I have a medal! My first race elicited this, plus a t-shirt and a nasty shin splint, this last picked up in training a week before the Watford 10K, probably through upping my mileage too quickly. To avoid aggravating it for the race I had to take a week out, which left me feeling fat and bored - the more I run the more I enjoy running, it seems, a curious circumvention of the usual activity-boredom equilibria that would usually please me were I not laid up and intermittently icing my shin. I still don't think there's a Runner's High, unless you count the feeling of smug worthiness after a run, but withdrawal is certainly painful.
My time was poorer than I'd like, perhaps unsurprisingly given injury, a restricted training schedule, a total lack of speedwork and a week's layoff (not that the Watford route is very PB-friendly anyway), but still sub-54 mins if you take off the minute and a half of shuffling up to the start line. My best 10K time is about two minutes less.
It took me a while to get the hang of pacing but I soon realised that the simplest method is to fixate on a specific runner's bottom and follow it, overtaking when it feels right and slingshotting to the next bottom: my memory of the race is a swirl of lycra-clad derrieres and bluebells. Given that about two thirds of the field were in front of me, bottoms were pretty much all I could see so I do not apologise for this. Also, runners have excellent bottoms.
The hills were as punishing as Runner's World forumites claim but, expecting such murder, I had geared my training accordingly and consequently coped well: my endurance is fine and my bloodymindedness (vital for hilly courses) second to none, it's only speed I lack. Hmph. Not sure if this is my Perfectionism talking or whether I really did as badly as I think.
This is a bit more Dear Diary than most of my blog entries, I realise. Running is quite personal and one's first race even more so: to run with others for the first time, when running is so much about escaping from people for me, was an experience I dreaded. In the event it turned out to be fantastic, a shared experience very different to that we British usually have in that it was not forced upon us - we love our Blitz Mentality, the way we pull together in adversity, but we don't much go in for shared experiences on purpose. To be with 950 other people who all wanted to be there, who trained for it, who set out to accomplish the same thing, to meet head-on a challenge they set themselves... I don't think I've ever done that before.
The next day I was surprised to find that several of my work colleagues had been racing too: I hadn't spotted any of them (probably because of my innovative Arse Pacing method, and because they all run embarrassingly faster than me) but at least one saw me. Perhaps they recognised my bottom. I hope not. My bottom's rubbish.
I'll race again, definitely. I've said before that there's something wonderfully blameless about running: I had thought that making it competitive might detract from that, but I was wrong. Instead it is elevated, from blameless to virtuous.