I ran the Regent’s Park 10k two years ago and have fond memories of going to Yumchaa with my brother afterwards. I remember the race as being uneventful, I plodded around in 58 minutes and was quite pleased with myself.
Two years on, I felt nervous. Running is not going well. My legs are perpetually tired and my brain is an insurmountable obstacle in the way of me even getting out for a run a lot of the time. Still, I woke up, got dressed and headed to Regent’s Park on a chilly morning.
I couldn’t hear much of what the race organiser was saying at the start, other than that we should all smile for photos at the finish line. There was a man near me wearing a suit in xmas print. He looked like he might be fast, and it’s always humiliating being beaten by someone in fancy dress (see: London Marathon 2014).
Then we were off! I set off too fast, not chronically so but I kept having to pull it back. It’s hard at the start when there are so many people. I’d started a tiny bit too far forward so lots of people overtook me.
It was a beautiful day, sunny and bright. I’d gone for the footballer look (tshirt with gloves) and was wearing leggings – I normally wear long sleeves and shorts, rather than short sleeves and leggings, so it felt weird. The leggings were new and a bit too big so they slipped down a little but looked jazzy.
At the end of the first lap I was feeling more tired than I’d hoped. I trudged around the second lap feeling a bit worn out and my joints felt tired, like I’d been standing up for 10 hours. Halfway round the second lap, I started to get lapped. At the start of the third lap I got some water and sipped it, hoping that would perk me up. I was a bit defeated by this point and when I got to the 8km marker I walked for a minute, rubbing my right hip, which was sore. Again at 9km I walked for a moment, struggling with motivation.
I ran past the zoo and only on the final lap did I think to look at the animals. Didn’t see any. I turned onto the final straight and thought about sprinting but it felt embarrassing when I was so slow overall.
I crossed the line in 1:00:57. And I didn’t smile for the camera.
There was a long queue snaking across the grass and I joined it, waiting for a medal and a can of drink. Behind me was a Hooray Henry, his voice booming out across the park. At least by running my speed I hadn’t had to run near him. And I beat the man in the xmas suit!
I didn’t go to Yumchaa afterwards (I felt I didn’t deserve it…) but went to Pret instead and had a mint hot chocolate, so my self-flagellation clearly knows some bounds.