The day of the race hurtled around. In the run up to the race I’d still not done a full 5k distance in one go, but was confident that I could make it around without needing resuscitation.The day before the event I’d had one last run and as I got to the point where I’d usually turn off and head home, breathless and sweating, I just… continued. I kept running and only looped back some time later because I was hungry. Suddenly I knew I could do this.
On the day Roundhay Park looked like Silent Hill, foggy and cold. Some folks doing a bootcamp session ran by looking miserable, but we were not daunted.
The run itself was fun. Our names and numbers weren’t on the system but within minutes we were added, had our numbers and were set to go. We started near the back (to stay out of the way of the serious folks) and set off through the mud. Within minutes, our small group separated, each of us sticking to our own pace.
I was surprised how quickly it was all over. The minutes and meters ticked by, songs on my running playlist came and went. I passed someone with a pram, then someone with a dog. Toward the end, Batman passed me. I managed not to slip into the lake on the long, uneven stretch around its banks. Soon enough, I looked up and saw my girlfriend waving at the final corner and hauled myself up the steep muddy slope to the finish.
Someone on the finish line handed me a medal and I stood with my friends with shit-eating grins in the mud for a group photo. I’d jokingly mentioned that I wanted to finish in under an hour but secretly wanted to finish in under 45 minutes. My final time was 39:28, which had me over the moon.
At home, after a shower and food, I gave my Daruma another eye. Mischief managed.
I’d always wondered if I could do one of these events. I knew that 5k wasn’t a huge distance – I walk that distance when I’m out for lunch and don’t think twice about it – but made it into something bigger than it was.
By setting one small goal and doing a few small things to get used to it, I found it easier. It helps that the event was pretty well organised, and that the atmosphere on the day was encouraging. I’m already thinking about my next run, and making a bigger effort to write down (and commit to) goals, no matter how large or small.
As for my Daruma, tradition says I have to take it to a temple to burn it the day after New Years Day. Maybe that can be another goal for me.