"} Get a life, Get active! By Fit Lesley: Challenge 9 - Levens 10K - May 2012

Challenge 9 - Levens 10K - May 2012

On Wednesday 30th May 2012 I participated in my second 10K road race at Levens, which is a small village  6 miles South of Kendal, where I live.

The Levens 10k starts in Levens Village and then moves out onto the flat plains of the Lyth Valley before starting the climb up into Brigsteer and around the village before climbing once more through Brigsteer Woods and back to Levens.

The race was the second in a series of four organised by Kendal Athletics Club.  I had missed the first race which was actually on in Kendal two weeks before.  I registered for the Levens race on the night of the Kendal run once it had dawned on me I had missed it!  My logic was if I registered beforehand I would have no excuses not to go!

The week before the run we experienced a mini heat wave (very unusual for the UK and unheard of in Cumbria!) and I was becoming slightly worried as the day approached and the sun was still fiercely hot! I tried not to panic telling myself that by the time the race started at 7.30pm it will be cool!

I realised a couple of days prior to the run that I had not received any confirmation or race number so e-mailed the organisers.  I received a very prompt reply saying that I should collect my race number and details on the night and registration opened at 6.30pm at the Institute in Levens.

The race number that was eventually assigned to me!
The Institute, Levens  - the Registration point.

The day of the race dawned and mercifully the sun had listened to my prayers and wasn’t shining, although we were left with a very muggy close day. I drove to Levens and managed to park fairly close by with not too much trouble. I arrived at the Institute just after 6.30pm to collect my race number – but ALAS – there was no number for me or any signs that I had actually entered.  Luckily I had taken the payment receipt I had received through paypal when I registered via UK Road Races and produced this as evidence!  After lots of frantic key tapping, and huffing and puffing I was tossed a race number by a very unhappy tosser gentleman! (It wasn’t my fault that someone is inept at their job!).

Anyhow, feeling slightly disgruntled by this not so warm welcome I went outside to attach my number to my T. Shirt at the same time feeling quite smug that I had actually remembered safety pins as there was an awful lot of other runners scrabbling around trying to beg, borrow or steal some!  The other runners who were milling around were much more friendly than the surly man on the desk and the time soon passed with me chatting to others and then I was invited by another female runner to join her in a warm-up jog  (I did think I'd be better saving my energy but wanted to look professional like the rest!).

Then there was the announcement - we were to make our way to the start as the race was about to begin!  Looking around me at the other runners gathered together and panic slowly rose, starting from my feet and coursing up through by body – all the others looked like elite runners with club vests – what on earth was I doing here? A run for fun -er! I slinked to the very back whilst wondering if anyone would notice if I just didn’t start! Before anymore negative thoughts came to mind we were off - at a hell of a pace! My race plan of doing a slow first mile before stepping it up went out the window!  I was swept along with everyone else and as the first section was downhill it was very difficult not to get carried away and run fast!  The field started to spread out a little, and the fast runners could be seen disappearing into the distance.  I was happy knowing that I had runners behind me … couldn’t stand the humiliation of actually coming last!

The very long and boring road to nowhere  Brigsteer!
The race went down a very long straight flat road through the Lyth Valley for about 3 miles. I have always thought flat races would be good, but I found this particular road mentally challenging. It was so boring, straight and uninspiring and seemed to go on for a marathon distance.  My pace was slowing (although it needed to as I had set off doing 6.46 minute /mile and had I continued with this I would have been hospitalised dead).  Initially whilst running along this road I overtook one or two runners but then with nothing to distract me the negative thoughts crept in – “I’m too hot”, “I’m thirsty”, “I’m tired” and as I had stupidly given blood only 2 days before I started thinking “I don’t have enough blood left in me!”. I was then overtaken by a couple of runners which made my self-confidence plummet further and I was thinking “Why on earth am I putting myself through this!” and at this point I think I would say I actually hated running!

At the 3 mile marker I was relieved to see a drinks station!  The perfect excuse opportunity to stop! My mouth felt dry and furry and I needed as much liquid as I could get! I set off again with renewed vigour and I actually felt relief when we turned towards Brigsteer and I was faced with a hill!  Something to take my mind off all my imaginary ailments!

As the race is a small local event there wasn’t the supporters lining the roads offering encouragement but the marshals’ did a super job of supporting us.  The route from Brigsteer was undulating hilly, and although I had sussed out the route on my bike the week before – the hills seemed to have grown!  I was certainly not mentally in the right place to do my best, and after several runners overtook me I made a huge mistake … I looked behind me!  There was no one there!  I was on my own!  Was I last? Instead of spurring me on this deflated me further and I decided there and then that I was a useless runner! I was delighted to see the 6 mile marker … but since when has 0.21 miles been THAT far!  I eventually made it through the finish line to the claps and support of the other faster runners and spectators and the first thing I asked was “Am I last?”  I WASN’T!  I was immediately offered a drink of water which was very gratefully accepted and I waited with bated breath for my confirmed time. I had another disappointment to contend with - NO MEDAL after all I'd been through!!! :-(

Initially I had wanted to beat my last 10K time of 54 minutes 6 seconds, but then whilst I was struggling to actually keep running my only thoughts and desires were to finish the bloody race!  I actually managed 57 minutes and 4 seconds, which was 3 minutes 2 seconds slower than my PB but not as bad as I had expected considering how little energy I had!

After chatting with the other runners and sharing experiences I realised I'd done not a bad job ... considering the weather, the hills and giving blood 2 days before -  I wasn't ready to retire from running - just yet!

You can view my experience here!

To end on a positive note after all the negatives - we ran through some truly beautiful countryside!

Race stats:

Average Pace 9.08 min/mile
Fastest Pace 6.12 min/mile (Silly silly silly)
Time: 57:04
Position: 83rd/92 (not quite last!)
Medal: NONE!

The results!!


  1. so you came 8th in your category well done, and you beat 2 men ;-)

  2. Now that's putting a positive spin on it!!! Three men actually!!!