This had been planned for months. However, the training in the last six weeks had been pathetically low - two gym sessions and three runs. That's all. To be fair, this can be blamed on a combination of parents' move to Norfolk (going well), large amounts of work (great for finance, lousy for training), and insanely bad weather earlier in the month. But by the time the Cancer Research Run10K event arrived, I was deeply depressed about my lack of preparation.
In the event, it could have been much worse. To begin with, this was not an easy course. Sandringham - yes, the Royal homestead - is very beautiful, but the route was (a) surprisingly hilly in places and (b) much of it was coming close to cross-country in the amount of grassy, uneven ground and stony, tree-root riddled paths. The continuous concentration to avoid a turned ankle meant that I was even tenser than I would have been, and not surprisingly, this messed me up big time.
My dear friend Kim kept with me throughout - she'd have got a much better time if she'd done it at her own pace - and we went across the line holding hands. She would nag me, get me to breathe deeper, and at times when I felt I would never finish it she ensured that I did.
As it was, I completed the route in 1:16:0, which at 12:13 was still faster than my pace at my first 5K in May 2007 (12:32). Given that I had to take a few brief walking breaks - ranging from a few steps to a minute or so - this means that my overall pace when running was probably at least sub-11 minute, which given the out-of-training, the course and (as I discovered at the end of the race) the spectacular blisters - one on each big toe - wasn't as bad as it might have been.
It's brought me up short, though. I dreamed a night or two back that I was running easy, without pain anywhere. That's what I want. It's also what I did achieve last year, and even occasionally during this year when I've managed more than two sessions per week.
Most of this race was, in fact, without any specific pains - the discomfort from the blisters only really kicked in during the last 2K. No particular pains in hips, back, hams or anywhere else: just those leaden legs that made me feel I couldn't take another step walking, never mind running. Now, of course, I also have sore ankles because the blisters are causing me to stand awkwardly, but that will sort itself out before too long.
I'm also fairly fed up to look at the photos above, and to know clearly that I simply don't look as toned here as I did even during my first R4L. My weight is almost identical - I was 150 then, 151 today (3 lighter than on my return from holiday) - but the last few weeks of less workouts mean that I just don't look fit. And having once achieved it, I hate to backslide. (Although in my defence, boobs like mine crowned with a race number will always give a Michelin man impression!!)
OK. Let's get these blisters healed, and then it's back on course.
PS: Anybody still want to sponsor me? Visit this link!