About a month ago, whilst visiting my daughter who now runs, trains and belongs to a running club; we decided to enter the Cannon Hill Park 10k race. This race is held in a lovely park a mere two miles along a foot/cycle path from my daughter’s front door in sunny Birmingham. It is a charity race raising funds for The Conductive Education Centre situated at the edge of the park, so at least all the race funds were going to a good cause.
Entry form and fee sent off and a couple weeks before the race date, I received my running number (799) through the post. Sadly Daughter who runs was then notified by her University, that she was required to help on a first year Student Field trip which was scheduled to leave Birmingham at a time that clashed with this race. How mean is that? It should have been her first chance to run for her new Club at a race in Birmingham, now I was left all on my own, out of county, out of my comfort zone. Would I be able to function as a “race tart” and mingle with this new running crowd?
I’m 50, menopausal, so I’ll give it a go!
Daughter has cooked a lovely pre Race dinner for me of (sorry Jan, who gave the nutrition talk, not sure if this is what you advocated, but it tasted bl—dy good) of steak and kidney pie, with mini roast potatoes, washed down with two bottle of red (shared between three), so at least I was hydrating (read this month’s Runners World). Pudding was chocolate cake and freshly brewed coffee and then to bed.
Alarm set early so I can have some breakfast. Toast and Tea once again, but starting to think maybe cereal would have been better.
Husband who isn’t playing golf this weekend, but is fitting mirrors, hanging pictures and curtains, and doing odd jobs around Daughters house, kindly walks me along the quiet leafy path to the race HQ. It’s an early race start time of 09:30, but the early morning 2 mile walk is a pleasant way to warm up…..brrrrrrrr! It’s not very warm here in Birmingham and there is no sun to brighten up the day.
Husband leaves me at the Race HQ, a bit like a parent leaving there small child at the school gates on their first day. I have my race uniform on (TRC kit) and a back pack, but the greying hair gives my age away. I wonder up the driveway looking lost and lonely. I enter the building, and I am met with a scent one doesn’t easily forget …….urine….the smell that is present in certain establishments and it is here in abundance.
Bag drop found, Toilets located across the yard and then a lovely lady says “Hello, you must be Leonie’s mum” Fame at last or is that infamous? Anyway, her parents live in Truro and David McGuire had put her in touch with my Daughter re joining a running club in Birmingham, so she helped put me at ease and stopped me having to be a “Race Tart” to pass the time away.
It wasn’t too long before we were all mustered to the race start line and a quick briefing. It was to be a downhill start on slippery paths then a loop around the park, out along the Rae Valley Trail back into the park and then round that circuit once again. We were warned that we must respect the families out walking in the park and without any one two three’s, we were on our way.
Downhill we ran, 170 of us trying to get our legs to work in the cold, and my legs didn’t really feel as if they belonged to me. My feet felt as if they had grown to a size 10 and I had flippers on. The path then levelled out (about 500m later) and we were on the flat turning left alongside the large duck pond/boating lake running through the park. If it had been sunny I could have regaled you with descriptions of the beautiful autumnal colours of the leaves and delighted in the activities of the squirrels and birds, but it is grey gloomy and cold, I’m running faster than usual and the cold air has stolen my voice. I know this as “Ian” is alongside telling me his name, asking me mine……is this a new form of speed dating, if it is, it isn’t his lucky day!!!!!!! Another male now joins in, looks at his Garmin type gadget on his wrist, says hello, states we are on schedule to do a sub 50min 10k, tells me to keep up and we jog on. Have I woken up in the middle of a nightmare?
On we jog, out onto the Trail, which is where we meet the first real obstacles of the race. This section is an out and back section we cover twice. The lead runners are heading straight at us, so we must keep to the right. Then we have to run around a bollard, which is not good if you have dodgy knees, weave around the odd dog or two but I’m still behind Ian and Co. I think they have lost interest in me though. Maybe it was my husky soft porn, smoker’s throaty, barely audible response that has made them run faster, but I can’t keep up any more.
Into the park we return and up a hill……….it’s not a Cornish hill…..it’s more of an inconvenience that happens to be other than flat. My legs don’t like it though nor does my lungs, but it passes by in no time at all. Now it is loop number two, back pass the pond to sounds of clapping from some hardy supporters and “Come on Truro” from that lovely lady I was talking to earlier.
Ian and friend have left me in the lurch. I’m now hurdling dog leads, giving the little terriers that have their eyes on my ankles the evil eye, and wanting to shout at the dogs owners to keep them out of the way of us runners. Sadly I must refrain from doing this due to the pre race briefing, plus my voice is still nowhere to be found and also some of the dogs and their owners look as if they could make a meal of meal…at least it keeps the pace brisk.
The finish line isn’t too far away. I see the faster runners walking towards me, with their medals around their necks and before I know it, the race has ended. I had just crossed the line of a 10K race faster than any other this year in 48:11. Maybe speed dating is the way to get a PB girls?
Goodie bag collected……bit sparse. A banana, fun size crunchy bar, very flat packet of Crisps, a medal and a certificate. Time to head for race HQ for a cuppa and a slice of cake.
Race HQs still smells of Wee. I check the seat before I sit down, it appears OK. Tea drunk, cake eaten and then it is presentation time. Am I still on a roll? Could I possibly get a place in my age category out of county? The age category is large though, 50 to 59, spot prizes first. That’s a point, why haven’t we had any spot prizes at any of our events in Cornwall?
I fail in the spot prizes, so onto the age category………and the winner of the vet ladies 50+……………………isn’t me. I check the results later. I was 8th lady to cross the line and out of that 8 there were 4 50+ ladies of which I came 4th. 8th lady isn’t bad though for an Old Croc??????
“Husband who isn’t playing golf” comes to collect me from the school gates. It’s raining and cold now, but we walk hand in hand back along the Rae valley Trail to the house and I tell him all about my first day of running in Birmingham.
So all in all:
- Would I run this race again……if in Birmingham visiting Daughter then probably, as it is a very relaxed event suitable for all standards and it would be lovely to run it on a sunny day?
- Parking……apparently plentiful and free.
- Race HQ….other than smelling of wee, it was warm, welcoming provided a good focal point for all the runners and had tea, coffee and cake for donations available at the start and end of the race.
- TOILETS…..I don’t want to disappoint, so here goes. They were Unisex so the men had to queue. Large spacious individual rooms x 4, designed for the disabled. The one I used could have done with a little bit of a clean, but it had loads of nice soft loo roll, no carpet or heating but it did have an air freshener spray, which is a first. In the corner of this room there were about 50 litre bottles of drinking water. Not sure who they were for, but I didn’t redistribute any. Not a Porta Loo in sight. No showers though!
- Marshals…fab. They were all bright and cheery and no one got lost.
- Goodie bag…..it was a charity fund raising race, so although I described it as not having very much in it, then so is it, as otherwise their fund rising wouldn’t have been very profitable.