Whilst I’m recovering from being brutalised by the gruelling heat at the Dunblane Road Race yesterday, I’ll leave you in the capable hands of my friend Claire, the Gin-Soaked Jogger, who has written an account of her first-time experiences at last week’s Baker Hughes 10k.
Buckfast Bolter? Tinny Trundler? Gin-Soaked Jogger – A note to a would-be-runner.
Firstly I suppose I should caveat any athleticism related to this post and freely admit I am 163cm tall, I weigh about 11st, I hit the gym enough to take care of the amount of pizza I eat and I love a bevvy.
I like to think I have a decent handle on my fitness. As long as my pizza-to-skinny jeans ratio is in order, I’m fairly content. I’ve never been a serious runner, have enjoyed playing full contact/touch rugby and cycling a bit; but have never before embarked upon a 10k race in Aberdeen.
Photographs used with kind permission from Roz Galloway
Having signed up for the 2012 Baker Hughes 10k around four months ago, I assumed I had plenty of time to get into shape and to expect to cross the finish line in a respectable time. I made the mistake of assuming a moderately fit individual like myself could expect to sail over a 10k finish line like a semi-pro, with an abundant surplus of glittering energy to spare. However, after waiting until I had around 7 weeks until race day to really start training properly, as opposed to hitting the treadmill at an easy, pedestrian pace, the creeping realisation of my ignorance started to loom.
Anyone who owns a pair of decent running trainers knows 10ks are largely regarded an “undemanding” distance; booting out 10k in an under an hour is “easily achievable”, especially for would-be athletes, marathon-chinners and all-round ass-kickers like my chum Red Wine Runner. I’d like to say to any the would-be, fair weather athletes such as myself out there; No, it’s not.
I would also like to say to any other novice joggers and weekend warriors; be prepared to awaken muscles you never knew you had. Being in pain from sports is one thing, but brand new pain is quite distracting. Who knew your ribs and clavicle muscles could get sore whilst running? Also standby for your previously pedicured toes to start moulding into garbled, bloodied stumplings, leaving you with more of a trotter than a foot. Be aware that parts of you that don’t chafe usually – might begin to chafe, when you start clocking in some miles. “Chub-rub” (upper thigh friction) is a mile-munching menace!
Bear in mind also, running outdoors on steep hills, over crumbly kerbs, dodging jakeys, dog turds and traffic is FAR more difficult than chugging out a mile or two in the comfy shelter of an air-conditioned gym, gawping at Beyonce on a plasma screen, whilst sipping a chilled energy drink and dabbing your brow with a fresh hand-towel. Speaking of shelter, rain can [and will] get you from all angles, especially when training on an Aberdonian beachfront. A decent waterproof can make a polar difference to a strong run and a “I give in” hobble. Lastly, be prepared to take firmer control of your bodily movements. As I nearly found out, your otherwise safe little toilet schedule may be subject to rapid and unexpected change. Be careful – no one likes a poopy pants.
Around about the month-to-race-day mark, I found that I would bottom-out (no pun intended) on the treadmill after around 4k, and crumble like Cadbury’s flake after about 3.5k road-running, so one Friday night I asked my seasoned runner chum Red Wine Runner for some training tips. To which she imparted this little nugget of advice, rich in its’ brevity:
“Just don’t stop.”
Easy enough for an ultra/marathon runner to quip, (whilst glugging a tin of lager I might add!), but when all my reading-up and treadmilling was officially not working, I decided to give “not stopping” a go. Would you believe it?! She was right!
Before I knew it, it was 7 days prior to the Baker Hughes 10k. In conducting a little dress-rehearsal I felt infinitely better equipped to take on a 10k race. I found that familiarising myself with the actual terrain I’d be facing on the day was irreplaceably helpful. Having the luxury of living in the same town in which I’d be racing meant I could have a few dummy-runs, as it were. Most of these I did with a chum, Lucy. Although Lucy’s pace is slower than I’d usually run I really enjoyed her consistent tempo. I would usually start running like a Special Ed kid on fire – pace all over the shop – running like Phoebe from “Friends” …but running with a comfortingly reliable pacemaker like Lucy helped me sort that right out. Cheers Luce.
So 7 days and a few staggered 5k jogs (and some leg/arse strengthening weights sessions) in between, the Baker Hughes 10k was here – and I was ready.
Trembling like a crapping terrier with nerves, I was at the starting line. Aiming to skim around the 1hour 15mins mark as I had done in practice, I waited with the thousands of others whilst the thoroughbreds down the front sprinted out of the blocks, aiming to clock in their lightning-fast finishes. Basking in the uncharacteristically warm weather, I reckoned by about the first kilometre I’d be sweating like a Geordie in a maths test. Having prepared for “washing-machine-weather” adding wet kilos onto your bodyweight and a typical Aberdeen coastal wind, on the day the sun was well and truly out and the race was on!
To be honest, I’m unable to deliver a kilometre by kilometre account of my race performance, how dull for you I’d imagine, dear reader. Maybe due to the heat, or the adrenaline rush, or my lack of rigid game plan, I don’t really recall what I was thinking all the way round other than: “Just don’t stop.”
One thing I can say however, having so many people cheering and clapping; my parents, my gorgeous training partner Lucy (sadly stricken down with illness prior to race-day), and my wonderful boyfriend cheering me on as I sprinted to the finish line; I found running the 10k a fantastic experience that I’d definitely consider doing again.
I suppose the take home message I’d share with anyone attempting their first 10k, on a base of moderate fitness is, like RWR said: “Just don’t stop.”
Although it sounds like a smug mantra, uttered by honed athletes and effortlessly muscular runners, I found this bit of advice extremely helpful. If you’re anything like me, then you may find the temptation to “just stop” when pushing yourself out of the clichéd comfort-zone is pretty high. I’m sure even those annoyingly determined, samurai-style disciplined over-achievers out there have their days where they felt more like the fly than the windshield. But I can honestly say Red Wine Runner’s brief advice holds a lot of gravity for me. I’ve definitely learnt the value of momentum over the last month:
JUST DON’T STOP!
Sweating, smiling and sprinting, I crossed the line in a not-too-glacially-slow 1 hour and 6 minutes and I was honestly thrilled with my time. I’m still beaming, actually. I had a great day, smiling with the crowd, waving to my supporters, raising money for a local charity and giggling my way round the course looking at runners in suffocating costumes. The post-race beers were also some of the best I’ve had in a while, nothing like a cold one (or five) when you’ve earned it!
It would seem that even a gin-soaked-jogger like me can cross the finish line. And if I can do it, so can you.