Sunday, 4 March 2012

Age UK 10k: Rowena takes Crystal Palace

As part of my Ultra Recovery Plan - or at least a plan to keep me running long after the milestone had been met - I entered a whole load of races to keep the legs ticking over without me having to make any effort independently!

The first proper race was organised by Age UK and as part of the Wrap and Run series which they hold across the country over winter. The runs aim to spread awareness: did you know 25,000 older people die every winter from preventable causes? Pretty shocking. The great thing about the run is that you don't have to raise a certain amount - great for me after the big fundraising efforts, but not so great for the charity. So if you're upset by that statistic then drop them a donation or sign up for their e news.

The event was really well organised, starting at Crystal Palace running track with two laps round the park. It was quite cold and a bit drizzly and the excellent organisation meant we were there way to early so there was a lot of people doing impromtu warmup movements in the centre of the track to keep warm. Our spirits were kept high by AgeUK volunteers dressed as cheerleaders, over 65 and waving pompoms!

I started out nice and slow and saw that there were a lot of people visibly less fit than me - overweight and in street shoes so I knew I wasn't going to come last! The first hill really hurt but I was pleased I was doing ok and actually overtaking a lot of people. The course was marked out in miles which confused me and by about 4 miles the hills had taken their toll and I was walking the worst of them but not losing too much time. I then got a stitch which properly pulled me over - was it the cake I scoffed on the train?! When I stopped to work out the stitch, the cold got right into my bones - and my IT band started rusting up alongside the knee. I kept running but the pain never went away.

The second lap was more of the same but with more walks up the steepest section of the hills to ease away the IT band pain. A really old man kept coming up behind me at this point shouting "dont' walk, it's too cold". It didn't really help!

I had a strong finish on the track as it was lovely and bouncy and finished 1:03:14 - considering all the walking and hills I was really pleased as I'm not a sub 1 hour ten km runner yet anyway. The best bit was getting a Mars Bar over the finish line. Forget goodybags, just a mars bar please! We also got a tshirt to add to the growing collection.

After the race I got talking to the old man who told me to keep running. He was a marathoner and ultra runner and had lots of experience to share. I made a resolution to always speak to the oldest looking runner from now on as it was really enjoyable to learn so much from him and get encouragement and realise that you can be old and active! A very appropriate learning from an Age UK event!

A great event, well organised, affordable and great fun. I think entry was £14.95, the course was challenging and I even got photos taken! Recommended and perfect for two weeks after an ultra!

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