So, my running downtime is over, and I got called up for duty today at this year’s Bristol Mo Run. Katie put me up to it – “come on, it’ll be a right laugh. I’ll wear a big stick-on moustache and we’ll race again, just like old times at parkrun”. That was enough. I checked the Race Briefing – “Should we run it together?”, “No. We’re professional athletes. We will race” was the response – “Okay, I’ll leave you behind then”.
I’m completely behind the Movember charity, promoting awareness of testicular cancer. One of my younger brothers, Andrew, was diagnosed in January, and while he is doing OK now, after an operation, he can certainly vouch for the importance of the awareness that Movember provides – Andrew found it after it had been there for about three months – just feeling uncomfortable. It was removed successfully, but had it gone for another month or two then it could have spread to his chest, requiring chemo.
I knew that travel would be a bit of an ordeal, so I set off early and encountered the fog of all fogs, starting as I left the house, disappearing after a bit, then returning at Bristol. I arrived at the wrong car park, and experienced the Brizzle parkrun crowd – an absolutely tiny car park, but far more people running and cycling in too.
Found the alternative car park and just started to get changed when the whoops of excitement began – Katie had found me! Some strange looks came over from the car next to us, but they hadn’t seen anything yet!
We headed off to the Registration desk, and got the first smile of the day. I didn’t register myself for this run, so my name... errr... it wasn’t quite right. Never mind, all part of the fun.
Pre-race loo-time, and while Katie patiently queued up with pretty much all of the other runners, I headed off on my first warm-up of the day. This took me to a tree, and there was no queue there. Feeling suitably relieved, I turned to head back to Race HQ. To my shock, there were two people about twenty feet to the right of me, by a bush and I was accosted by the sight of two bare bottoms – full-on, as a couple of “ladies” had also jumped the queue. I hurried back.
Katie asked me if I thought she had put on weight - "no, I think that you may have lost a bit" was my practiced response. During our little warm-up, I was demonstrating my flexibility by tapping my butt with each flick. Being proud of my flexibility, I pointed this out - "oooh, you've grown a butt" was the response. Clearly this is why I can now do it with ease!
We met up with a work colleague (who appeared just a little scared for some reason - us, not the race!). Then had a warm-up from British Military Fitness, and headed off to the start, remembering to get close to the front as possible, since this was a “proper race”. Pre-race briefing was brief – good stuff about the cause, then “the 10K course is two laps”.
Within the first kilometre, I realised that this was a tough one. Pretty much straight into an incline, with closely packed stone underfoot. So much reminded me of the GLCL races at Tredomen. After what seemed like forever, winding up the hill, we came to an “out-and-back” – running straight into the fog. Couldn’t really see further than two runners in front with the fog, but we diligently trudged through the puddles. Spotted a friendly photographer on the way down, so I tried my attempt at a “two gun salute” – Richard Whitehead it was not, but hopefully it’ll make a fun photo.
Personally, I hate it when you have a tough two-lapper as you pre-remember the pain from the first time around. My head went to other places this time, remembering the “Pirate Ship” training with the NEWTS last year. Here’s where I admit to a little walk – Heart Rate had hit 180, so I walked until it got down to a more reasonable 175 before carrying on.
It was about this point when I had a nasty feeling – my Garmin wasn’t matching the Km markers. Each sign was pretty much exactly a kilometre behind. I just thought that they may have messed it up to give us a surprise quicker finish at the end.
Wound my way to the top of the hill again, then got to the “out-and-back” – the Marshalls sent us round again– just as foggy, dull and puddly. Thought that this was all of the people ahead of me – counted the blokes on, and cheered the “first lady”. Katie was two ladies behind her (in the race, that is), so doing well. Got back to the Marshall point to find others being sent straight down the hill towards home. I expressed my dissatisfaction briefly, then thought that they must have been on the 5K run. The “first lady” was briefly joined by her husband and child, before leaving him behind, only to be passed by me on the way down the hill. At this point, I started to panic – really didn’t want to be the first lady home myself!
Further down the hill, there appeared to be many more runners than I expected – plenty that I hadn’t seen before.
The race finished as all good races finish – up a short incline. I stopped, and waited for Katie – strangely, with loads more people in front of her.
After the race, “first lady” came over and told me that we were only meant to do the “out-and-back” once. My Garmin said 11.25K – oops. Further examination of the map show that it is mentioned, though better signage and more at tentative marshalls would have helped (like the ones at naughty corner at Newport parkrun) . Further examination of the results show a seven minute gap between positions six and seven – I wonder if this is where it happened – my brain is pretty much on hold when running, so I am guilty as the next person of following along.
We headed for the goody-bags, and got some lovely MoMedals, crisps, water and protein ice-cream (wow!). Back to the car, and this is where I worried the parking neighbours. Set up the music and amused Katie for three minutes with a demo of what I’d been doing recently. She was especially wowed by the chiffon (which is new), though she did made a point of telling the poor people in the car next to us about my four children. Such fun!
The main messages for me today are:
- Movember – raise awareness, if you’ve got them, check them. If you have (correct and proper) access to someone else’s, check ‘em too.
- Read the course map in detail – don’t rely on the person in front
- Marshalls, realise that Runners can be a bit dumb during a race, anything complicated then try to point it out to them – one sign would have done it!
- Have fun!
Thanks for listening, Nigel.
Medal Photo credits: Ryan Richards - http://www.fstopeventphotography.co.uk/