Countdown to Lake Vyrnwy Half Marathon: 62 days to go.
We’re moving ever closer to being without a roof completely now and starting to acclimatise to life under tarpaulin. I must admit there were times last week when I wasn’t sure where the best place was to be; with new beams going up in the kitchen and slates and tiles flying off the roof, there seemed to be rubble and noise everywhere. Still, it’s getting the job done: our builders are great – so hardworking – and with any luck, we are about halfway to our lovely new roof.
Having got the hang of the builders’ timetable and activities, it was a bit easier to keep to my running programme last week. Actually, I made up for lost time and miles by doing three long (well, long for me) runs of 9.3k, 10.4k and 13.1k. I was especially chuffed with the last one, partly as it’s the furthest I’ve ever run but mostly because I ran from home so it involved plenty of hills. In fact, 6k was notched up running up and down the Hill From Hell three times. It has come to something when being out running has been preferable to being at home – another of my coach’s ploys, I wonder?!
My fourth and final run of the week was the Luarca 5k race yesterday. This is the first Spanish race I have taken part in and it was a good one to choose. Luarca is about half an hour’s drive from here, a pretty seaside town with a working harbour. We have become quite familiar with it since moving here as it is the main centre of any business we need to do (town hall, tax office, bank, dentist, etc); it’s also a lovely friendly place to wander round and has a good Wednesday market. Roger entered the race last year but had to pull out in the first minutes because of a calf injury so this year he was hoping for better things and to continue his winning streak. For me, position and time were completely irrelevant: this was all about trying to get a grip on my race day nerves.
My race ‘career’ so far doesn’t amount to much – two 5k Races For Life, two Park Runs, one 8k and two 10k races – but each time I have felt very nervous at the start. I’m not entirely sure why this should be as I’m not athletic or competitive so it’s not as if I’m worried about doing well; trust me, finishing on my feet is all I ever hope for. I think perhaps it’s running surrounded by other people that I find difficult as I always run alone and enjoy that quiet solitude (even when there’s a hill involved). Whatever the reason, while everyone else looks like professionals as they go through their stretches, jogs and sprints before a race, my warm up generally involves a large dose of butterflies and a desperate need to wee (several times)! Mmm, it would be good to have that under control before September!
I have to admit I didn’t feel too bad this time. The race was very typical of all those Roger has run in in Asturias – well-organised, friendly and well-supported. I don’t mind starting towards the back: as I’ve pointed out to my coach (who’s not convinced!), it means a leisurely start after the gun while I wait for the pack to move off and of course there’s no chance of getting lost if there are plenty of people in front of me. Mostly, though, it’s because all the runners around me are like me, not trying to win but running for a personal challenge . . . or just because they can. There’s a sort of back-of-the pack cameraderie which I like and this race was no exception. There was also tremendous support from people on the streets right from the word go and the shouts of ¡Venga! and ¡Ánimo! were great encouragement.
As the race was two laps of the same course, I saw Roger twice on the way round and it was clear that there were no injury issues for him this year.
In fact, he finished ninth overall in 16:51 and won the Veteran class – no mean feat as it was a 45-55 age group this time so at 54 he certainly gave those youngsters a good run for their money. I am in awe of his running ability and speed but then, if you’re going to have a coach you might as well have one who leads by example (and as I keep telling him, he’s not doing too badly for a Grandad – even if it does mean yet another trophy for the collection!).
Needless to say, he was finished in plenty of time to cheer me towards the finishing line, just the encouragement I needed for those last few metres. I even surprised myself with a burst of speed, determined not to let the clock tick over to another minute. A far bigger surprise is that at that moment I was SMILING! Oh my goodness, now that really is a first!
So, how did I do? Well, I came 199th out of 228 runners which is much as I expected and I was 10th out of 20 ladies in my age group which was better than I imagined I could achieve. My time was 28:30 which pleased me as it’s usually over 30 minutes but the best thing was I had held those nerves more or less under control. I was very glad of the water at the finish line and the bag of goodies which included a banana, apple, chocolate wafer and a couple of buttery biscuits . . .yum! What I wasn’t expecting was a sausage sandwich and a very cold beer which I have to say really hit the spot. Muchas gracias, Luarca – what a great event. I have to admit to slightly enjoying it: in fact, I’m even considering entering another race here before The Big One – and no, it’s not just for the beer! 🙂