It has taken me quite a while to realize that running a race does not necessarily mean to suffer as I just could not start slow enough or curb my enthusiasm at the start of a race.
However only last weekend I entered a local 10k. It was for the children of two good friends and it was a great social occasion. But there was also a lot of people there who were not runners or relatively new to the sport, and they expected me as someone who was running longer than they were, to put in a performance of some kind. Now without doing much training I knew my chances of getting within 5 minutes of my PB were slim and therefore starting slow enough to actually enjoy the race was going to be a problem. I really wanted to enjoy this race and not feel like I’m going to die for over an hour after the finish line
But I found a few friends who were at the back of the starting line, and we chatted away until the starter uttered a few words over the microphone. At this stage my friends started ushering me towards the front but I said I had loads of time. I knew I didn’t and just as I was about to move forwards, the gun went to start the race.
Well there’s starting slow and there’s starting slow but I had lined up behind the walkers, many of whom were pushing buggies with infants in them and as the road was very narrow, getting past was very difficult. This did mean that I had a very slow start that took almost 500m before I got into anything close to a run. By the time I did, I had relaxed, I had no pressure to perform, just settle into a nice pace for five or six kms and try and pick it up for the last few kms.
I managed this quite well, which led to a time pretty much as I expected but just without the usual suffering through a race. I finished well down the pack, and this for once didn’t bother me. The virtual pecking order in my head had been torn apart and I knew from now on that I could race and pace myself to an enjoyable finish without killing myself. I was learning to quash my ego and enjoy the process rather than the result.
I can just about be seen at the back of this pic.