Talk about over-thinking it. Whether to walk to the park or get the bus, trying to gauge how long both would take as I wanted to arrive at such a time as to still be warmed up when the run started. Then what to wear, my C25k shirt had arrived so that was a given, except I have no pockets worth the name in my jogging bottoms so would need to wear my regular light jacket so as to have somewhere to put my 'phone with the tunes on so no-one would see my shirt which made wearing it pretty pointless and paying extra for next day delivery the work of an eejit. Then I had to go straight on somewhere afterwards, only briefly but it had to be done so should I bring a spare shirt to change into as what I had on would be sweaty, then if I brought another shirt I'd need a bag and could put my water in it too and then where would I leave it during the run and did I have enough time to go indoors first after all, then what if it rained would I need anything else oh shit I'd definitely have to go indoors before my appointment as I'd be soaked to the bone but wouldn't be able to get the bus as I'd be dripping wet and then......BREATHE!
You think reading that was exhausting? Imagine the state of me on Friday night until Mrs Fingalo told me to cop myself on and stop fretting!
Anyway, Saturday morning came and I was still quite excited at the prospect, I left about eight thirty and walked to the park, getting there about ten minutes before it was due to start. My excitement mounted as I arrived and saw others doing the same, the hi-vis of the stewards doing what they should and so I headed straight for them, just to check on a couple of things, oh and tell them they'd need to be cancelling any plans to shoot off at their usual time as I was pretty slow. I think I may have suggested they might just make it home in time for Mother's Day.
It was quite an amazing sight as I stood taking pics by the starting area, it put me in mind of The Sermon On The Mount as I could see folk converging on that point from every direction, except they were in running clothes and trainers, rather than a knee length tunic and sandals. Obviously. Although being Brighton, that wouldn't have surprised me either.
In the end I'd brought a bag with a spare shirt and after taking a few sips of my water, I left it with a myriad others by a tree, no special arrangements were in place but folk seemed fairly relaxed about it and I had nothing of value in mine anyway. I was amused to see several items of clothing left hanging from lower branches too, not exactly the kind of tragic Strange Fruit Billie sang so beautifully about but strange looking nevertheless.
I estimated about 300 were there (it transpired I was 98 short) and after a quick briefing in which guests and newbies were asked to raise a hand and given a warm cheer, we were off. The weather had held, no rain and the cold snap we have now had yet to arrive, so why I decided to wear my usual amount of gear I have no idea, given all the thought I'd put into it the evening before, when it came to it I acted out of habit and donned two long sleeved t-shirts and my light jacket. I'm still amused that I even bothered with the shirt I'd bought specially for the occasion but reasoned I'd take my jacket off at the end and unveil it to the world.
Heeding the warning about the newbies schoolboy error of setting off too fast, I was quite happy with my pace, feeling I was at my usual speed. The course consists of one short and two long laps, I've mentioned before that one side has a long and torturous incline which I feared, having done all but the final kilometre of my last run on the flat. The downside (ptp) is that the contours of the park mean it's not balanced by a corresponding downhill section, it drops in quite a short distance.
I'd set MapMyRun going but for some reason, didn't put on any music, a decision I was to regret as I missed it, I also think it led me to ponder too much on what I was doing and how hard I was finding it. I also paid for wearing too much. I should have left either the jacket or one of the shirts off, indeed I could easily have ran in just the one shirt, it wasn't that cold at all. An error I put down to my usual 5 am starts. Quite quickly the crowd around me thinned out and then in front of me was the hill (I've decided to call it a hill from now on as it makes me feel better, given what was to come) and my first climb (okay I'm overdoing it now) which I immediately found tough, in fact I'd realised I was in for a tough one before I even got that far, it seemed I'd chosen the wrong time to have one of those days.
Just before I finished the short lap on came MMR guy, to my surprise I'd only gone and done excatly what I'd set out not to do and gone too fast, so easing back I carried on, around and before long the hill was there again, on the second and third laps it's even longer and it wasn't nice. Again at 2k the MMR guy was mocking me by telling me that I was STILL going too fast, again I tried to adjust but to be honest, I was suffering so much by 3k that I can't remember what he said. 4k comes about halfway up the hill for the third time and I just couldn't keep going and to my utter disgust, I slowed to a walk.
I was absolutely devastated!
As early as the second ascent (ahem) I'd decided not to enter again for some time and although I'd seen plenty of people walking, some even in the first kilometre, I just wasn't prepared to accept that I'd had to, indeed that I'd allowed myself to. It wasn't all hell, I was able to notice the different runners, the various shapes and sizes, those overtaking me at a rate of knots (18 minute 5k bastards) and some who looked so uncomfortable they made me feel like Mo Farah in comparison, the quick and the almost dead, so to speak.
I've not 'failed' a run since the first run of Week 4 and have ran plenty of 5k's at this stage, some of which have been tough but lately I've found them much easier and have certainly not felt even close to stopping, this time I was in bits after only a four fifths of the distance. I walked for about half a k then started up again, making sure I was back on the flat before I did so. For my ego's sake I had a quick look back and was surprised to see folk still behind me and even passed a woman with a 50 (parkruns done) shirt on, which gave me a bit of a boost, then as I approached the finish line I could hear runners catching up and I don't know from where but I was able to speed up just enough to get to prevent them overtaking me, only to find as I entered the finishing funnel they weren't even in the feckin' thing and I'd speeded up unnecessarily!
Stop laughing at the back, man dying of embarrassment over here.
The stewards in the funnel were very nice, they could see I was suffering and were very encouraging, gave me my little tag and told me who to go to to have my time recorded, a barcode reader later (I vaguely registered the girl telling me a time, 37 something) and I was able to sit down at the little coffee shop by the finish where the runners congregate afterwards and take a few minuites to recover. Looking back I can't believe how bad I felt, after a few minutes I stood up and had to sit back down as I had a really bad bout of dizzyness.
This is how i started the text I sent Mrs Fingalo as I sat there: "Triple disappointment. Think I finished last, the uphill section killed me so I had to walk a bit third time round and thirdly and most important, I didn't enjoy it one little bit!"
She said later she thought I was suicidal!
When I felt a bit better and after a knowingly sympathetic smile from a young lady opposite me, I walked over to chat with one of the stewards. Although I had thought I was last (and collecting my bag, now alone save for one other, lent weight to the idea) it seems there were a few after me so that made me feel slightly better, it had also registered with me that it was probably the third fastest of the 5k's I'd done, even with the hill and walking a section, which cheered me a little more. Already I was finding some nuggets of optimism and at the time I'm writing this, I've decided I'll probably give it another go this week, primarily because it being Paddy's Day on Sunday they've asked participants to wear something green and they're going to run the course in reverse.
Now being all sensitive an' all that I should be mightily insulted at the implication, however as it means I won't have to tackle that feckin' hill again and is the only reason I'm even considering going again, I'll let it pass. And I might even get to show off my shirt, I was so wrecked at the end of the run it was the last thing on my mind to remove my jacket.
Hoi Greeners, have you got a green buff I could get a loan of?
Postscript: Oh my aching legs! All day after the run I could feel aches in places I've not felt before and even yesterday they were slightly sore, this next day pain being probably only the third or fourth time since I've started running.