Little moments last a LIFETIME

Leading from the front.

I’ve never done it before in a run race. Swimming yes, running not so much. 

I was at an annual fun run through a vineyard that I do twice a year with my family for the last 3 or so years. It’s one of my favourite routes, as it’s a mix of off road track, gravel, mud, grass and two killer hills. It’s where I completed my first half marathon (8.5 laps or so!) and where my wife and mother in law completed their first 10k as well. Next year, my eldest wants to join me which is just epic! 

I digress...

I know the course well and previously, there was a similar crowd all chasing the top spot on the 5 and 10k. I’d been working hard this winter to give them a run for their money, having stayed in second and third last year, until I tripped over a dodgy tree root and lost my place. 

I felt strong this year, I’d been running the route through in my mind, over and over, with what effort I need to put in where. Where my feet will go up the root lined hills. I was ready.

This is an Incredibly fun, family friendly, anyone give it a go type of run. So not a serious race per se, but one that those that want to go fast, go fast and those that want to go slow, go slow.

Let’s not forget, you only race who turns up right? If a few of my training pals were with me, they would have overtaken me. But they weren’t there. So it didn’t matter. 

As we lined up, there was a very clear line between those that were gunning for it and those that were in it for the challenge. I even made a joke to the crowd, asking why they were all stood so far back! But alas, what was maybe fun for them, was game on for me😂

We started. The guy on my tail, we had spoken before the run, was a solid runner. He was going for the 10k. I was aiming for 2.5 or 5k. It basically depended on when my 4 month old started to cry or not (grandad was watching her whilst we ran) and I knew I had about 12 minutes per hilly lap, to get back quickly in case she was kicking off! So it was a race against myself. Against my baby crying. Against anyone that dared pass me. Ok, so I’m not that competitive. But today I was a little bit. 

We took off. The guys in second and third were hot on my tail. So much so that on the slippy downward slope, when I shouted out “rabbit hole!” As my foot skimmed the edge, he almost went straight in behind me. I don’t wish that on anyone, it would have been bad at that pace. Really bad.

We cracked on, up the track. In the friendly nature of the event, with its narrow lanes, I shouted to him to tell me to move if he wanted to overtake. Quite the gentlemen, he was enjoying a solid pace too, until we came to a clearing and he steamed up the lane for the turn into lap two. I was stoked at this point. 

I’d never led a race before. All sorts of things were going through my mind, which is what was slightly distracting to be honest; how close is he, is he there yet, should I slow down, speed up, skip around, do a twirl? Anything to distract him. I love strategy. I relished on playing those games as a kid and loved it even more so when my long game beat my brother. Again, I’m digressing, my my brain loves logic. It over thinks itself sometimes. It can be a blessing and a curse all at the same time. 

I was so used to not being in front and having others pace me, that I wasn’t sure what to focus on. And it felt fricken epic. 

The only voice I could hear behind me, wasn’t a real one. It was one in my head. And it was my good RunPal Des. Shouting at me at the top of his lungs to not give up. To keep smashing it. There were many another expletive being shouted by inside voice Des, but it helped me focus. Helped keep me going. 

I was reaching the lap turning point, shouted to check in with grandad, they were ok, I strode on. 

Des did the same thing to my wife the day before. He shouted at her. Not an angry shout (though sometimes it’s hard to tell if he’s happy, encouraging or angry;) but it gave her the motivation to want to run some more, now about 4 months post baby. He has that affect on people.

But it wasn’t only Des. I had Jon’s calming advice, flying through my head. The steady pace. The counting steps as I climbed the fourth hill. The fast hands to give me fast feet. I was reliving Slindon slog, though my pals weren’t in the present.

Their voices helped me to finish first on the 5k. My first first place. So yes, the other guy did complete the tent, but we were running different distances and yes, he was faster, but I’m still claiming it 😂 VICTORY WAS MINE.

My point is this.

The power of the pals is everywhere I go now. When it gets tough, I think of the progress our pals have made. Some I started training with, prePals, three or four years ago, who are now smashing out amazing distances, times or just plain loving the fact that they can and do go out running. 

Never doubt for a second, the support you shout and cheer. It carries on long after a race or event has occurred. 

Little moments, can be saved for a lifetime and will never be forgotten. 

Keep being you pals. Keep being RunPals.

Matt Coyne