Sunday 10th May saw the dawn of the Bristol 10k race. Having carbo-loaded the night before on a vast amount of pasta that I could not finish, I awoke at 6.20am to have my trusty breakfast of weetabix, banana & sultanas. Then went back to bed for another hour and a half. Yep, that's right. I've found the best way to combat race day nerves is to sleep as much as possible until it's time to leave.
The night before, I had arranged to get a lift to the race with a friend from church who was also running. What an amazing woman - she has four small children who she home schools, and has time to run. It didn't really make sense for me to get a lift with her as I live very close to the start of the race, but it is far better to be with people than alone. It was a lovely memory, to walk down Park Street in convoy with 1000's of other runners on their way to the running village, holding the hands of two small boys whose little legs were running to keep up with my leisurely pace.
It's funny how memory works. As I cast my mind back to that morning, everything is in snapshots:
Lots of runners
A lady kneeling by the roadside, replacing her fallen contact lens
Sense of pity. I can empathise
The sight of Bristol Cathedral & college green drawing near, signifying our proximity to the race venue
Excited phonecall from a friend whose husband's running too. Desperate to beat me. Thankful for cake
Photo time. With the kids. Wondering if I'll ever see the photos. Wondering at how I never get any of my own.
Toilet time. Long long queues. Stretch.
Oh gosh look at the time. Run to the start line.
I've lost the family. I'm on my own again.
Take up my position with the 'elite runners', much to my surprise that I am in this category.
Surprised at how 8000 people feels like a small number when you can see the front runners from where you're standing.
A man holding a banana. I say, 'Are you going to eat that as you run?!'
He tells me how he'd forgotten he was holding it til I mentioned it and starts to eat it. It's been a rushed morning for him. Only decided at the last minute he was fit enough to run.
The countdown starts.
Earphones go in. Playlist on pause, ready to go.
Look at the clock. 1min 27 secs. Must remember to look at it as I cross the start line so I can work out my race time. I forget.
We're away. In the zone straight away.
My plan: To push myself for the whole 10k because I know my body can take it..
Loving the speed. Loving the sun. Nervous about dehydration but know it'll be over quick enough for it not to be a problem.
Counting down the kilometres.
7k. My body says it's time to slow down. My music says it's not. I keep the pace up.
400m to go. Sprint I tell myself. I want to stop right now. But it's only a few hundred metres! You've come 9600m so far!
See my friend poised with a camera. I smile & wave, spurred on to the finish.
Sprint, feel like I'm flying & my feet aren't touching the floor.
Beep beep beep over the finish line. Head spinning. Elated.
Oh yes, and this is the picture one of the girls in my class coloured in for me 'for your running' after she'd heard the news that I ran the same race as her mum:
Her Mum's comment - 'Don't take it personally!!'
I thought it was quite amusing. I'm hoping it's not a portrait...