Today I ran my first 10K race in ten years. The race, known as the Percy Pud, takes place in the Loxley Valley, Sheffield, bypassing the beautiful Damflask reservoir. One thousand runners enter, with many turning up in Christmas themed outfits, and each runner receives a Christmas pudding upon completion.
I last ran the Percy Pud when I was twenty seven years old, or thereabouts. I was in the throes of divorcing my eldest daughter’s Dad, caught in the turbulent winds of an incredibly acrimonious split. My alcohol consumption had begun to creep up around that time, and I was regularly drinking enough to feel tipsy most nights, enough to get completely out of it two or three nights a week.
Somehow (maybe because I had youth on my side) I managed to turn up on time to run the Percy Pud and actually achieved a new personal best. The night before, I had drunk four pints of Guinness and went to bed about 2 am. I ran the race in 48 minutes, fighting the desire to throw up all the way around.
To celebrate, a few of us went to a pub and got drunk.
Today was a different affair. Last night I put thought into what I ate (carbs – macaroni cheese), drank loads of water and got an early night. I did a little run yesterday, just to work my muscles gently, but otherwise I rested (as much as you can with a seven month old and a teenager who requires an on tap taxi service) in an effort to conserve my energy.
I ran the Percy Pud today in 55 minutes, a time which I am pretty pleased with. I didn’t run for several months whilst pregnant and then subsequently recovering from the caesarean, and began to jog regularly about four months ago. I’m justifying my race time to you here, because a tiny bit of me really wanted to prove that by living a much healthier lifestyle, I would be able to easily smash my PB.
But, the important thing is this – all the way round the race today, I was soaking up the beautiful scenery, enjoying the camaraderie of all the other runners, focussing my mind on breathing, my technique, running through the pain barrier. I ran it and I was there, in the moment – I lived that race. The last time I ran it, I was trying not to be sick and pushing myself to get to the finishing line so that I could get my Christmas pudding and get the hell out of there and off to the pub.
Thus, I am proud of what I did today, and have decided to buy a training book to help me improve my time and technique in 10K’s. There’s another race at the end of February 2013, and I’m aiming to get my PB down to less than 45 minutes for that one.
Tonight I feel physically tired, the kind of tired you get when you have really pushed yourself, conquering the inner you that wants to slow down and instead forcing your legs to keep moving, as fast as you can make them go. The calmness and ability to relax that physical exertion brings, is noticed and appreciated far more when sober. I am, once again, extremely happy that I no longer drink alcohol.