Duncan Whyte Ambassador Blog 3With less than a week to go until race day for the Mens 10K in Edinburgh, I am starting to get excited for the event. The weather forecast for the week looks positive and here’s hoping it remains that way for Sunday 3 rd November at the start line on the Royal Mile where I hope to stand shoulder to shoulder with many of you reading this blog.
October seems to have gone past in a flash and has been peppered with amongst other things my birthday, a family holiday, far too much wine and much excited discussion about Halloween costumes from my 5 and 6 year olds respectively. A busy time for sure but nonetheless I have managed to keep pounding the pavement and continue at a pace with my training in preparation for the big day. Much of my running has now moved indoors as the nights draw in and the clocks have now gone back meaning darkness has invariably fallen before I get home from work never mind get changed and out for a run. This is a challenge for my own commitment and motivation as the prospect of boarding the treadmill at my local gym hardly makes my heart sing the way in which a brisk jog around the local park and all the sensory pleasures that are an intrinsic part of that does. Running face to face with a breezeblock wall or staring vacantly at 24hr news channels doesn’t really inspire the legs to keep turning but two recent visits to The Yard (see my previous blog post) in both Edinburgh and Dundee with my family have kept my fires burning and reinvigorated my determination to support this amazing charitable venture, to honour my responsibilities to those who have donated to this organisation through my just giving page (https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/duncan-whyte1), and to do my supporters and myself proud. Despite time away from home and the shortening days, my training has been going well and I am feeling positive about the physical and mental test that lies ahead. I don’t think I am quite in the shape to trouble my PB of 47:43 for a 10k but am hoping to make a sub 50 min time on Sunday.
I finished off my last blog by sharing that I was preparing to take part in my second half marathon. Having polished off a curry and a couple of cold beverages on a rare child free evening with my wife the night before, I can confirm that I completed the Great Scottish Run 2019 in Glasgow in a time of 1:53:57 which took nearly 4mins off my previous attempt at this distance. To say I was surprised would be an understatement. Whilst I have kept my running going over the course of the year it has certainly fluctuated as life has carved its own course of meandering paths and ups and downs throughout 2019. The rich food and alcohol turned out not to be the only way to ill prepare for the day. Normally I would look out all my essentials for race day the night before to ensure that I have all I need to run, stay comfortable and get home safely. In my childless glee I had neglected to do this and found myself rummaging around at a very unsociable hour on a Sunday morning trying to procure what I needed from home without waking the missus. The essentials were covered; shorts, t shirt, running socks, trainers, headphones, phone, gum etc. However two luxuries were nowhere to be found. Anti-chafe gel and plasters. Anyone who has run an extended distance will know exactly what these are for and the perils of running without them. Whilst I am undoubtedly rapidly approaching middle age (if I am not there already), my BMI remains to cling on to the ‘normal’ range if only just. However, rubbing thighs for 21.2km is not going to be fun for anyone and I would recommend anyone taking on this longer distance to liberally apply an appropriate gel pre-race to wherever you feel you need it. After all, you are worth it. The plasters of course are for protecting the most sensitive parts of anyone’s chest. This is something I have found to my cost especially when running in hot, humid conditions when the raw tenderness of sandpapered nipples has been felt for the following week. A simple band aid over your ‘mips’ (urban dictionary says this is a real term) can ease a whole lot of post-race recovery. I decided not to panic and planned a stop off at a large supermarket mid journey. What I envisaged to be a quick dash around the aisles turned out to be a bit more traumatic. Plasters, plasters, plasters, plasters, should be about here…. None left…double check…nope definitely none left….except…a child’s pack of plasters…peppa pig plasters. Fine I thought, my mips wont judge me and will thank me the next day. Next for the anti chafe gel. I tried every aisle, twice. Not a drop in sight. I can’t do this without this wonder serum. I must find a substitute. Time was now a factor. Think..think…I found myself back in the healthcare aisle. Then it happened. I turned and clocked what seemed like an oasis in the desert. KY Jelly. I wasn’t going to use it for its intended purpose(s) but surely it would do the trick, reduce the friction of my burning thighs. Before I knew it the most unlikely of bedfellows were in my basket. I headed for the self-checkout as I generally always do, scanned in a rush and looked out my credit card before the checkout spoke to me. Truth be told, it didn’t just speak to me, it felt like it spoke to the whole store. ‘Sorry, this item is not recognised, a colleague is on their way’. Before my heart could properly sink, my eyes fixated on the items in the packing area. As I lifted them, they met the gaze of a store assistant called Glenda. I know this because for what must have been just a few seconds, the world seemed to stand still and I had what felt like an age to decipher the letters on the store assistants name badge. The look on both our faces as we stood side by side at the checkout on a Sunday morning around 8.13am at my very light but curious shopping told two tales of disbelief as to what was happening. Things then seemed to snap back into real time and a swift key entry followed by some furious pressing of buttons had me on my way without a word being uttered between us. Glenda either meets a lot of people buying kids plasters and a sensual lubricant at all hours of the day or was just too polite to enquire further. Or perhaps the company have a policy of what goes on in store stays in store. Either way, I could swear the security guy at the door smiled at me as I made a hasty retreat to the exit. Not a good sign in any context. I made it to Glasgow, sorted myself out, really enjoyed the run, soaked up the atmosphere and felt a real sense of accomplishment in finishing the race at all and of course beating my previous time. I am very much looking forward to a similar experience in Edinburgh at the end of the week.It was unseasonably warm on that race day in Glasgow for late September and as I crossed the finish line and slowed my pace to standing still, I took a few minutes to catch my breath and congratulate some fellow finishers. Being such a warm day, my top was soaked and I decided to remove it as I walked through Glasgow Green. The air in my lungs and on my skin felt great. As my sense of post-race euphoria started to subside, I started to notice I was getting more attention than I was used to. Extended gazes from passers-by and some muffled smirking. What was going on? Then a child walked past me and duly pointed and laughed at me. I couldn’t work it out and put it down to some misplaced west coast sense of humour. It was when a man roughly my age and holding the hand of his daughter who would have been in the same year as mine had they gone to the same school walked past and hummed a tune at me with a wicked smile on his face that the penny then dropped. ‘Duh- duh, Duh-duh, duhduhduhduhduh-duh’. That tune is engrained in my brain like a twisted earworm from many an early morning being woken by my wee girl and crawling up on the sofa with her and switching on the TV for a few minutes before I need to make breakfast or role play in some terrible princess game. Peppa bloody pig. I looked down at my chest and loud and proud, having done the exact job they were procured for, still in perfect positioning were the child’s plasters I had bought earlier in the day. Of course in the days and weeks that have passed I have thought of lots of witty comebacks I could have retorted my tormentor with. None of which of course came to me at the time. All I could do was laugh at myself and then do what daddy pig would have done in such circumstances. Own the moment, walk like a boss and strut off into the sunset. I won’t forget that day in a hurry for lots of reasons.
Sharing what was a mildly mortifying experience on what was otherwise probably the best running experience I have had with you seems important for two reasons. Firstly, to ensure you have the best day possible, be prepared. Hopefully you have done some training already, gradually extending the length of your runs over an appropriate time period ensuring that you are in physical shape to take on what is a challenging distance. Be prepared to set yourself a realistic target of what you hope to achieve on race day and be prepared to exceed that as running with others nearly always results in quicker times. Be prepared at least the night before with all the essential and luxury items you need for the 3 rd November and plan out how you will get to and from the start and finish lines respectively in advance. This will lead to a more relaxed pre and post-race experience and add to what I am sure will be a great day for all those participating. Secondly, be prepared for an unshakable sense of solidarity with your fellow competitors who will be taking on the same endeavours as you. Be prepared for an overwhelming feeling of achievement and wellbeing on completion of the course that will last hours and days as the gravitas of your accomplishment sinks in. Be prepared for people on the streets and at BT Murrayfield shouting your name, spurring you on and getting right behind you as you seek to attain your personal goals. Be prepared to inspire others through your commitment and dedication in overcoming personal barriers. You won’t meet or hear from all the people who you affect through your involvement in the event, but you will have motivated someone somewhere to set their own individual goals and show the same gritty attitude towards achieving these as you set out to do on Sunday. Be prepared to promote the work of countless charitable organisations carrying out invaluable work in a myriad of settings supporting many lives. Be prepared to make the people who love and care for you proud. Finally, be prepared to be a focal point for raising awareness of men’s health issues. We all have men in our lives. We are all a man in the lives of others. We all matter and we all need to be better at looking after ourselves and at looking after each other. After all, that would be the manly thing to do now wouldn’t it?
I am hoping to see some of you other dads, grandads, sons, uncles and brothers at the start line on the Royal Mile for the Men’s 10k in Edinburgh 2019. In my final blog, I will let you know how I got on, share my post-race thoughts and feelings and share some key messages on modern masculinity. Til then.
If you are reading this blog and feel like you would make even the smallest of contributions to The Yard then you can do so by visiting my JustGiving page at https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/duncan-whyte1 This would help to support The Yard continue to support the development of and create wonderful experiences for children with additional support needs.