Stephanie Blake ran her first Cabbage Patch 10 on Sunday. For regular marathon and half-marathon runners this 10 mile race might seem like a stroll by the river. To the rest of us it’s a daunting challenge to be faced and conquered… at some future date, possibly. Here, Stephanie writes about the attraction of pounding streets and towpaths in return for a simple T-shirt…

Dreams of Cabbage and lead
It doesn’t seem to matter how many races I enter and run I always get the anxiety dreams at least a week before the big day; whether it’s a 10 mile distance or a marathon. The Cabbage Patch 10 was no different and surely enough I was dreaming that I’d missed the start of the race, couldn’t catch up with any of the runners and my trainers were filled with lead! However, thankfully in reality a completely different scenario is played out (although if reality didn’t differ from my crazy dreams I’m guessing I may have given up on the whole running thing years ago!).

So there I was on Sunday, no lead in my trainers and well on time. I usually only enter races where I know I’m going to get a medal at the end (otherwise, really what’s the point? Frankly I’m all about the free goods at the finish line!).

Cabbage Patch 10 runners in Twickenham
So imagine my disappointment when I get my race info through my letterbox and realise no medal for me. I’ve made this mistake only once before when a mate of mine persuaded me to do the Kingston Breakfast Run: 16miles later and all I got was a mug! Needless to say my language was pretty colourful especially as it didn’t even have the date on it! This time however, I was at least informed that although no medal (sniff!) I do at least get the infamous CB10 long sleeved shirt (the second best thing to a medal is of course a fab T-shirt especially if it’s even one that fits! FYI the St. Albans half marathon delivers medals AND T-Shirts, imagine my delight!). My response to the CB10 shirt news? “It had better be good!”

I realise one should be content with simply finishing the race and feeling a real sense of achievement. But if you regularly run and race I’m sorry but the stakes get higher and “finishing” just doesn’t cut it. First of all, you want to be pain free throughout, have your breathing sorted and settle into “the zone” as quickly as possible. Secondly, as soon as you do that first race you then want to beat your personal best (PB) every time! (Warning to new runners; failure to do this may result in being a bit bummed out despite completing a race rather than feeling like you’ve won gold at the Olympics!). And thirdly, you want something to show for your efforts and weeks/months of training. That’s right…a kick ass medal with race, date and distance!! So The Cabbage Patch 10, a fast 10 mile race through Twickers, Kingston, Richmond and back again. Nice loop and a flat course. Should be PB time.

And we’re off…
Race day comes around at last. Sadly, when I wake up on the morning of the event I’m full of cold and feel really rough (it was also my birthday so to say I was a little bitter about the swollen glands, sneezing and pounding head is putting it mildly!). That said, if you ask any of my friends to guess if I would still do the run they’d all agree that I’m that stubborn… of course I ran!

It was a beautiful day, not too windy and “fresh”. In theory near perfect running conditions but I’m really all about the warmth so, for me, I was freezing waiting at the start!

Cabbage Patch 10 runners (doing some running)
I felt a bit of a penguin moment coming on as so many runners made their way to the holding area ready for the start although I think my keenness to “huddle” wasn’t really shared by other runners! I must say, The Cabbage Patch 10 didn’t (or doesn’t) attract fun runners. As I stood looking around competitors were dressed head to toe in all the ‘gear’. It was my first CB10 but far from my first race. However, if it had been my first event I would have been terrified. Conversations flying around about marathons recently completed or other races coming up. Runners ‘limbering up’ doing a few stretches, jogging on the spot etc, etc. Seriously, if that was your first race then please don’t panic. Most races are massive with loads of people simply running for charity or for total personal achievement. The CB10, whilst a good course, well organised (and clearly very popular) is mostly made up of club runners.

And then it’s over…
Despite my frustrated breathing and sneezing issue (I know, a picture of athletic health!) I was fairly happy with my time. Ironically my racing number (113) was the same as my finish time 1:13, which really isn’t too bad given my pounding head and legs of lead.

So what about that T-Shirt? I was quite impressed that you could choose your size although it appears that there may have been a sleeve length issue. I opted for a small, and in the body it’s still quite big but unless I have monkey arms the sleeves seem a bit short and tight. A couple of other runners that I got talking to post race also agreed, although despite the arm length I’m pleased to say that the T-Shirt was worth the race. So would I do the CB10 again? Yes, although if there’s the possibility of introducing a medal at the end…do it!

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Stephanie Blake

Stephanie provides a wide range of sports, remedial, pregnancy and baby massage treatments.

Her Teddington clinic is at:
5 Epic House, 128 Fulwell Rd, TW11 0RQ
http://www.stephanieblakemassage.co.uk