Monday, 17 October 2016

Not bad for an old woman

Yesterday I completed the Cambridge Town&Gown 10k. And I managed to break my own personal best, putting in a time of 56:35, which I'm still very pleased with. I also finished 64th in my age category, out of 178, which is surprisingly respectable.

I set out more or less convinced that I wouldn't manage to do so, having woken sniffling and sneezing, with an upset stomach, and gazing out of the window at the lashing rain. It may be that the two paracetamol and the phenylephrine I took before the start helped to overcome the pain that usually kicks in. So now I'm running on performance enhancing drugs...

I'm not going to write a blow-by-blow account of this run, for a variety of reasons. Firstly, I've done that once, and I wouldn't want to bore everyone. Secondly I didn't really notice where I was or what I was doing, so it would be hard to describe it all to you. I'm pretty sure my oblivious state was not down to the performance enhancing drugs. I think it was two-fold. Firstly, I'm sufficiently familiar with the streets of Cambridge that I ran round without really looking at anything. Secondly, there were over 1300 people running, so until at least the 7km mark I spent most of my time trying to steer my way round and between people - trying not to run too close to a pair of heels in front, trying not to be drawn into running faster or slower than I wanted, trying not to get jostled by over-takers. After 7km, the crowd had thinned enough that all I was really concerned with was finishing.

I do have a few observations though...

  • Perhaps it was the rain, or perhaps it was a symptom of everything that Northerners claim about Southerners, but running round Rochdale was a lot more friendly than running round Cambridge. There were people out in the streets, cheering us on, children high-fiving us, friendly banter amongst the runners, marshals and spectators in Rochdale. In Cambridge there were wildly disinterested students, utterly perplexed tourists and a wide variety of normal people completely ignoring us. At least nobody tried to run us over in Cambridge, though there was a luxury coach helpfully parked in the middle of the route up Kings' Parade.
  • Water bottles may be irritating to carry once you've realised you didn't want one after all, but they're a lot easier to grab, hold, and drink from than a poxy little plastic cup, which mostly leads to water all over your hands, face and the floor. Given it was raining, this didn't make much difference.
  • Maybe it's a north-south thing again, or maybe it's a small-race vs big-race thing, but the Cambridge 10k had a lot more aggressively competitive, pushy runners in it. Given that the overall winner has run for Team GB, perhaps that's not a huge surprise.
And now on to my major topic. The goody bag. That's right. At the end of a race, you get a goody bag. Though this was only my second race, I've seen enough of BigBear's goody bags to know the form. There's a bag (!) containing a finisher's medal, a t-shirt, a bottle of water, a snack of some description and occasionally the odd other thing.

And thus it was:

A bag

A t-shirt

A medal

A random snack

No, I didn't take a picture of a bottle of water. You know what one looks like, don't you?

I'm eating these now. They're quite good.

I confess there was also a different cereal bar, with yoghurt and cranberries and other tasty stuff, but I ate it while waiting for BigBear and LittleBear to collect me, and I haven't treasured the wrapper just to photograph. It was definitely tasty though.

So there we are. A reasonable selection, and rather more snacks than BigBear usually gets. Except that wasn't all. Next out of the bag was the mystery item:

Why should I love my age?

What's this all about? Did I get a special bag only for forty-something year old women looking rather as though they don't love their age? It looked as though there was just one heap of bags, but I was a bit tired and bewildered after crossing the finishing line.

10km runners are the target market for Lancome?

This is getting more surprising. I really must have stumbled upon the table of bags for tired-looking women of a certain age mustn't I?

Youth Activating Concentrate?

Oh dear. It's not just gunk for women who've been told they have to look younger. It's anti-scientific, over-priced gunk for women who've been told they have to look younger. Seriously, did they give this to everyone, or were they singling out the particularly haggard women? Fewer than half the runners were female, and even fewer than that were in the demographic who are accustomed to being told they need to stop looking their age and start trying to look twenty (or more) years younger.

How did an event that is all about using your body, celebrating your fitness and strength, and pushing your physical limits end up effectively taking sponsorship from a company who peddles the exact opposite? Who tries to convince women that being healthy, fit and strong is not enough, that what you need to do is look young. Never mind that twee "love your age" tag, what they really mean is "we think aging is an abomination that needs treating with expensive products". Sod that, I'm eating the crisps instead.

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