Wednesday, 28 March 2018

So I am Good at Running after all

I have been running for many years but that doesn’t make me good at it, not if your definition of “good” is to break 20 minutes for a 5K (or even 25 minutes these days), run an ultra-marathon, or even actually look like I’m running. Sometimes, however, I am good at it, if your definition of “good” is to enjoy at least some part of it or to (normally) be able to walk the next day regardless of distance, terrain or pace.

And last Sunday, I was good, really good. Better than I have been in a long time. Why? Because I absolutely loved every single one of the 210 minutes I was running for. The smiley faces, welcoming shouts and friendly abuse from the organisers, marshals, fellow runners and public along the way. My biggest pre-race anxiety, once I’ve actually got there, is always whether the loo will flush, but on Sunday I accounted for the clocks going forward and else everything worked just fine.

I knew the route would be lovely. Windsor Great Park is home turf, I know it like the back of my hand and even know when the Queen will be driving through on her way to church. But what really made it good, was that it was organised by my running club and I was running with a friend. At least for the first fifteen miles anyway, then I needed a pit stop and her superior training paid dividends as she pulled away. We occasionally spoke, but not often and I don’t think we did at all after ten miles. Comfortable, relaxed silence interspersed with banter from the marshals (“there’s a downhill bit that way somewhere” – thanks Ron!!).

This run wasn’t a race, it was a 20 miles training run for the marathon season organised by my UK club, the Datchet Dashers. We had marshals so that if it all went to pants someone could get us home, and we had race numbers so the marshals could identify us from the other runners. It was a safe, secure environment for those needing a long run. And of course, the camaraderie of being with others. We did have a briefing (respect the other park users, don’t drop litter and don’t get run over crossing the road), we did sign in and out and there was an amazing lady on a tail bike who had a pocket full of chocolate and laughed all the way round with the folks at the back. But there was no clock, no official start line and no actual finish line. It was just a bunch of slightly crazy people going for a run with wonderful volunteers who had given up their Sunday morning.

So, on Monday morning, as the descent started into Toulouse, where the running experience is just the same, only with more cow bells (French marshals love their cow bells!!), I was really hoping that walking backwards down the stairs off the plane wouldn’t cause too many strange stares, and now, two days later I am still buzzing over how “good” at running I am.

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So I am Good at Running after all I have been running for many years but that doesn’t make me good at it, not if your definition of “good...