Signs your running event may be in Scotland:
- It’s raining so hard that worms have been washed up from underground.
- There’s a burger van.
- The chick beside you at the starting line is eating a burger from said van AND smoking a fag at the same time.
Yesterday’s race was at Holyrood Park, which winds its way around the bottom of the Seat. And like that fateful day conditions were wet and slippery, so it was a toss-up whether I would collapse first from exhaustion or clumsiness.
The Race for Life had a cracking atmosphere. 7000 women jumped around in the rain waiting for the race to start while puzzled dog walkers looked down at us from the hills. It was an interesting crowd of all ages, shapes and sizes. Some folk had little pink signs on their backs with the names of loved ones they’d lost. Some folk were in fancy costumes. Some were just content to gulp down their pre-race cigarette and let the irony of smoking at a cancer charity event waft over their head.
I ended up starting with the Walkers, due to an existential crisis in which I didn’t think I was Runny enough to be with the Runners. My number 56 was stapled to my t-shirt since there was not a safety pin to be found in our house. Who the hell has safety pins? My mum, my granny, my supremely organised sister; they would have had safety pins. It took Gareth and me around half an hour to attach the stupid number without getting it crooked and/or piercing my boobs but I was happy with the end result.
The race began with intense confusion and claustrophobia as I wove my way through the blur of legs and arms and tiny shorts and puddles, only to be confronted with the Hills of Evil. I grumbled and swore my way upward in a slow and painful manner, hating every damn second.
Finally, the course evened out and soon I’d reached the halfway point. And then something clicked in my brain and I began to run like the wind. Okay, maybe not like the wind. Maybe like a very faint breeze that briefly tickles your nose. But it felt like the wind to me.
The second half felt so smooth and calm and dare I say… enjoyable. I tuned out the crowd and heard nothing but the steady thump thump thump of my ill-fitting shoes.
I know this was Only A 5k, I know it was Just A Charity Event but I can’t begin to tell you what a big deal this was for me and how buzzed I still feel. I tried to disguise my anxiety with jokes in the last entry but I had invested a lot of time and emotional shit into this whole running palaver. Some day I will tell you about how different things used to be, how a few years ago I would have told you I’d eat a bucket of gravel before I’d ever run five kilometres.
I must have looked like an idiot, charging for the finish line in a late burst of speed, my red-blotched mascara-streaked (what possessed me to wear mascara?) face suddenly breaking into a huge, dopey grin. I beat my previous personal best time by almost three minutes.
I was so elated and overwhelmed that my first immediate reaction was to cry. Except all I couldn’t because my second immediate action was to try to catch my breath, so my lungs were confused and all I could do was make these strange strangled chicken noises.
Only when I found Gareth in the crowd did I finally have a wee sob and he was kind enough to just give me a hug and look slightly bewildered.
I guess all I can say is that there is no greater thrill than doing something that you never believed you could be capable of doing.
Thank you to everyone who sponsored me. You not only helped me reached my fundraising target but actually doubled it. This will make the folks at Cancer Research UK very happy. You guys rule the school!