I ran the course: Bupa 10,000

I’ve literally just stepped in from running the Bupa 10,000, and can’t bear to hide the ecstatic mood I’m in. I probably shouldn’t be blogging with all this adrenaline pumping round my system, but I thought it best to capture the raw mood of it all.

It was absolutely fantastic, and I loved it, despite not training nearly as much as I should’ve, and getting a stitch at around 4K that stayed with me for the next few kilometres. It was a slog, to be honest, but it was so worth it. According to my calculations, I actually made it round the course faster than my previous 10K attempts, clocking in (this is an estimation, remember) at just under 50 minutes. I was given a timing chip, so my official time will be posted online tomorrow, so watch this space! Some might call that slow, but I’ve never referred to myself as anything else than a slow runner, so I’m very pleased!

I was surprised to be placed in the second wave from the front of the race. For the non-runners among us, they aggregate all runners into ‘waves’ based on speed, and release them at the start with a few minutes between each. This was kind of shocking, to say the least, as I’ve never thought of myself as anything other than an averagely paced runner, but it was a nice boost to my confidence nonetheless. I actually didn’t have that many people overtaking me, and actually overtook a lot of people as the race was drawing to a close, while doing my best to spur them on with shouts, cheers and hearty thumbs up. They might have thought I was slightly deranged, but the thought was definitely there.

It never ceases to amaze me that there is an unbelievable sense of camaraderie, and undeniable sense of unity amongst your fellow runners at these events. Usually, I’m one to believe that society is inherently broken, but I’m always gobsmacked that for one day, people forget about their egos, their reticence, and their apathy, and are just…well, normal people, and behave as normal people should do. I got talking at the starting line to three fellow runners around me. You can just approach someone and start up a conversation, without them thinking you’re a weirdo. It’s astonishing. The route-side supporters were amazing too, and I cannot thank them enough. Epilepsy Research UK sent me some iron-on letters with my running vest, so I could emblazon my name across the front of my vest. I can’t count the number of remarks I had from well-wishers. “Come on Aris”, “You can do this, Aris”, “You’re the man, Aris”. My most vivid memory is from just past the 8K mark, when a man, standing with a group of supporters, shouted, “COME ON, ARIS”, and I went a bit mental, shouting back, “YEAH, ROCK AND ROLL”, while skipping and pumping my fists in the air. They probably did think I was a bit of a weirdo, but it certainly gave me the drive to hold my pace, and in fact, speed up a little for the last two kilometres.

It’s moments like this that really restore my faith in society, and let me know that there are, in fact, some decent people out there. I suppose it’s given, seeing that the vast majority of runners are raising money for charity, all in different coloured running apparel, giving off the impression of a sea of colour, especially on the approach to hills. I, myself, raised over £200 for Epilepsy Research UK; a phenomenal amount. I’d like to thank all of my lovely sponsors, and also remind the rest of you that you can still donate at http://www.justgiving.com/aris, if you so wish.

I can’t think of how to round off this entry. I’m just filled with such happiness and love for the world right now. If anyone who completed the 10,000 happens to encounter this entry, then well done! You are a legend, whoever you are, and it’s people like you who make the world a better place.


Running, Reintroduced

Yesterday, I went running, for the first time in a (very) long time. I was scared, to say the least, especially considering that I’m running the Bupa 10,000 in London on 25th May for Epilepsy Research UK. I’m no newbie to the 10K scene, but I thought I was cutting it a little fine, having not trained in a good few months.

As soon as I got running, it was quite different to how I expected it to be. It didn’t feel like a second baptism or anything. On the contrary, I just felt very tired, very quickly. Most runners should know that running is all about mental perseverance, and with this in mind I plodded along on my three minute ‘warm-up’ run, before stretching. What hit me most hard was how very out of breath I was. I am out of shape, dear reader. I guess there’s no easy, comical or jovial way to say that. I was planning on rendezvousing with some friends across town, and I’d had the bright idea of running to the meeting spot. So, with the clock ticking, I dashed off to meet them.

I was early. That was one thing that surprised me. It couldn’t have been more than a couple of kilometres to where we were meeting, but with the shape I was in, I thought I’d be late, for sure. In all honesty, I only really started running last January. I felt a need for change, and running provided a suitable outlet. Having said that, before I stopped running, at the end of last year, I could have run a half-marathon, if I pushed myself. Comfortably, I could achieve 9/10 miles with no problems. I had been motivating myself, before then, with a series of charity races. I think that not gaining entry into the London Marathon was what killed my enthusiasm for it. Understandably, it was only my first year applying for the ballot, and I shouldn’t have expected to be so lucky as to get a place. As I’ve already said, I’m going for a charity spot this year, which will hopefully also raise a lot more money than I usually would expect to. An unexpected result of my running has been finding out actually how much I enjoy fundraising. I love it, and am so looking forward to raising money (fingers crossed) for my marathon run next year.

Anyhow, back to my story. I reached the meeting spot, and was met by one of my friends who had arrived earlier than I had. She’s running the Race for Life in a short while, a 5K race for Cancer Research. She’s only been running for a matter of weeks, however, so I talked her through some basic stretches, and we went for a warm-up run. As we were returning from this, we encountered my other two friends who were to be joining us, who aren’t really into running as a regular thing, so we continued on our warm-up run for a bit, and then stretched together, before setting off. All in all, I was very surprised. All of them performed very well, beyond my expectations, certainly. I tried to motivate them along our route, which did work, to my surprise! After it was over, we stopped at a pub for a toilet break and a well deserved pint of water.

My friends said they enjoyed my instruction, and even said I’m make a really good PE teacher, which was very flattering. PE really wasn’t among my favourite subjects at school, so I think I might have to pass. That is unless I fail as a young man graduating into the current economic climate, and can find no other job whatsoever. Oh dear. I hope I’m not tempting fate, here…

All in all, it was a great day, and a great run. I thought I performed better than I had expected. While I might be physically out of shape, my running mindset is still very much in place, as is my stamina, and I think that’s just great. Helping out my friends was also a great help to myself. As I ran through the basics of running with them (warm-ups and warm-downs, nutrition, running techniques, etc.) it kind of also worked in reminding myself of everything I should be doing. At the end of the session, we agreed to make it a weekly thing. I look forward to running again with them, and running again generally.

I should also probably mention that I do have a sponsorship page up for my run for Epilepsy Research UK. I’m sure you all know what the deal with epilepsy is, but just to summarise, it affects 1 in 200 people, it’s linked to memory-loss and depression, and it really, really, really sucks. I’ve known people with epilepsy, and it’s absolutely horrible. Epilepsy Research UK are doing some great work towards stopping epilepsy, through things such as  finding and neutralising what causes epileptic fits. They’re a great charity, and lovely people, and could really use your money, being the only UK charity dedicated to funding epilepsy research. Donations are a little dry at the moment, but I’d greatly appreciate it if you could take a couple more minutes out of your day, and donate whatever at all you can spare at the moment. UK taxpayers, PLEASE GiftAid.

Thanks for listening, dear reader. Until next time, consider that you can milk a cow the wrong way once, and still be a farmer, but vote the wrong way on a water tower and you can be in trouble. (J.F.K.)