RUN: Run in the Dark

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Manchester Run in the Dark 2014: or rather, a lesson on not letting your ego control your legs…

Last Wednesday night, I was feeling pretty good. I’d had a nice lunch with my mum, hydrated enough, carbed up to the max. I was looking forward to Run in the Dark kicking off at 8pm as I actually prefer racing at night; at least you’ve had a chance to get a full belly of food throughout the day.

Arriving at the start line, I could see that the field wasn’t enormous, comparable to a busy parkrun. I’d already told myself I was going to run for fun tonight and to be with friends, but the sight of such a small field and the fact I might be able to get a decent placing if I went for it riled me up. When we set off I ran the first 2K in 8 minutes: a cracking speed by any amateur’s standards. I got to the furthest point near Victoria Warehouse and was hit with THE most painful stitch I’d ever had. Argh! I was so annoyed and tried to run through it but I really was in a lot of pain. I managed to keep on walking and was running again by 3K – albeit at a much steadier pace – but it took me up until the end of the first 5K lap to get back into a rhythm.

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The latter 5K was more enjoyable but I was pretty annoyed at myself for sprinting away when I should be working on a more steady running strategy, considering the future events I have planned. If I behave like this when running marathons or halves then I’m going to use up my energy early on and be uncomfortable later on. I think I need to book in for a few more 10K races then run with someone I know is able to pace themselves well and doesn’t get too over-excited like I do!

One of my favourite things to do when running races is to look out for my friends to cheer them on. It was strange doing this in the dark though as you’d be about to wave to someone, convinced it was your mate’s face looming in the dark, only to realise last second that it wasn’t them. Somehow other people recognised me though… I must have a really recognisable (read: weird?) running style.

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It was pretty cool to have this run on my doorstep, and to be running the same event as 15,000 other people around the world. The whole entry fee went to the Mark Pollock Trust, which works to support those seeking a cure for spinal cord injuries. Although I was pleased to be supporting a charity and I’m cool with no t-shirt, a medal would have been appreciated. Yeah yeah, I’m ungrateful, and I should be happy with just the experience, but I just like something to go around my neck to say “I did it”!

Would I do it again next year? I’m not sure. I do feel it needed to be better organised, especially at the start and at bottlenecks on the route, though everyone else I spoke to enjoyed the run so maybe it was my own experience that tainted my opinion. It’s a great concept and I love that it was practically in my backyard.

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