Last month I took part in my first Kevin Henry 5k, running for Cambridge Triathlon Club. I’d felt like a fraud wearing a club vest and fell over on a hot, dusty airfield. But this was the last race of the series and we were in contention for the win (each of the 6 clubs gets points for each runner, as well as for the fast finishers), so on went the vest and I cycled out to the University Athletics Track.
The sun was in my eyes as I rode along Madingley Road, in a foul mood due to a shocking day at work. While I locked my bike up my clubmates ran past on a warm up, so I waved and headed over to where we were doing a group photo.
As I smiled for the camera I realised I’d left my garmin on my bike and was keen for the photo session to be over so I could go and retrieve it. I was also keen not to feature too prominently in the photos as I’ve only been in the club for five minutes, I’m not in the peak physical condition that everyone else seems to be in, and I just had my hair cut and feel shy!
At the start there was some confusion about the course but it’s only a concern if you’re leading, so I wasn’t too worried. That said, I was gripped by nerves! I think I felt pressure due to incidents in the week conspiring to give this disproportionate importance.
We set off on a lap around the track (which looked spectacular: a snake of runners stretching out in the sun, all club vests and brightly coloured shorts) before heading out onto the Coton footpath. The sun was in our eyes and there were occasional posts in the middle of the path, but other runners were shouting out warnings so I didn’t see any collisions
Two clubmates were ahead and I resolved to not let them get away, and ignored the fact that they were chatting as they ambled along.
We looped through the Institute of Manufacturing, a faculty that my mum tells me has excellent tea and coffee making facilities, and then back out onto the footpath for another loop. At the furthest point of the course I was passed by a club mate. I tried to keep up with her but she slowly edged away (she told me afterwards that I look nice and relaxed when I run – which is a first, as I am usually incredibly tense!)
As we headed back to the track I concentrated on breathing, keeping my knees up and not running into a post. We rejoined the track and I saw the masses of people who’d already finished – I was definitely in the bottom quartile! With 200 metres to go I focused on not looking goofy for the photographer on the line, who totally missed me and my vanity was for nothing.
I stopped my watch. 25:50, my first 25:something! I’m really pleased. Yes, it’s still slow. But it’s progress, and shows that the work I’ve been doing is starting to pay off. It’s motivating me to train more and get better – I actually think it might be possible. I could have pushed harder at the end but I wasn’t sure of myself.
As a bonus, at the end I spotted a familiar-looking face, beaming after running sub-21 – my twitter pal Lauren! It was cool to meet her in person. PB’s in the evening sun. Happy days.
AND Cambridge Triathlon Club won the league, both men’s, women’s and overall!