3 Miles

This morning was my Sport Relief run.

I got up and was feeling pretty good, if a little nervous. I showered, dressed and pulled on my special red socks.

The snazzy red socks, as predicted they looked better on the Saturdays. And turned out to be extremely uncomfortable.

I got a lift down to Swansea and wandered over to starting point by the Museum. The weather was glorious, with the sun beating down on Swansea which made things look really lovely, but didn’t inspire confidence, as I imagined that the heat would make the run more difficult.

There were lots of people milling around and while there were some “proper” runners warming up I felt reassured by the presence of other chubsters and little children.

I attempted to reassure myself, that I had done this distance before and that I’d be fine, but a nagging feeling was gnawing away at me. I was running in front of people, the PTB could have been biding their time to ensure that my failure was as public as possible to maximise the humiliation.

Contender, ready!

I warmed up, recieving instruction from an odd couple in lycra who were going round encouraging people and clearly there as a morale boost. My sister had thrown me under the bus as they approached, but they made her and the rest of my family join in, so my sis had kind of shot herself in the foot. They were entertaining, and had the same kind of demented energy you see in kids’ entertainers.

Wandered over to where a drumming group were banging away and some pretty girls were dancing. Three enthusiastic LC2 employees led the crowd in a rather enthusiastic warm up routine, that I’m glad I didn’t take part in as it seemed a bit OTT, and many of the runners looked done in before they’d even started.

Then it was time for us to get in position.

At the front, the six milers- proper runners and the extremely foolhardy.

The middle- myself and the other 3 milers, a mixed bag of ages and physical fitness.

The back- one milers, including most of the little kids and their parents.

We were bunched in quite tightly and it took a while to get enough room to find a rhythm, made more difficult that there was a bottleneck in the first half-mile, meaning just as you got used to running properly you were then forced to slow and crowd over a narrow bridge.

Then we got going. It was roasting, and my red socks were a nightmare. They seemed a little too thick and my feet were uncomfortably hot within minutes of starting.

It wasn’t long before I regretted not bringing my iPod headphones. Without Queen and Co. blaring in my years I could hear my breathing which sounded ragged and heavy. It probably always does, but I have the music to distract me.

Also, I kept getting distracted by various people’s conversations. I could have been in my own little bubble and it would have been easier for me to focus on my own run.

I guess its only natural that as you run with a big group it begins to effect you. Someone would blaze past me and I’d worry I was going too slow and speed up, pushing myself a little too hard. I’d try to pace myself, that it wasn’t a race and I needed to focus on my own run, not everyone else’s.

But it was tricky, and I did struggle until finally I settled into a more comfortable pace and distracted myself by people watching my fellow runners.

Rather depressingly, I was overtaken in the early stages by a man wearing what looked to be a very heavy, and warm, monkey costume. But he was only doing 1 mile so I guess he didn’t need to conserve his energy.

I came alongside one bloke, a heavy-ish, sweating guy. “Didn’t think it’d be this hot!” he panted at me. I smiled, and agreed, asked him how far he was doing. The full 6, although I must admit he was looking to be having a rough time of it. “I twisted my ankle a little while ago”. I asked if he was okay, and advised him that he shouldn’t risk damaging it more if it was hurting him a lot. He fell away and I left him behind. I hope he finished, or at least managed 3 miles.

I also saw:

  • Several proper runners, usually at a great distance, vanishing around corners in front of me
  • A gaggle of teenage girls in a mixed bag of costumes, I couldn’t discern any theme in their clothing, but I wasn’t complaining. Another gaggle were doing it in regular clothing, and they seemed to have done it on a whim, with little to no training, as by the 2 mile mark they were walking along, gasping.
  • A fit, in both senses, woman who I passed three times. She was running with a friend, and while clearly outpacing me kept stopping- to sneak off behind a wall for a toilet break, to stretch and finally when her friend got a stitch.
  • A young lad, 6-8 years old, who was running with his dad, who tried to rein him in, with little success. The kid was going hell for leather, but I only saw him once, so don’t know if he burnt himself out.
  • A guy in one of those skintight suits with a full hood, which he sensibly abandoned in the first 1/2 mile.
  • A boy on a scooter, which looked much easier
  • A girl with breasts so big I feared she would knock herself out. I must admit that this distracted me greatly and I almost ran into a bin.

A little after the halfway point I met the man who would annoy me the most. A fairly fit older bloke, who I imagine was once a proper runner. He came steaming up behind me and overtook. However, 200 yards later I found him reduced to a snail’s pace and passed him.

Obviously a competitive fella, and I think a little miffed to be passed by a chubster like me, he obviously pushed himself on and overtook me again a little while later. Again, it wasn’t too long before I found myself passing the guy again. He was panting, and had slowed right down.

Now, the run is not a race, and I viewed it as just a way of raising money and as a marker for my improvement in health since this jogging thing got started back in November.

But, I felt this guy was, as I said, competitive, and his ego must’ve been bruised, because he caught and passed me for a 3rd time. It kind of annoyed me, although I’m aware I could’ve been reading too much into it. But he seemed to have the snobby attitude of some “proper runners” without their fitness levels.

But, I thought, let him go and focused on my own run.

I had about half a mile to go, and for the third and final time passed my cheering section- my parents, oldest and youngest sisters, and my older sister’s husband. They whooped and cheered and clapped, and snapped photos that will no doubt show me red faced and looking rough.

I’ve started to think I need to take water on my runs, as they get longer and the temperatures start to climb. I gratefully accepted an offered bottle a little over a mile in, and chugged it through the rest of the race. However, my first swig went down the wrong way and I choked a little. But I was alright, and I sipped from it and poured some over my head to cool off.

I crossed the bridge back towards the finish line, and wanting to finish strong sped up. Then I saw him, my nemesis. He too appeared to be going quite fast to the finish, and I thought nothing more of it.

I felt myself start to tire and turned the final corner. I had about 80 yards to go, and there, some 30 yards in front of me was the bloke. Again, he had slowed right down. Had he felt the same macho pride behind the two women who were between us? And pushed too hard to beat them?

And then, the macho pride seized me. Like a hypocrite, and forgetting my entire “its not a race” ethos, I decided I wanted to beat him. I sped up, pushing myself to go faster, passing him with about 20 yards to go, and keeping going, crossing the line a good 5-10 seconds before him.

Petty? Yes.

Satisfying? You bet your ass.

I’d clocked in a time of 36 minutes and 35 seconds, and my pedometer showed I’d ran 5.15km.

I felt knackered, but immensely elated.

Me after the run. Tired, but happy.

I’d done it, I’d raised money for a good cause and ran 3 miles, something which less than 6 months ago I wouldn’t have considered a possibility. I’d struggled a bit in the heat, but I hadn’t slowed down at all, and was chuffed that I’d ran the whole thing.

I grabbed another bottle of water and chugged some down gratefully, letting myself warm down a little.

A volunteer handed me something, a medal. Just a cheap, mass produced metal disc, but possibly the only medal I’ll ever get. I felt buzzed, it would be a good thing to keep as a reminder and reflected how I felt- like a winner.

My family congratulated me and I’ve recieved lots of messages of support on Facebook, and that’s been fantastic.

Its over 6 hours since I finished and I still feel a little bit of the buzz. I don’t often feel proud of myself, but today I do, and I like the feeling.

A friend asked me after the run if I’m going to keep going with the running. Yes, I am. I enjoy it, and still want to get healthier, and in 2 years, at the next Sport Relief, I plan to do the 6 miles.

Thanks again to everyone who’s sponsored me or just given me support or positive vibes.

You can still sponsor me, if, like one of my mates you had your doubts and wanted to make sure that I actually did it. Here’s the link again.

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO

5 thoughts on “3 Miles

  1. Congrats man, well done. In two years, if you’re still doing it and I am still reading, perhaps I shall donate. Alas, that i am to broke this time.

    Keep up the good work man!

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