I’m officially out of races – even virtual races – to review. Later this year is looking hopeful for the return of in-person running events, but in the meantime I will cast my mind back to my early days of running!
The Great North 5k in 2015 was the first race I ever ran. I was thirty then but look much older in the photo than I currently do at thirty-six because I was so heavy and unfit back then!
I was really proud of finishing this race. I’d trained for it all summer, in the balmy days of June and July and August and even in the heat of the south of France for a week – but never, somehow, in the pouring rain that showed up right on time for race day! (By the next day, it was glorious sunshine again, just as it always is on Great North Run day.)
I mainly remember the pre-race nerves and the ‘warm-up’ led by a Mr Motivator type (standard for mass races) that seemed to go on and on and on when everybody on the start line just wanted to get going. Eventually we were off, and although the combination of the rain and my glasses meant I couldn’t really see what was going on, I found that the adrenaline of the crowd meant that I ran considerably faster than I had ever done in training, and so I finished in 35:51, which is a sedate 5k time for me nowadays but on that day was a whole fifteen minutes faster than I expected to finish.
Another unexpected thing was the atmosphere of the start/finish area, which felt like a music festival. Geth (who had come to cheer me on) was especially impressed by this aspect, and it was part of the reason that he decided to start running too. He offered to get me a ‘well done’ present, and so I chose this book by The Oatmeal that I’d been eyeing up in the comic shops.
It’s still one of my favourite running books.
I don’t enter 5k races anymore (even during non-pandemic times) because parkrun fills that space for me (when it’s on… roll on June or whenever it eventually comes back). However, that just makes the memory of those early 5ks even more special. Once upon a time, it was an impossible-seeming distance.