Janathon day twenty-two: races

A couple of years ago I declared “I don’t do races”. Then I did the Liverpool Women’s 10k in 2010, enjoyed it and didn’t race again for over a year. The next year I ran the Blackpool 10k in preparation for doing the Folkestone Half. Last year something went terribly wrong and I did five (the Age UK Wrap Up and Run 10k, theBolton 10k, a Badger 10k, the inaugural Port Sunlight 10k and the Royal Parks Half).

Medal Monkey - guardian of the race bling

Medal Monkey – guardian of the race bling

I have no idea what has happened to me this year, but we’ve not even finished Janathon and I appear to have acquired a race calendar. I don’t know if it’s the weather (looking forward longingly to spring) or just the fact that I’ve really enjoyed Janathon this year or what*, but (so far) I am signed up for three, am pondering one and have one pencilled in.

There has been very little planning about entering these, I am ruled entirely by my heart in these matters. I can see a race that is perfect in terms of distance, route and where it fits into whatever semblance of a training programme I have, but if it doesn’t make my heart flutter and put a smile on my face, I aint doing it. There’s no set formula for what draws me into a race, it just is what it is. So my immediate future looks like…

February: Mad Dog 10k – it’s rated as one of the top 10k races in the country by Runner’s World, you get the friendliest emails in the world from the organisers, I’ve read somewhere that someone won a toaster as a spot prize and it’s Southport, therefore it is flat. I like flat.

March: Cartmel 10k – apparently a hilly but beginner-friendly trail run in beautiful scenery and according to my mate Andy who knows about such things, “It’s tough, very soggy, but terrific fun”. Oh, and it would be the perfect race for Henniemavis – its full name is the Cartmel Sticky Toffee Pudding 10k.

April: Blackpool Half – I seem to like a coastal race, it’s flat, it’ll be the first half that I run in the same half of the country where I live and Fortnight Flo is running it so there’s a chance to meet more lovely twitterers. Splendid.

April: Bolton 10k – Another hilly one, this time in Leverhulme Park, Bolton. I ran it in a downpour last year and it still put a smile on my face.

May: Liverpool Spring 10k – This is a new race being organised by the people behind last year’s Port Sunlight 10k, which I loved. This one is in Sefton Park and Matt the organiser has plans for bands, bunting and cake. That’s my kind of race.


Tonight’s Janathon was a 3 mile out and back picking my way along crunchy pavements without falling over.

*Yes. I know. I like a medal – just call me Muttley…

Rainy, muddy, hilly, lovely – Bolton 10k

Considering that previously I have declared that I don’t really do races, I seem to have got a bit of a taste for them this year (and it’s not just my Mutley-like love of a medal). This weekend, while 37,500 people were pounding the streets of London Village, I ran the Bolton 10k, despite very nearly weaselling out of it.

I'm glad that I didn't waste a place

Ginge had to work, so his usual cheerleading/photography duties were gamely taken up by Mum, who stood out in the rain and missed The Archers omnibus to support me, a sacrifice that was very much appreciated.

I didn't have a brolly - I might have run faster if I had done

My preparation was much the same as normal, turned up, collected my race number, went to the loo, had the internal conversation where I persuade myself that I really don’t need the loo, skulk around trying to spot people that I think I might finish in front of (basically anyone who has a zimmer frame or is dressed as a pantomime horse).  One day I intend to have a proper routine, stretching and bouncing and the like, but until then I will remain content with simple things like being proud of not falling into the indoor long jump pit…

I don't think that this was a deliberate trap

I watched other people warm up and was rewarded with the sight of chap in tiny running shorts who was doing a remarkable accurate impression of the tennis playing bum scratching lady from the 80s Athena poster. That image will be seared on my retinas for a very long time to come.

Thanks Mum!

I left Mum finding out the life story and medical history of a chap who was there to support his son, and shuffled my way to the back of the pack.

Since signing up, I’ve been very much aware that this was not going to be a day for a personal best. The course is hilly (well it has a monster of a hill that you run up twice) whereas I prefer my races to be coastal (by coastal, I simply mean flat). On the day, dark looming clouds turned into spells of bucketing rain and the trail sections of the course became muddy and puddled under foot (although all those towpath miles must have come in useful). There was also a bit of a bottleneck as the course dipped down an uneven set of steps and then went across a narrow (single-file) bridge, but I can’t really blame that for my shortcomings. For that I have to look at the fact that my pre-race regime had involved a week mostly knitting in pubs.

Those clouds didn't just threaten rain...

Despite the rain and the mud and the less than brilliant performance, I really enjoyed the race and was glad that I didn’t weasel. I might even try and get some running in before the next one.