The Liverpool Santa Dash

Events, Personal 7 Dec 10

I’ve photographed this event many times. Its a great photo op as town is filled with comedy moments. Coffee shops / pubs filled with Santa’s and so on. This year I ran it. Thats how dedicated I am to getting new photos.  Well, maybe not. I ran it because I wanted to run it. Simply that.

18 months ago there was more to me than there is now. I didn’t like it so I tried changing it by walking. It didn’t have any real effect even though I was walking 10k a day. Around October 2009 my friend Marcel said he was going to run a 10K race in 2010. I thought he was crazy. I also found out that my then friend Sam was also a runner. She ran 5k at least 3 times a week. 3 times!? To me a 5k was a big deal, something you do maybe once a year for charity. That is why most people enter these races I thought. You ask people to sponsor you because you’re doing something crazy like running a 5k. Madness. Also at that time Eddie Izzard was doing a marathon a day. So I figured I’d try running instead of walking. I needed to really up my game and lose weight.

I got some running shoes designed to fix my wonky leg issue and on October 27th 2009 I set out on my first run. It was a simple run as I was using a 3 month training program. 6 x 30 second bursts. I loved it. Comfy shoes and I really felt like I was running. I kept going but I was ill in November so I had to restart. By the time the annual Santa Dash came around I had been “running” for about 4 weeks. My girlfriend Sam ran the Santa Dash for the first time. It was great seeing her run it. I walked around the course and photographed people running. Thing is though, I saw people walking too and people pushing prams! I felt quite guilty about it. I was training for a 5k and while I couldn’t run it I could have walked. So I decided to enter next year, assuming I actually kept my training going. That was now my goal. I was training for the 2010 Santa Dash. I had a year so I figured that was enough.

The plan was to be able to run a 5k by sometime in Feb 2010. We got hit by the insane ice last winter so I was forced to take a break from training. After the ice melted I was ill so I had a long break of about 6 weeks. I restarted the program, again. For Easter Sam was due to run a charity 5k and suggested I try for it. I was way off my target of being able to run a 5k but I figured I could run/walk it. It was a low key event so I wouldn’t feel too bad for walking it. Thing is I didn’t want to walk it. I didn’t want to let Sam down by walking. So I didn’t. I ran it with a break in the middle. The last run I did before this was a set of 5 minute bursts. The longest I’d ran for was 5 minutes and off I went for 17! This was all due to my running partner. As a novice runner I can honestly say that the single best thing for keeping you going is another runner. They help you set a good pace and simply motivate you by being there. Its tough doing a 5k on your own as your mind tries to make you quit. “I can’t do this! Its too cold. I’m sore.” That, as odd as it sounds, it normal. It is too cold, you are sore but you can do it. It takes sheer willpower to force yourself to do it and having a running partner helps so much.

That was me after the 5k run. My first medal, for anything. It was only a cheap plastic fun medal but it still meant a lot. I’d done it, almost. I ran a 5k but with a break so I pushed on. I watched the London Marathon on TV and I saw normal people, overweight looking people, running it. I again felt guilty about sitting on the couch watching these people do something like that. A part of me, a small part, wanted to do that. Madness though. Around this time the Mersey Tunnel 10K was on and I came close to signing up, even if I again walked/ran it. I didn’t sign up and felt a bit guilty for doing so. But I knew I would do the Santa Dash. That was going to be my first real proper big run.

Over the year I kept running and running. 5k became 7k became 10k and I can now do 16k without any real issue. I was tempted to sign up for more runs during the year but I really wanted the first time I crossed a proper finish line to be the Santa Dash. That was my goal a year ago.

So here we are on a very icey Sunday morning. Not the best welcoming sign I must admit. While we were waiting the police were out checking the route was safe to run. If the conditions by the Pier Head were anything to go by we were all going to slide to our graves.

My running partner and girlfriend Sam while we waited for the start. 9:30ish came and away we went. Due to the cold conditions I was wrapped up under my Santa Suit. It was so cold that I just didn’t know how to judge it. Shorts? Nah, too cold so I went with tracksuit bottoms and 2 running tops. A mistake I can tell you. By the time we reached the fly-over I was boiling but I was loving the run. We were at the head of the run, being over taken but also over taking others so it was all good.

Its crazy seeing so many people running like that. Amazing but crazy. We ran on passing a few photographers we knew. They all missed us, tsk tsk. Round to Old Hall Street, then back round to Dale Street and the home stretch. It was an incredible feeling crossing that line holding hands with Sam. We did it! I knew we could but it was the end of something I started over a year ago. I loved it.

My photos this year weren’t as good as previous. I blame the light as every year its gloriously sunny. I guess as I was running this year there was no need for good light ;)

So its done. I’ll keep doing them. I still felt guilty after running it. I didn’t raise any money. A 5k run, thats what people do for charity isn’t it? I didn’t and I felt like I should have done. But you see I can do a 5k any day of the week. I’m not boasting I’m simply saying its not that big a deal. Surely doing something for charity means you have to push yourself or do something crazy. My friend Ade did the Movember thing and grew a tash. Thats a crazy thing to do for a month. You have to put yourself out there.

Which leads me on to another point. People say not to over do it and to listen to your body. Know your limits. Annoyingly I lost the manual that came with mine so I don’t know my limit. It seems that I currently don’t have one. Every time I hit a new “limit” I break it the next month. So I’m at 16k and I know in my heart I can do more. I’ve mentioned on Twitter and told a few friends.  I’m definitely going to do more. I’m going to do that big thing that you don’t do every week and raise some real money for charity. Part of me feels like I should be using my new found legs to raise money for charity. I saw a guy on Twitter had lost 3 stone and raised something like £8,000 for a cancer charity. 3 stone in exchange for £8,000?! Well I’ve lost nearly 6 stone so shouldn’t I be able to raise £16,000 for charity? I feel guilty for not having tried.

I’m going to enter the Mersey Half Marathon in March 2011. A half marathon is just over 21km. So thats another 5km on top of what I can do now, another 30 minutes running. I can do that. Thats the big crazy thing I’m going to do for charity. However, there’s a chance that Liverpool will get a full marathon in October 2011. I’ve already registered my interest in that because I really do feel like its something I need to do. At what point in your life do you feel fit and healthy after being badly overweight? I don’t know if I ever will properly feel like a “normal” healthy person. But I feel like if I can run a marathon then I’m a step closer to feeling healthy.

As yet I don’t have a charity in mind. It will probably be related to something my Dad has or my Mum had. Running has helped me and I’d like to help others if I can. You only have to look at this photo to see how much its helped me. The difference a year can make.

Half marathon in March 2011. Possible full marathon in October 2011. I am mad but I think that helps.

by

Photographer and part time Spider-man.

Comments 6

  1. Neuro_Support says on 7 Dec 10

    @petemc well done Pete- hope @Neuro_Support gets a thought when planning future runs!

  2. Martin Waters says on 7 Dec 10

    Not just a maybe Pete – the contract between Liverpool City Council and Runliverpool was signed last week, the Tunnel authorities are onboard and the Mersey Marathon is a dead cert for 9/10/11! Couldn’t do Santa dash because of injury, but I’m already in for the Liverpool Half and pre-registered for the Marathon – see you there mate! :)

    • Pete says on 7 Dec 10

      O rly? I pre-registered on the site but I haven’t heard anything.

  3. timdp says on 7 Dec 10

    Guilt is not an emotion you should be feeling Pete. Running is a very personal thing and what matters is that you are out and exercising and enjoying it. There’s plenty of time for sponsorship/big events in the future. Thank you for being an inspiration and keep running.

  4. Mike says on 16 Jan 11

    Well done… keep putting one foot in front of the other..

    then maybe try the Liverpool triathlon. Like you I hadn’t done anything for years and last year did the sprint tri. it was great and not as difficult as people imagine… this year the full length tri.. ;-)

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