I woke up feeling more like Scrooge than Mrs Santa at 6am this morning.
‘Are we doing it, then?’ Gav mumbled, quite understandably still half asleep, and quite clearly opening the door for any excuse-filled reason to opt out.
‘Yep. We’re doing it.’ I replied curtly, as if minimising my own window of opportunity to bail.
It was pitch black outside, and Tilly was still fast asleep in bed (along with most other sensible folk on a cold, dark Sunday morning, I mused.)
07:00 hours – We shoe-horned her out of her bed;
07:10 hours – Dressed her in the dark;
07:30 hours – Delivered her to Grandma’s.
07:31 hours – Phew. We’re off.
I was a particularly grumpy driver this morning. ‘This bloody sat nav. It’s taking us the wrong way, Gav!’ I groaned, as I felt my anxiety well up inside me at the prospect of getting lost and/or arriving late at the unknown start, 30 miles away.
As we meandered up hill and down dale – passing Mrs Goggins’ Post Office, and keeping an eye out for Postman Pat’s van en route – the sky turned varying shades of pink. I felt my anxiety ease a little, as the girly pink sky simply made me smile.
We pulled up in the car, and were both stunned by the scenery. ‘I wasn’t expecting this. Were you, Gav?’ We clearly hadn’t done our research, or pondered why the Percy Pud 10k race sells out within minutes every year. AHHH… THIS IS WHY!
Rachel Meldrew/Steptoe then made a sudden and miraculous transformation. I put on my race number… and nothing happened. Then, I PUT ON MY SANTA HAT and an amazing thing occurred. I actually smiled! ‘I’m going to enjoy this,’ I thought as I took yet another gormless selfie, and was laughed at by a sensible-looking woman as she walked past the car. CLICK!
‘Medders! Medders! Is that you?’ I hollered as I saw my girl-crush / favourite Twitter stalker walking up the road. It was like the time when I ran after Boris Becker at Wimbledon, only she didn’t ignore me. We exchanged pleasantries, whilst Gav had gone AWOL looking for a place to wee.
It looked like a large, well-organised event. We’d heard there were some top-level athletes taking part, and I recognised the girl who’d won the Yorkshire Marathon back in October whilst warming up. ‘Harry Gration’s here!’ Gav said, as he came back from relieving himself.
‘Bloody hell. It must be a pretty serious event, then,’ I replied. We’re both big Look North fans.
And then a blast from the past. ‘Ken! It’s me!’ (she’s called Amy, but to me, she’ll always be Ken.)
‘Ahhh Rach! Look at you! You look like a REAL runner!’ my old friend Amy said, as I spotted her on the start line. A more beautiful, wholesome and gorgeous person you couldn’t meet. I haven’t seen much of her since we went skiing together in 2006, when I was busy popping Prozac and spent more on Self-Help books than on race entries. I’ve come on a bit, since then.
We set off, and I tried to go for consistency. Don’t blow up in the first few miles, Rach. You don’t want to die part-way through today. Pace yourself.
Mile one clocked in at 6:39m/m. That’s OK. Don’t push it any harder, though.
The route was beautiful – a real treat. If anything was going to make it do-able today, this course would do the trick. Heading to Damflask Reservoir, a simple – and stunning – out-and-back route. Pretty, pretty, pretty.
We saw the fast boys and girls as they were on the way back in. The eventual winner was way ahead of the second placed male (he won in 29:57!!); Eilish McColgan led for the women, and ended up finishing in a course record-breaking 32:32. I saw her legs and hair. That is all.
And back to the rest of us.
‘Go on, Cullen!’ Medders (girl crush Twitter stalker) hollered as she was running the opposite way, heading to the half-way turn. I smiled and upped my pace.
Jesus. It’s getting hard. I know I’m working now. Admittedly, the climb around 7k killed my spirit a little. I looked down at my watch, and I’d still managed to clock a 6:43 m/m. I dug in. Back home now, Rach. Just get back home. I pushed on, and willed my legs to stay with me. They didn’t want to, but today, I won the battle.
Almost dead by the finish line, I clocked in at 42:11. It’s a new 10k PB. I was 5th F35 out of 180, and 23rd female out of 1014 who ran today.
I hung around for Gav. He came in a minute or so later, and we both collected our MAHOOSIVE Christmas puddings. ‘There’s custard, too! This is possibly the best race EVER!’ I said, simply unable to believe our luck.
Whilst slowly ambling out of the pudding collection area, a friendly Sheffield Star reporter approached us, and asked if we had a few words about the race. ‘Yes, Sure! Look around. This is a scene of pure happiness!’ I said, and went on to say a few words about my book (yes, that) and how taking part in races like this has made Prozac simply an unnecessary, old memory for me.
We headed back to the car, and took more selfies, including ones of me holding the two Christmas puddings to look like a pair of boobs. Yes, we are that immature.
Back in the car, I turned the radio on. It was playing Bill Withers, Lovely Day. ‘Ha ha – this is apt, Gav!’
I looked at the clock: It was only half ten. WHAT a start to a thoroughly lovely day.