Today you get a double-whammy of posts, as otherwise I’ll never catch up with myself!
So, my friend Chris, a lovely and insane chap, belongs to Bexley Athletics Club. I’ve known Chris for a while and he and I see each other at the gym regularly.
In April, he suggested that I should come and run for Bexley in the Southern Athletics League. Despite my protestations that I couldn’t run fast enough, had never run on a track and didn’t know what athletics meets involved, he persuaded me that any performance was an okay performance because even the worst performance earned the club points.
The day itself arrived and I can truly say that I’d never been in worse shape. The day before I’d done the Fan Dance – a 24km military test in which you climb Pen Y Fan in Brecon twice – and I was absolutely shattered, had a twisted ankle and legs so stiff they closely resembled the Tin Man’s. It’s stunning but it’s definitely steep!
However, I drove out to Abingdon like a good – and terrified – little runner, and arrived just after midday.
The first thing I noticed was quite how friendly everyone was. Chris was out throwing things (legitimately, not in a temper tantrum way – shot-puts and javelins and that sort of thing) so I didn’t know anyone when I got there. I just headed for the sea of bright orange and was immediately drawn into the circle of athletes. This didn’t actually make me feel any better at all, I must admit, because I really didn’t want to let them down by being so rubbish!
Eventually my event, the 3000 metre, came up. We headed out on track, having done a couple warm up stride lengths down the back straight first. 3000 metres is 7.5 times around the track so it’s a difficult distance because it involves both pace and endurance. This was something I hadn’t quite appreciated – never having done the distance before, as usual, well prepared! – and I went out quite hard on the first couple of laps. I then proceeded to blow up nicely some time in lap 3 and practically have to crawl home. I kept jogging though and eventually finished in a time of 14:34:8.
Although I was last, Bexley nonetheless asked me at the last minute to do the 1500 metre as well (as Chris had said, they really were desperate at the time for runners!). I liked the 1500 metre a lot more mostly because I’d paced it a bit better, but also because someone even slower was in the race – woo hoo! So although I was slow as slow – 06:59:9 – at least I’d managed not to come last. Win.
Overall I enjoyed the day although I was so shattered at the end I almost had to be poured into my car to go home. The people were absolutely lovely and so non-judgmental, and it made me far less scared of the entire process. The best bit was that if you were a member of England Athletics (which I got as part of my Bexley AC membership, since I had to join Bexley to run), you get a Power of 10 profile!! Oh yeah! How to feel like a real athlete … specially since, as there’d only been four people in the 3000 metre and two in the 1500 metre, I look like I didn’t do so badly! Ha!