Ah, Run Norwich. Every year I wonder why I keep signing up for you?
Is it that I feel I deserve some kind of mid-summer punishment by running 6 miles I have invariably not trained for, round a hilly route on an absurdly hot day? Who knows? But this year I discovered that my dedication in signing up for every single one since it started had, at least, earned me a tiny gold star on my race number. The man at the expo when I picked up my number was very excited to show me. Apparently, only 7% of runners had done all 5.
Now is normally the time that I start justifying my lack of training for yet another 10k, but this time I won’t even bother. The truth is that this year I’ve been exhausted, but I just kept pushing on, getting tireder and tireder.
I’ve taken a few weeks break from Roller Derby to get my energy back and give my body time to recover, and I’m starting to feel a bit healthier, but not in time to even pretend I was going to train properly for a 10k.
So, I headed off on the day with no expectations whatsoever. I planned to walk up all the hills, and any other places I felt like it. Stop to drink water and generally have a jolly time with a medal and a goodie bag at the end.
Thus I was actually feeling super relaxed as I left the house on a blissfully cloudy Sunday morning.
Naturally by the time we reached the start line the sun had started to burn off the clouds and another hot, sunny and sweaty day was forecast.
I was actually really looking forward to it. The atmosphere at Run Norwich is always great and afterwards, I was going to sit in the shady Chapelfield gardens at the race village and then enjoy a roast dinner and a pint at the pub on the way home. A pretty good day really.
We arrived just 30 minutes before the race start to minimise hanging around. I managed to skip the toilet queues by virtue of seeing someone leave a portaloo, observing for a good 30 seconds and realising no one in the actual queue at the far end of the row had seen it was vacant and nipping in quick, and then joined my race pen to wait for the start with 7000 other runners.
So far, so relaxed and good. I felt pretty positive and amazing if I’m honest.
For the first mile or so I continued to feel amazing. It was hot, but I felt energetic and sprightly. “Hey”, I thought, “I might even do this in a decent time!”
At the first water station just before 5k I was flagging a little, unsurprising as 2.5 miles is the furthest I’ve run recently, so that old “training for the distance” thing was an issue.
I stopped and drank a couple of cups of water, then tried to start running again and nearly puked as the water sloshed around in my stomach, so I sensibly decided to walk for a little while till it all settled down. Then we hit the hill that is Rose Lane, and I wasn’t even going to pretend I was going to run up that, so I walked a bit more. Who cares, right?
Then I WAS going to run all the way down Price of Wales Road because it’s a lovely downhill. But I saw Rock Choir singing, so I decided to stop and take a video for my Mum and Dad who are Rock Choir members down in Kent.
THEN I did a bit more running. But not much because I Riverside Road was really hot, and as I made it up to the 7k mark at the Cathedral, site of my epic 2016 meltdown, I decided to stop and have a nice shady walk to the next water station, which I THOUGHT was just around the next corner.
Turns out it was around about 3 corners and I ended up walking for a good quarter of a mile. The water station, when I found it, was a bit of a shambles, with one table running out of cups already and people grabbing water bottles and just swigging from them. Other tables did still have cups, but this wasn’t communicated very well and people were so hot and thirsty that it was all a bit of a mess.
Then I DID run some more, I ran through the Cathedral, and I ran through Tombland, and I (mostly, there was another small hill, sod that) ran through Castle Meadow. I even ran up Rampant Horse Street, even though it was a hill. I briefly paused to encourage someone who was struggling and offer him some water.
Then I ran over the finish line, collected my medal and goodie bag, made sure that the struggling bloke had made it ok (he had) and collapsed in Chapelfield Gardens to drink my free non-alcoholic beer (booo, bring back the booze I say!)
I finished in a laughably slow and relaxed 1 hour 12 minutes and 58 seconds. But I finished, and to be honest, that’s all I care about this year. People chasing good times really shouldn’t be stopping to video the choirs, or casually sauntering through the Cathedral.
So, will I foolishly sign up again next year? Probably. Especially if they promise me another gold star……