The village of Girton is just outside Cambridge and, as far as I can tell, is famous for a) having black squirrels and b) being the namesake of one of the colleges. I’d never been to Girton as it’s not on the way to anywhere, but saw they were holding a 5k race as part of their summer feast. The website made it sound like a chilled out affair so I signed up.
I left work late and belted up to Girton – I wasn’t sure where I was going but I arrived with ample time. In fact, maybe too much time, as I milled about awkwardly, not knowing anyone and feeling shy. There were some very athletic looking runners and I felt a bit intimidated.
The course was unlike any other 5k I’ve ever done in that there were no loops! Parkruns normally have 2-3 loops (5 at Highbury!), so it was nice that every step was different. It was predominantly on grass and mud, including a playing field and a wooded part, although there was about 250m on the Guided Busway and the final kilometre along the road.
Although I’d taken antihistamines that morning the pollen count was too high for me and I found breathing hard. Hayfever sounds like a pathetic excuse but it’s actually debilitating. This summer I’ve been taking two types of tablets, steroid nasal spray and medicated eyedrops but I still feel/look/sound like utter shit. The only thing that helps is shutting all the windows and sticking the air conditioning on – otherwise I’m a snotty, snivelly, scratchy mess.
What with pollen-induced coughing and spluttering, really needing the loo and getting stuck behind slower runners on the narrow paths, I finally crossed line in 27:59. I carried on running and headed straight for the loos. Such glamour.
I thought about hanging around and chatting to people but I really wanted to get away from the grass and still felt a bit shy/awkward, so I got back on my bike and rode back to Cambridge and went to have a cup of tea with my mum, feeling a bit disappointed with myself.
My first standalone half marathon since March, three weeks after my first half ironman. I signed up for this due to the close-to-home location but forgot to hire a car and had to take a train then a taxi.
Matt came with me, and set off to a pub in Litlington where he’d been promised a good vantage point and discounted bacon rolls.
I eyed up the field. I was worried about coming last and there were a lot of people in club vests. Matt thought I was silly for worrying about coming last and that it had never crossed his mind when racing but I suppose I’m a realist about my running skills. Eventually I spotted some people I thought I might be faster than (as ever, this prediction was totally wrong).
There was an announcement over a loudspeaker that I didn’t hear and we were off. The start of any race is annoying as people struggle to find their pace, and there’s a lot of jostling. I was annoyed to find that my pace was exactly the same as a man who’d had a lot of curry the night before.
Passing through Litlington I gave Matt a wave and we set off on a loop through some villages. Although it’s not far from home I don’t know the area well and rarely knew where I was.
At 9km I suddenly felt a sharp and really uncomfortable pain above my right hip – an actual pain in the backside. I stopped to stretch and prodded it a little, but I spent the rest of the race alternately clutching my bum and trying to drag myself forward at ever-slower speeds.
All the marshals were helpful, asking if I was okay, but I decided I wanted to finish the stupid race and kept going. Matt was lurking 4km from the end and it was nice to see him – he took a short cut to the end so he was able to see me overtake a lady who’d overtaken me several times whenever my shuffling had slowed down too much. I bet she thought I was a moron.
I drank my “free” finisher’s bottle of powerade sitting on the grass, before heading off to have a shower in the school sports centre. It was fantastic to shower although it would have been better had the showers not been operated by poltergeists. My friend Hannah came to pick us up and we went to the pub, where I ate ALL THE THINGS – this is the best thing about running.