My first race


I can't believe it's taken me so long to get around to writing about my first race. Two weeks ago I ran the ABP Southampton 10K. There were three races on that day: a full marathon, a half marathon and the 10K. It was the first time I'd attended a race, let alone run one, so it was a completely new experience to me.


I lived in a little place called Hedge End in Southampton for thirty years and it felt right to do my first race there. I'd never run in Southampton before but I was really looking forward to running around familiar places and sights. I did the 10K with Nicky, one of my Southampton friends. The race village was in Guildhall Square. Ah, the Guildhall.  I went there many a time to see gigs when I was younger. The best gig I've ever been to occurred in that building - Weezer in 2002. Good times!

Anyway, when Nicky and I got to the race village the marathoners and half marathoners were all ready and waiting to go. We watched them set off and gave them a cheer, then we wandered about and did some stretches, waiting for our turn. It was all so new to me. I mean, I've done parkruns before but this was different. There were so many people milling about, lots of different running tops and pairs of trainers to look at (I always look at people's trainers now, you see) and there was loud music playing. It was such a great atmosphere.

My race number

Nicky and I headed to the race queue and we tried to join in with the stretches that the workout man on the stage was showing us but it's pretty hard to execute a lunge when you're crammed into a pen with hundreds of other runners, with every other one of them waving their arm in the air trying to get a Garmin GPS signal. So we jigged about and stretched as best as we could, the whole time conscious that the weather was getting sunnier and warmer with every passing minute. We were weather-prepared, though. We'd suntan lotioned up, we had caps on and I was wearing my "Look a me, I'm a total runtwat!" hydration vest, which may well have looked wanky for a 6.2 mile race, but I was so grateful for it in the end. Our little 10K was the same day as the London Marathon, which ended up being the hottest one on record.

The race started at 10am and we gently jogged through town, past familiar shops, down familiar roads, heading towards the bit I was slightly dreading - the Itchen Bridge. This is a big toll bridge that I'd only ever been across in a car. I've never even walked over it. It's got quite the incline and living in flat-as-a-pancake Cambridge, I'm not used to inclines, but on race day I had to cross this thing. Twice. My brother-in-law used to run over the bridge in his football training days and he said that it's quite a beast so I was a bit perturbed about running over it and I said to myself that I'd walk it if needs be, but I didn't - I ran up and down the bridge both crossings!

Flying feet!

On the second crossing, my sister and my nephew, Dylan, were there cheering us, Sally ringing my parkrun cowbell and shouting motivational things at every passing runner (I was so proud of her for joining in and being so encouraging to everyone), and Dylan was poised ready to take a photo of me. He took this one above just as I was about to high-five Sally. I then ran through the glorious, cooling water mister at the bottom of the bridge and headed into the last couple of miles of the race. I'd run on ahead of Nicky at this point. I'd sworn I'd stay with her but she encouraged me to go on ahead if I wanted to and I was in a nice steady rhythm, so I did. We ran past St Mary's Stadium, past The Joiners (legendary Southampton live music venue) and then it was the final stretch. I was so hot by this point but I carried on running, spurred on by the fab spectators and marshals shouting my name (so that's why you have your name on your bib number!) and then the finish line was in sight. There were so many people cheering and shouting and as I ran towards the end I grinned the biggest grin, stretched my arms out like an athletic Jesus, and I had that weird crying-but-smiling sensation for about ten seconds. I'd done it! OH, THE BUZZ.

As we were queuing for our medal, goody bag, race shirt and banana, I heard a weird sound. My initial thought was that it was windchimes but I couldn't figure out why there'd be any of those, but it soon became apparent that the metallic chiming noise was medals. The girls handing out the medals had bundles of them strung on their arms and the medals were making a soft clangy sound as they swayed and clattered against each other. Forty years old and I'd never heard that noise before. Isn't that fab?

Race bling!

Nicky found me, we ate our post-race bananas, did the obligatory WE DONE A RACE! selfie, and then we found my sister and headed home.

Hot, sweaty, happy

My chip time for the race was 1:12:01. I'd wanted to do it in and hour and ten minutes so I was over the moon with that time considering the heat.

My race shirt. Fear not, it clearly states on the back that I did the 10K.

I absolutely loved the race and everything about it. I wore my medal for the rest of the day and even slept wearing it that night. The following day, I booked a place for the Histon Flaming June quarter marathon which takes place next month, literally just up the road from where I live, so now I have another race to look forward to. Hurrah!

Running Tune of the Week
Tonight We Fly by The Divine Comedy

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