Whenever there is a televised mass participation event of any length, tv presenters insist on referring to the less elite participants as “fun runners”, although I’m not sure how much fun one can have at mile 20 of a marathon knowing there’s probably another hour or more of pain to come! Nevertheless, as an entrant in a fun run today I guess I was, at least this time, a fun runner…
I have in the past marshalled at the Big Fun Run, but with so little racing behind me this year, the lure of an event literally minutes from our flat where I would get a medal for less than half an hour of effort proved too much to resist, and in a whirl of excitement after the Great Scottish Run earlier this month, I signed up.
Since GSR I have altered my training a little to include more hill reps and speed work so as to get my pace a bit more like it was in the early part of the year. On a longer run, I usually reach the 5K mark in 27-28 minutes, so after consultation with a pace calculator I decided that I should aim for around 26 minutes. This seemed reasonable, particularly given that my PB (set in Florida in 2010) is 28:56 and in the 5K races I took part in when on holiday in the USA this year, I really struggled and was never under 30 minutes. The rest of my family were also taking part, and although I hadn’t a hope of keeping up with my dad (honestly, I think the man eats rocket fuel!), I wasn’t going to let my sister beat me again!
The Big Fun Run is a series of 5K events around the country, organised by GSI events (who also organise the Edinburgh Marathon and the Kilomathon events). The idea behind this one, of course, is to encourage more people to participate and get moving. Signing up on the website was really straightforward as GSI events already have my details (and it’s simple to set up for new users) and the race pack arrived early this week with my race number, safety pins and detailed race information which was also available on the website. For me, of course, this was a local race so I had a relaxed morning at home before strolling along to the North Inch to meet my family and wait for Steve to conduct the warm up.
A number of my fellow club runners were marshalling today so there were plenty of familiar faces around to chat to while I waited, then with about 10 minutes to go Steve took us through a warm up. I usually hate these mass warm ups, but since it was Steve I flung myself into it and was knackered before I even got to the start line!
After the warm up it was time to get into the starting chute. Dad, Linsey and I made our way towards the front so we would get a bit of space, then before we knew it the race was underway.
The route was 2 laps of the North Inch. If you have read previous posts, then you will know that I’m not keen on ever running more than one lap of the Inch so 2 wasn’t ideal. Aside from that, although 5K is a short race distance compared to some of the events I’ve taken part in, that doesn’t mean it’s easy. Oh no. In fact, racing a 5K is rather tough. You have to run hard for the whole thing, when ordinarily I would take it reasonably easy for the first 5K then speed up. Racing 5K means always being a bit uncomfortable, finishing with legs like jelly and mildly wondering if your breakfast may be about to reappear. Racing 5K hurts!
I started the race a bit too fast. My sister shot out at a speed I knew she couldn’t maintain and since I wanted to beat her, I decided to stay on her shoulder then pass her when she inevitably slowed down. I would then have to stay ahead of her for the remainder of the race and by the end of the first lap I was comfortably ahead. Dad was quite far in front, but the nature of the course (and the fact that he had a fairly bright running top on) meant that I could see him for most of the race. It was also a bit of a bummer running past the finish line for the second lap, particularly since I was feeling the pace a bit, but I knew I was making good time so just had to suck it up and get on with the second lap.
By the second lap you could really tell who had overcooked it at the start as several runners were fading fast and I was able to pass them. A couple of people passed me but I think I kept my pace fairly steady and was happy with how I was running. By the last kilometre I was running on jelly legs and suspect I was breathing rather heavily, but I dug in, kept going and crossed the line hearing my dad and Steve (who couldn’t run due to suffering some kind of chest infection this week) cheering me on. I was immediately handed my medal and directed to where I could collect water and/or an energy drink.
The big smile on my face is because I just checked my Garmin – 24:45!!! Ok, so there’s no official measurement of the course or the time, but I’m really thrilled with that given the journey I’ve been on over the past few months. Not only did I complete the course faster then I expected, but I comfortably beat my sister which, of course, was much more important!
Overall, it was an enjoyable and well organised event and I would recommend the Big Fun Run to anyone. It’s suitable for those looking for their first experience of a race, is open to children and walkers are welcome. There is also a place for the more serious runner looking to test themself over a short distance and with so many events taking place around the country, there’s bound to be one near most major towns and cities.
Was it fun? Debatable whilst actually running and pushing myself hard, but yes, I did enjoy myself, as did my family. And we couldn’t resist a silly photo at the end!