to be a lot faster but she had an accident and now has metal plates in her legs. She runs steadily and consistently, rather than my run/walk (she says it has taken years of practice) and she is one of the people I find really inspirational.
I want to get faster and I will work towards that but, more importantly, I want to still be running and enjoying it, however slowly, in 20-30 years time.