By Tom H
Sunday 3rd May 2015, Birmingham
If you’d told me twelve months ago that I’d be running a ten kilometre race I’d have laughed. Up until October last year I don’t think I had done any running, not including for trains, since high school – so entering myself in a race was somewhat daunting.
After six months of weekly runs, and the odd parkrun, with the Swifts I thought I might be ready. Maybe. Possibly. But it was too late to change my mind it was race day. We all met up in Birmingham’s new Eastside Park and costumed each other up with neon leg warmers, headbands etc to team with the 80s theme of our wave. Then we made our way to the green zone where the 80s wave were waiting.
So many runners. We had two dancers leading the 80s zone in a themed warm-up, a Freddy Mercury ‘I want to break free’ character and an Olivia Newton John ‘Let’s get physical’ dancer. They had us doing lots of warm-up stretches cunningly disguised as funny dances – crafty. Then before I knew it we were off – slowly to begin with as the group spread out and took up the road, and then faster and faster.
It was a bit too fast to begin with actually, it was only when I looked at my running watch that I saw I was going almost twice as fast as I normally run – slow down Tom! I eventually got myself into my planned pace, six minutes per kilometre (10km per hour) and managed to stick with it. I ran on my own for the first third of the race where I felt quite comfortable, I had my running playlist on and was in a comfortable stride.
The second third my feet started to hurt quite badly. Not sure why, I’d run further than that before, so I slowed down a bit and let people pass me as I gave my feet a bit of a break. Fellow Swift, Darren, came up along side me and we ran together for a while it was nice to chat as we ran – I’m much more of a social runner than a race runner. As we went around the Edgbaston Cricket Ground we got to see other Swifts doing the other side of the loop coming towards us – SWIFTS AHOY! By this point we were approaching the last third (the third with all the damned hills in it) and my feet were back to feeling OK so I decided to go for it.
I brought my pace back up again and attacked those hills. Once I cleared the last hill I could see the finish line in the distance. I’m not sure what possessed me but I flipped my iPod to my power tunes, turned the volume all the way up and sprinted – sprinted hard! I don’t think I’ve ever run so fast in my entire life! I passed loads of people and could hear the crowd cheering even over my music.
I crossed the finish line at 01:01:15 not quite the one-hour I was aiming for but it was close enough. I found my fellow Swifts a little further down the road and we broke out the cans of G&T and the cakes baked by Jay and Darren to celebrate before heading down to Loft Lounge for some much needed cocktails. I’m so pleased I went through with it all, there were times I thought I wouldn’t make it, and I almost cancelled my entry more than once – but with the support and encouragement of my fellow Swifts I made it, and I couldn’t be happier.
Official Results by Birmingham Swifts
Paul L – 45.59
Tom G – 47.09
Jay – 47.18
Tommy – 48.45
Dean – 48.50
Jesus – 55.09
Kai – 57.09
Paul T – 58.46
Tom H – 1.01.51
Darren – 1.04.33
Neesa – 1.04.51
Cheryl – 1.06.14
Fran – 1.10.53