WHAT: 10k road race
WHERE: Stanborough Park, Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire
WHEN: 14th February 2016
It disappeared. Nothing happened in particular, no traumatising events, but the love I had for running just didn't seem to be there any more. I was in between trail marathons, with only a month to go to the next and every step felt forced and difficult, stops every 15 minutes seemed necessary and any sign of speed was inexistent.
I booked the Love Welwyn Garden City 10k race just to check I could still even run that far without stopping. Race day competitiveness and discipline would hopefully see if I was capable. Although I wouldn't be gunning for a time, the only aim was to not stop and hopefully rediscover a love for running.
Being just over a mile from my front door, the race at least was easy to fall for. My travel time is normally at least an hour to a race and I've certainly never run to a start line before. I smugly rolled out of bed with enough time to digest my oats before opening the door, rather than eating porridge from a pot held between my legs whilst I try to keep my eyes open long enough to follow the sat nav.
All the smug disappeared from my face as soon as the race started. My low confidence had me shuffle to the very back of the pack but I still found myself running uncomfortably fast to not be left behind. The good thing about a local race? The DNF walk of shame wouldn't be as long.
Mercifully, bottlenecks on the pavements slowed everyone down and gave me a chance to relax and catch my breath (nerves had me almost holding onto it – no wonder I was struggling). Laughing at my own ridiculousness seemed to be the icebreaker I needed. Running has never been serious for me, it's my hobby, the thing I choose to do with my free time. If I wasn't enjoying it, this was the time to give up and go home. That moment of amusement seemed to do the trick... I kept running.
And eventually, I found my stride. I had no watch to tell me my splits or to tell me my pace was dipping. I just ran however felt good, and it all felt good! That tug on my heart, the happy glow... With each kilometre, I was falling back in love, not wanting to stop until about 30-seconds before the end – which I guess is expected in a race.
So I achieved the second part of my aim for the race. What about the first? To not stop? Well, 50-percent isn't bad, is it? Whilst I know I could have continued running, the Instagrammer in me just couldn't run past a car whose number plate provided me with my own personal cheer sign!