Rachel Hursey reports on the finale to this year’s Beginners Course: Almost every training session for the 5K beginners’ race was in brilliant sunshine with blue skies. It was so hot that sometimes it felt a little too warm to train in. We could see why the course took place in the summer. After all, who wouldn’t want to run in the sun?
We were really well looked after in the course run by Suz, Katie, Linda and Nic. It was great to have such a welcoming and enthusiastic group of volunteers that were happy to spend their time to help us improve. And to play games, of course. There were team challenges such as Zombie runners that we had to avoid if we didn’t want to be annihilated.
At the start of the course, we were divided into three groups and invented team names. There were the Kenyans, The in-betweeners, and the A-team. I was a Kenyan and we were trained by Nic. She’s a fantastic and inspiring coach – and definitely brought out my competitive side. She was very humble about how fast she actually was (super speedy!); her focus was on encouraging us. Oh and she’s also good at shouting.
The 5k Beginners’ Race that marked the end of the 6 week Beginners’ Course wasn’t quite what we had trained for. It was a rainy day. There’s rainy and there’s very rainy, and there’s very, very rainy, and then there’s so rainy when you’ve finished the race you are wet through. It was that wet.
We arrived, collected our numbers and put them on with safety pins; we looked the part. We headed to the field where we had done all the practices and began to visualise the race. For many of us this would be furthest that we had run. Ever. There was the normal sprint warm up, stretches and lunges, but this time in the wet. There was the odd rumble of thunder and flashes of lightening. I hate thunder and lightning. I counted the seconds. 8 seconds is 8 miles away.
Last year, newly moved to Birmingham, I started the beginners’ course but then got a very nasty bite on my ankle which got infected and swollen. I couldn’t run, or walk for a while. This seems like something I could have made up. But it happened. Last summer I really hurt my back and couldn’t run or carry much for 6 months as it was so sore. I had a MRI -scans, X-rays, blood tests, strong pain killers and Physio. And then it began to feel okay again. So I started to think I could begin to run again.
But to the start line. No more time for thinking. Suz gave us quick instructions; as it was a race we should really run through the puddles and not avoid them. We nodded.
And we were off. Within five minutes we were so wet that running through the puddles wasn’t a problem. Bring it on. We did the lap of the field that we had grown so familiar with in the last 6 weeks and ventured out and round the route that we had also been training on. And it was actually fun. I forgot about the lightning.
The volunteers from the club were incredible. They were so encouraging as drenched stewards and timekeepers, some even negotiating the traffic away from us on the road we had to cross. The most challenging bit of the race in the last hill. I just remembered to put one foot in front of the other thought pretending it was an emergency. I knew that Zombies game would come in handy.
The final sprint.
“Come on Rachel!”
I’d made it.
As a reward, we each had a goody bag with water, chocolate, a medal, wrist band and teal laces. We had achieved something. The survivors. When I had finished I stayed for a while to watch others’ faces when they crossed the line. The buzz was almost magical.
So that’s what running with Bournville Harriers offers. That’s why I joined the club and so many of the beginners are going to as well. It’s people supporting other people. That’s much more than running a race. It’s a community.
Since then, I have done my first two parkruns. Weirdly, I’ve loved them. Before the course it took me about 30 mins to complete 5k. Now, after today, I’m proudly 26 mins 2 secs. Mainly thanks to Suz cropping up and pacing me round. You never know if I stop talking (which is unlikely!) I might even be faster next time.