At Nike’s British 10K, amongst 25,000 other runners, our Versus challenge came to a great finale this Sunday as Cool Runnings (Derek, Candice and I) represented for Y&Y against the Control The Riot crew for the title of ‘Coolest Bloggers Who Can Sort-of Run Too’. The winning team, Control The Riot, summed up their race experience in a brilliant post here. However, we all felt like winners for reasons more than running. Read on to find out why.
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Before I start, let me apologise in advance for low-quality images. None of Y&Y’s usual lensmanship - instead enjoy the basic-blog style iPhone snaps I caught over the day.
In tune with the abysmal weather we’ve been getting this summer in London, it a miserable and wet race morning. My stomach churned nervously as I made my way to the first Nike VIP hotel. It wasn’t like I hadn’t done this before; a year into this running malarkey, I cracked a new PB in my previous 10K (May’s Bupa 10K). However, that didn’t quell my discomfort – lack of training due to a dodgy back and a busy schedule left me less than confident.
Spotting Candice amongst the Run Dem Crew, international Nike crews and other corporate runners in the Intercontinental Hotel lounge was the first thing to alleviate those nerves by more than a little bit. The second was seeing my friend Angel Dee. A few minutes of our usual antics eased me completely.
As VIPs we rocked up to the front of the start line, in front of the rest of 25,000 entrants who amassed a queue so huge they stretched down another kilometre. We met the CTR crew at the start line. Derek and Niran weren’t there, so Candice and I were the ‘YinYang Twins‘, and it was sort-of silently decided that the gang won by default, on sheer numbers alone! We had a jovial exchange and I took a quick snap of them before getting ready to set off. Reggie Yates commentated us into a cheesy performance from Heather Small, a group singalong to the British national anthem and a rather random pre-recorded message from Paula Radcliffe before we were off.
The first mile felt easy. I’m a slow runner (12 minute-miler and proud, thank you very much), so when 11 minutes in I hit mile 1 I thought “perhaps this will be a breeze”. However, by mile 2, the pressure of my achy lower back begun to build. “Only 4 miles left,” I murmured inwardly. It wasn’t like 10K was a distance new to me. Surely I could push the pain away in my mind and blag my way to the end of 4 miles?
Feeling like an inferno journeying through my lower vertebrae, the niggle built to all-out pain. However, I refused to stop moving. My jog turning to a bumble, but never a walk. There was one reason (or two reasons, if you will), almost bigger than my own personal determination. Candice and Angel.
Now, from before we hit the start line, Candice and Angel Dee decided to pace me. Try as I might to dissuade them, they refused to budge. A very speedy Angel slowed to what have felt was walking-pace, but she still wouldn’t leave me. Candice and I decided to take the RDC bells (as seen in my picture) around the course so we rung with fervency to make sure we were always within each other’s reach.
A little back pain couldn’t take away from the vibe on the course. Aside from a few moronic push-and-shovers, the sea of mostly black-and-green clad runners shared a general camaraderie as we passed each other, with many people commenting on the small racket I was creating with my bell. The jubilant atmosphere was reminiscent of carnival (a comparison I also made when witnessing the atmosphere at the London Marathon) – Candice’s random bogles and Angel taking time to high-five every child standing by supporting re-affirmed that. At 7K we cruised through the RDC supporter zone, and by 8K, the light drizzle which had been keeping us cool became a downpour and I made an effort to enjoy getting soaked.
As we hit 9K I heard “TAHIRAH!” behind me. Derek! A little late, but he made it! Even though he started at the back, he blazed through his first race, crossing the finish line in 58 minutes!
My British 10K time wasn’t quite 58 minutes – add 26 minutes on that and you’ll be a bit closer. This year, I’ve ran faster 10Ks. However, struggling around the course with a painful back and the support of friends, I really didn’t care about time. The medal, taking in the experience and learning the lessons I did far superseded the reach for a personal best this time round, so when my own personal Paula Radcliffe issued me congratulations in my earphones on my Nike+ app, I grinned.
We did it, and we’re still the coolest. #CoolRunnings.