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Runnin' In The Rain
Luce Smith, Features Writer
2010 Abbey Dash photo by John Seb Barber
I did the #abbeydash in Leeds. It was 3 degrees when I left home. It was Sunday morning. It was dark. I'd set my alarm to allow porridge making and eating time to fuel my next few hours. I then got in Percy and off I went.

Charity runs are always a bit of fun aren't they, a chance to do something you wouldn't normally do, for the sake of a charity? How bloomin' wrong could I have been. Gone are the fun run days! I walked to, well, I wasn't exactly sure of the starting position, (yes, I'd received the welcome pack weeks ago and had a glance through but it didn't seem important at that stage) but seeing the number of people wearing their race numbers heading down the street, it only seemed right to follow!

Not that I'm a sheep, but they were right! I had no idea so many people were keen to get up on a very cold winters morning, to wear Lycra and plastic bin bags. Funny how you could spot the regular racers by the bin bags they were showing off. Basically, if you weren't in tight Lycra and plastic bags, you were new to this game. I was deemed a newbie. I had a waterproof lightweight jacket on, how very amateurish. Shame on me.

I joined the trail of people and walked to what I hoped was the start. The roads were full of us all confidently striding along, and I was listening to the various conversations around me. People had travelled far and wide for this event, Bristol, Edinburgh, Bolton, mostly from running clubs. Ah, this was no fun run. This was a popular flat road race. An opportunity to shave off some crucial minutes off the race they did last week. There were proper athletes gathering. I felt so out of place. I'm not sporty, I'm far from competitive, and I've entered this thinking it would be a bit of fun on a Sunday morning. Fool.

Ok, so I joined a running club (beginners) and try to run twice a week, but that's just it, I like to keep active. I don't even think of it as keeping fit. It's just what I do. I blame the parents (in a nice way). Anyway, I'm now trying to find where my number colour is gathering. I don't even remember what time I said I might do it in, but there's nothing more than 80 minutes, so I'd better start thinking about trying to get it finished before lunchtime! It looks like I've said I might do it in 70+ minutes. That sounds right, the last 10km charity fun run I did was over two years ago, and I think it was just under 70 minutes. Am sure some people would want to try and beat that, so suggest they could enter the race at a quicker time. But not me, I clearly like an easy life where no expectations are had of me, so I give myself some leeway, just in case.

I gather in the pens, a bit like animals at market, except no one wants to buy me for their Sunday lunch. It's getting busy, like really busy, and I had no idea. The two others from the beginners group are meant to be here somewhere, but no idea where! I try to look, then think I might look a bit desperate! So I try to be mindful of where I am and what I'm about to do. 3 minutes to go, and the rain begins, but it feels like ice. The hat goes on. It's so cold. I chat to the girl next to me, who is young, so hasn't thought to bring a waterproof. Bless. She's colder than me, and we do a spot of small talk until we realise that the sprinters are being sent to the start line, so it's not long now til we get to trot off.

Finally, we bid farewell to each other, knowing it was the shortest friendship ever, and that we'll never meet again, and each hoping that we cross the finish line first. What kind of relationship is that?

Ok, I see the starting flag, and soon begin to pick the pace up with the crowd and find myself accelerating into a slow jog. The streets are lined with family and friends of the 10,000+ competitors. In the cold wind and rain. I'm grateful I'm the one moving and keeping warm!

I've forgotten my headphones, so have to rely on my inner head to keep me going. I read various messages on T-shirts, wonder how people are running in shorts without catching the death of (is that the correct phrase? I feel I have missed a word? Or words? Mmmm, I'm sure I'll be told soon.....), and try to navigate through the runners to find my pacer. I am looking for the sub 70 pacer flag runner. I don't see any flags, but to see at all is a task when it's raining hard. At least it's a flat race, and a road one at that.

10 very cold and wet kms later, I cross the finishing line. What a bloomin' relief! I grab the free water, tshirt and Lion bar and find Percy, who takes me to my boyfriend's house to get a very long warm shower and a well deserved glass of red wine. Ah, maybe it was worth it after all :)
Runnin' In The Rain, 11th November 2016, 8:51 AM