For anyone who knows me you will know I’m not one for entering races. I’m frequently being ‘encouraged’ by others in the Club to enter events and I’ve even been known to wriggle out of a few. For some reason about 4 weeks ago, spurred on by everyone’s success stories at the Sandhurst Joggers Annual Ball, I found myself entering the Maidenhead Easter 10 mile road race. I proudly told Jim Laidlaw, Patrick Wadsworth and Dave Bartlett what I had done and then to my surprise found they too all subsequently entered the event too – well there was no going back! Having only run one 10k event last August and having only run around 12k on a fairly regular basis it was going to be a reasonable challenge to get up to speed at this new distance.
Having agreed to drive, on the Friday morning I duly collected Patrick and Dave and we took a leisurely run out to Maidenhead. I was feeling a little nervous but not anywhere near as much as I thought I might. It was good to have the support and company of my fellow runners who I regularly run with. We picked up our numbers and dropped off our bags and both me and Dave were surprised to watch Patrick cooly demolishing a cup of tea from the stand shortly before the race.
Other Sandhurst Joggers appeared and we all exchanged pre-race banter and encouragement before heading off for a gentle warm up jog and making our way to the start line. It wasn’t long and we were off. I started nice and steady and gradually built up a little speed over the first 1km. By the second km I had settled into a steady 8.30(ish) minute mile pacing. The run takes you around the business park and then out towards the main road. Before reaching the main road you head back towards the business park for a second lap. Some people have mentioned this is boring but it made a good warm up lap and it was good seeing and shouting out encouragement to the faster SJ’s running back the other way. By the time we finished the second lap of the park I was glad not to have to do it again.
Having not run or properly trained at this distance I was not sure how to ‘fuel’ and had packed a few jelly babies. At around mile 3, just before a water station I duly popped two jelly babies into my mouth. Oh dear too many I found and they went around and around like glue in my mouth. I got to the water station and was pleased to be able to take a big but messy swig of water to dispel the horrid gloop from my mouth. We then headed out into the countryside which was more interesting but as we headed out across a lane/path across the edge of a field full of rape seed I could see the runners ahead of me snaking for what appeared to be a rather long way into the distance. I was keeping a really steady pace and was starting to feel quietly confident – ‘I’m doing it’ I thought! Shortly after I started to feel a stitch coming on. The stupid jelly babies I thought. I kept on plodding away and gradually the stitch passed.
At around the 6 miles marker Patrick suggested I took another jelly baby. ‘No, they are horrid and gave me a stitch’ I said. One mile later I regretted that decision as my legs that had felt full of running started to feel heavy and I hit a brick wall. For the next two miles my pace dropped and I lost around 1 minute per mile. Dave gradually pulled away into the distance. At last I reached the 9 mile mark and I gradually started to increase my pace and as we re-entered the business park Patrick said ‘come on pretend it’s a Monday night and Jim (Laidlaw) is racing you back through Snaprails back to the Sports Centre’. Up my pace went and I was pleased to finish the race on a strong note.
I was very pleased with my first attempt at 10 miles and extremely glad to see the finish line. I even said I’d do another 10 mile race in the future and when Dave said ‘we should put in for a half’ I found myself saying ‘maybe’! I feel like I’ve proved to myself I can run and I’ve earned the right to wear my new SJ’s vest. Thank you to everyone for the encouragement and special big thanks to Patrick and Dave.