For the second successive year I took part in the Ballymena Academy Charity Race, a 5k around the grounds of my eldest daughter’s old grammar school and the traditional ‘graduation’ race for the latest intake from the club’s very popular Cosy Sofa to 5k programme.
Last year – in fact, a year to the day to be precise – it was a wonderful Spring evening, numbers were good and the race itself was run in very pleasant conditions.
Fast forward twelve months to tonight, a gale was blowing, the rain was falling and a hardy few gathered in the foyer of the school Sixth Form Centre questioning their sanity for daring to venture out on a night like this.
But us runners are a tough breed so after the pre-race instructions and safety briefing we somewhat hesitantly headed outdoors to assemble for the start.
The race is four laps of the school grounds, downhill at the start before levelling off and then uphill on the other side. The wind was blowing in our face on the way down, which hopefully would mean it’d push us back up the hill.
And that’s how it was at the start. Despite the wind working against me I darted down the first descent, and instantly regretted it when I got to the bottom when the wind came at me from the side, almost taking my legs from below me. Marvellous, I thought.
Knowing I had to go back up the other side I knuckled down and tackled the climb with the help of the wind behind me. All was going well, I completed the first mile in just over ten minutes which I was happy with. My only objective for tonight was to beat my time from last year and at that first mile marker I was well ahead.
Back down the hill again with the wind in my face and, again, at the bottom, it hit me side on … I think you can see a pattern developing!
But I was going well given the conditions, and was happy with how I was adapting. Yes, there was burn in my legs because I purposely set off fast but they were gradually settling down the longer I went on which is what I hoped/expected would happen.
I felt I had enough in me to keep going for another few laps but, that said, I was also glad to see the finish and knock 1 minute 31 seconds off my time from last year. As I said, that was my aim so I was pleased to have done it.
Next up is the Spar Craic 10k on Saturday morning. I set my old PB there last year until I beat it twice recently, so it’ll be interesting to see what I can do this time around.