A few weeks back an email popped into my inbox with information about this event. This coincided with the early days of my injury treatment and although I was keen to take part, I wasn’t sure whether or not this would be possible. As the treatment continued and my time away from running increased, it became obvious that although I had worked to maintain fitness, taking part in a 10K would certainly be unlikely and running at all just now would probably be inadvisable. Over the last couple of weeks, however, significant progress has been made and I have been able to run again (although only for short distances in an attempt to be sensible!). I knew I would be at the event since Steve was taking part in the 10K, and then a couple of days ago he suggested that I run the 5K (but go easy to avoid any problems). Normally I wouldn’t really bother about a 5K, but the lure of running after so long away from it was so much that I jumped at the chance to take part. I even agreed to take it easy and not run too hard…
We arrived quite early this morning at the beautiful Glamis Castle which, to my shame, I’ve never visited before. The races themselves take place in the grounds, a beautiful setting for a Sunday morning run.
Unfortunately being early meant a lot of hanging around for me. Steve was leading the warm up for the 10K then after he completed the race, leading the warm up for the 5K which started an hour later. Luckily, though, there was plenty to occupy me. Starting with the “accessories” we were provided with (although running in them was not compulsory!)
Also, there were a few other runners we knew taking part in both races so I had people to talk to while Steve was getting himself organised.
The route itself was a 5K loop (it was measured slightly short, but for a charity fun run not really a big deal) through the estate and spectacular walled garden (which reminded me somewhat of one of the Mario Kart circuits!). About 1K of the route was up what seemed a never ending hill and I was glad that I only had to tackle it once, unlike those running the 10K who had to complete the loop twice!
Finally, the time for the 5K arrived. Having looked at the other participants, many of whom planned to walk most of the route, I decided to position myself at the front of the starting line so I wouldn’t have to do too much weaving around them. As the starting horn sounded I set off (perhaps a little too quickly in my excitement at running again) and soon found myself quite far up the pack. This was probably the point at which I realised “taking it easy” was not going to happen as I discovered I was running over a minute a mile faster then I had intended and feeling good!
As the race progressed, I soon remembered why I don’t like 5K races – they’re fast and hard! With my lack of running recently my cardiovascular system was getting a real kick in the backside but I dug in and kept going, trying hard to maintain a good pace. I guess my problem is I’m just far too competitive! Probably the worst section was the long hill as we were required to run on the soft, energy-sucking grass rather than the road and as the route flattened out a little around 2 miles I could feel my legs turning to jelly. At this point, though, I was almost at the turning point at the top of the hill and knew that soon I could cruise downhill to the finish.
The turning point offered a great opportunity to gauge where I was in the field – by my calculations about 5th (and probably the 3rd female!). I decided that I had to keep digging in and not let anyone pass me on the downhill section to maintain my position.
The last hundred metres or so was on grass again, but I managed to keep up my pace and nobody passed me so I was thrilled to cross the line in 5th position and I was indeed the 3rd female! Ok, so it was a charity fun run and therefore not exactly overwhelmed with really serious, super quick runners, but for someone who hasn’t run in 7 weeks and has been sidelined with an injury, it was a really great confidence boost to run so well. There was no official timing since it was a fun run, but according to my Garmin I completed the course in 26:30 and although the course was measured short, this was still really pleasing as my 5K PB is 28:56 and I’m quite sure that over a full 5K today I would still have beaten this time. I know I still have to rebuild my endurance and gradually (sensibly!) get the miles back in my legs, but it’s a start!
Overall this is a really good event. RNLI Reindeer Runs take place around the country and I would certainly encourage anyone to give them a go. There are runners, joggers and walkers in both the 10K and 5K events and there is a shorter Santa Saunter for those after a more leisurely experience. All entrants get a good quality t-shirt, antlers and a flashing nose! 10K and 5K finishers receive a medal and bottle of water as they cross the line. For those needing further refreshment there are also hot drinks and mince pies available (definitely well deserved after a run!) After a year of serious training and racing, taking part in a fun run was…well…fun! I ran well, I felt strong and my injury didn’t bother me at all. And of course, I acquired one of the daftest “medal shots” I’ve ever had. Oh deer (groan)…