Battersea Park 10k

It was hot when I woke up on Sunday morning, and I was on the wrong side of London. I used to cycle past Battersea Park every day on the way to work – however I was in Finsbury Park and I felt panicked about how to get to Battersea, eventually deciding to take public transport rather than risking getting lost on my bike.

The journey was simple and I got a tea en route, and strolled into the park feeling calmer than first thing. My stomach had been hurting the day before but it felt okay, and although it was sunny there looked to be some shade too.

I picked up my race pack and sat on a bench, pinning on my race number and attaching the chip to my shoe. Pop music blared from a speaker and the race director kept telling people not to use the toilets near the start line as they were busy but to use alternative facilities on the other side of the park. I checked my bag in and walked to the alternative toilets, starting to feel quite queasy. I wondered if this was nerves until my stomach made more decisive grumblings and I picked up the pace, before immediately slowing the pace, as things were not feeling good inside.

The queue for the loos was long and slow moving. It’s such an awful feeling, being in a slow moving toilet queue when you can feel your insides making a bid for freedom. I tried to think of similar situations: needing a wee when you’re stuck in a traffic jam on the motorway came to mind, but it wasn’t a helpful line of thought so I stopped thinking and stared at my watch and the time to the start ticking down.

A few minutes after the race started I finally exited the loos, maybe a kilo or two lighter. I didn’t feel very well but jogged to the start line – which had been dismantled. A few others had missed the start too and the race director took note of our numbers and gave us our own start time. I set off on the first of four laps around the park.

Now, one thing I hate about running is laps. I find them so boring. I don’t even like out-and-backs. I did two laps of Finsbury Park on Saturday and that was just about okay, but FOUR laps. At least I didn’t have to contend with a crowd at the start as the 10k race had started more than 5 mins before, with the 5k race 5 mins before that. I got passed by loads of people, and I entertained myself with a game of “what lap do you think they’re on?”, which is the same-but-different as “how bad am I at running”.

I’d set out wanting to hit 55 mins, which wouldn’t be a PB at all but seemed doable in the heat. Then my stomach decided it was having none of it and anything faster than a jog had me seriously concerned – a chap in tight white shorts and a see-through gilet didn’t help, as I couldn’t help but wonder what he’d do in my situation. At least I was wearing all black, right? What has my life come to that I congratulate myself on wearing clothes that won’t make it too obvious if I poo myself?

I jogged round the rest of the course, finishing in exactly 59 mins, and carried on jogging to the loos, where I spent some quality time before going back for my medal (featuring Battersea Power Station and Battersea Dogs Home). On the way home I curled up on a bench at the station, spent a long time in the loos at Victoria, developed a cold sweat, cancelled my plans for the day, bought some immodium and dragged myself back to Finsbury Park, where I crawled into bed for 24 hours.

With the Kevin Henry 5k on Thursday (where I twisted my ankle), Finsbury Parkrun on Saturday (where I was slow and lethargic) and this, it’s been a disappointing few days of running. I am so very sick of feeling disappointed with myself.

Joining a(nother) club and falling in (and then out) of love with running

I joined a triathlon club *just* before I moved away from London, so even though I really didn’t make the most of being in the club I decided to join another one, with the hope of actually training this time. I was worried about not being good enough for the club so went along to an interval running session, figuring I could run at my own speed around the track, rather than feeling like I was keeping people waiting. I prefer to ride my bike on my own anyway, and I hate coached swims (because I suck at swimming) so didn’t have too many options.

I arrived early for the session and stood about awkwardly before people talked to me. Once I got talking it was fine and people were really friendly. We warmed up and then did pyramids on the track. I was slower than most – but not all! – but surprised myself by doing slightly better than I thought I might. For the next few days I felt quite excited about running and my next run felt easy and fast.

This week it’s been a bit of a disaster. On Monday I ran through the meadows to Grantchester, across to Trumpington and up along the guided busway, but I was tired and my feet hurt and I struggled with motivation.

Yesterday I donned my club vest for the first time and took part in a 5k, one in a series competing against other local clubs. I’d been told that we needed fast people to win it but we also needed people taking part as this got us points. I can do points, I thought. I cycled out to a disused airfield in Witchford, near Ely, and chatted to my new club mates. We set off with the sun in our eyes and I was very careful on the uneven ground with so many people around. By 2k it had thinned and I could relax a little – and 500m later, tripped on a pothole and twisted my ankle.

After standing by the side of the course for 30 seconds, checking out my ankle, I decided that it was probably okay to continue on and began jogging. It was a bit sore and I was cautious of every hole from then on (and there were a lot of holes).

Worse, I felt like I couldn’t be bothered. Up until the fall, I’d checked my time at the end of each kilometre (5:21 for the busy first km, 5:12 as it thinned out on the second), but after stopping I didn’t check any more. I even stopped for a little walk, not because I couldn’t go on or was especially worn out, but because I just couldn’t be bothered.

And then of course, at the end I felt really disheartened as my time wasn’t great (27:45). I found one of my friends and she suggested getting some ice for my ankle, which meant filling in a form – in triplicate – with the St John’s Ambulance. We went to the pub afterwards which did help (I was tempted not to go but I’m glad I did).

Today my ankle hurts quite a lot and I’m annoyed at myself for a) falling over, b) being so easily downhearted and c) looking so terrible in every race photo ever.

Gah. I really thought I was getting better at running. I did intervals twice last week and have upped the amount of running generally that I’m doing, and have been feeling better and stronger… but I guess there’s still so very much to do, and a lot of it is convincing myself that I can actually do it. I’m so worried about failure that I don’t even try, so that I have a ready-made excuse for failing. I need to be braver and *really* try. And if I fail, at least I’ve given it a go, instead of this endlessly disappointing situation I put myself in.