With the racing season beginning and my return to running progressing well, I decided I would quite like to take part in a short, pressure-free race to test my fitness and banish the demons of that pesky spring marathon I should have been training for! The Stroke Association’s series of 5K Resolution Run events taking place around the country came to my attention and seemed like the ideal thing for me at this point: reasonably local (Dundee), a charity fun run event so not overly competitive and, of course, the twin “carrots” of a medal and a T-shirt!
Just over a week before the event I signed up and very quickly received my race pack. It was a fairly hefty pack containing my race number, information for the day and assorted resources for those opting to fundraise. There were also training plans aimed at beginners building up to this event as a longer term target so this is certainly a great event for anyone just starting out in running and looking for a friendly and encouraging event to take part in.
A quick study of the race information revealed that the event would be using the same route as the Dundee Parkrun at Camperdown Park and we were advised that we would be running off-road. So, armed with an assortment of kit for the rather wet and cold conditions last Sunday (and wearing trail shoes so as not to ruin my lovely new diva pink lightweight shoes!) we set off for Dundee.
We arrived in good time so parking was no problem and registration was also very straightforward. Safety pins were plentiful and despite probably possessing enough pins in the kitchen drawer to host my own race, I eagerly grabbed more to pin my number on! We were given our T-shirts at registration so that we could opt to wear them during the race, but since it was a cotton T-shirt and rain was forecast, I decided to save mine to put on afterwards. After that there was enough time to head off to the toilets (at which point it started pouring) then head back to the car to get organised to run.
It was while we were walking over to the toilets that Steve decided he was going to sign up too. He was planning to run the 6K race in Errol in the afternoon and the original plan was that he would support me in the 5K in the morning and we would swap roles for the afternoon, but the lure of a race proved too much for him and he ran off to get a race number and T-shirt!
A few minutes before the race the rain actually stopped and there was a warmup conducted by staff from a local gym, then it was time to line up at the start line ready to get going.
The route began by heading downhill on tarmac and I tried to hold back and conserve some energy for the trails and hills to come, but I think the excitement of being in a race again may have got the better of me and I probably started faster than I should have. All too soon, though, the route levelled out and we joined a trail which was at best squidgy and at worst swampy! Now I’m not much of a cross country runner and rarely run on this type of terrain as I tend to squeal a lot and leap about like a big wimp trying to avoid the mud! This time, I’m proud to say, I got my “mansuit” well zipped up and tackled the mud and puddles head on. It was tough going, especially when the trail began to climb up a steep and lengthy hill, but I ploughed on with my legs burning and reached the top where we rejoined the tarmac for a short stretch on the flat before turning to head back downhill and join another trail for the return portion of the route.
The final section of the route involved climbing uphill again through squelchy mud before rejoining the hill we started on for the final push to the finish. The mud here was really deep and I could feel my feet sliding (although I never felt like I was going to fall) so it was a relief to get back onto the path (albeit a bit of a lung buster!). I could see Steve waiting a little short of the finish and as I passed he was encouraging me to push on as fast as I could for the line. I was exhausted and my quads were burning so I’m not sure I really speeded up all that much, and crossed the finish line in around 30:34 (not great for a standard 5K but this was near enough a cross country course and I have nothing to compare it to). Given that I’ve only been running again for about a month, I’ll take that!
At the finish I was handed my medal and a goody bag containing water, a snack size chocolate bar, £5 voucher for a running shop and an assortment of leaflets. I also had the satisfaction of completing my first race since October with no sign of injuries or niggles, despite the tough conditions. Very encouraging.
I was cold and covered in mud, but happy. I am glad I decided to wear an old pair of trail shoes though!
Overall this was a well organised event. The information provided was accurate and comprehensive, organisers were friendly and beginners were more than welcome (so long as they didn’t mind a bit of mud!).
As for Steve, well he actually won the race and was awarded a Sony mp3 player as a prize! Somehow, he still found the energy to race an even muddier 6K in the afternoon and finished in a decent time while I sheltered at the finishing line with a Bovril and tried to get warm. Not the best day for racing, but we both enjoyed ourselves and that’s the most important thing.