Yesterday I ran the Windmill 10K. It was a lot of fun, and there were a couple of things I wanted to share.

I’ve run four races at the Windmill, two 10Ks and two half-marathons, so I should know it by now. But yesterday the start had moved. Usually we start by the boating lake cafe. Yesterday, for reasons which I heard had something to do with a dog show, we started at the opposite end of the course, by the windmill.

Big deal, it’s the same course but starting in a different place. But if you haven’t run it, it’s hard to explain how different it felt. To begin, we were starting on grass not tarmac. Then we ran the opposite way down the prom (ooo!), and the narrow path which normally isn’t a problem (because it happens around mile 4 when we’ve all spread out) led to a bottleneck where we had to walk. The water station had moved from the prom to just round a sharp bend and took me completely by surprise. And at the finish we had to run past the finish line and double back, finishing on the grass, which pinched what little energy I had left in my legs. All little things which add up.

But something else was different about yesterday’s race. I wore my ‘Flashers on Tour’ running top, which has my name on the front. I should explain at this point that I parkrun at a place called Pennington Flash, and so of course when a group of us race anywhere else we are Flashers on Tour.

All the way round, wherever there were supporters, they shouted, ‘Go Flashers!’, ‘Go Flasher Liz!’, ‘Ooh look, it’s another Flasher, go on Flashers!’ It was brilliant to have so much support from complete strangers, and I’m sure it spurred me on when I wanted to stop and walk. So in the end, on balance, I did OK, coming in at just over 56 minutes.

So here’s my learning from yesterday, which you can interpret as you will:

  • What seems like a minor change can have a much greater effect than you realise
  • Support may be available from people you don’t even know; but you may need to provide a signpost (in this case, my name and something to shout!) to help them do it

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