On my original bucket list, I challenged myself to enter a 10k race. At the beginning of this year that really was a challenge for me, and it took a lot of work for me to manage to complete it. Owning trainers is still a fairly new concept for me, and when I started running I was running in borrowed Tesco trainers. At school I didn’t attend PE after year nine. Exercise does not come naturally for me! This time last year I hadn’t even heard of a burpee. When I went for a run I was aiming to one day be able to share my 6+ km run on Facebook with the caption “Fighting For Seven” which was the name of the band Steve was in when we met. But it took me a long, long time to get past 5k.
So after I completed my 10k race back in April (in fancy dress!), and then went on to run a further 7k that evening (in a different fancy dress outfit!) without actually dying, I thought that maybe a half marathon was not such a scary prospect. I wanted a proper challenge to throw myself into. I signed up for the Dartmoor Vale half marathon, bought myself some proper trainers, made some excellent fitness plans, and stuck to none of them! But I did get out there running, mainly by myself. I also started going to a Boot Camp on the beach with some Mums from school. The more I trained the less confident I became. A month ago I ran another 10k race for some more race practice, and it got me excited again. Then a fortnight ago I ran 12 miles by myself, without even music to distract me (didn’t want to waste phone battery and not record my mileage!!) and felt good about it. But then I barely ran after that. When I did go out I was slow and uncomfortable and gave up after a couple of miles. Confidence blown once again.
I got a little boost when someone pointed out that race day was after the clocks changed, so I’d get an extra hour in bed! I had every intention of really cutting back on drinking before the race, but on Friday night I “accidentally” got drunk – it meant I rested up on Saturday though!!
Next thing I knew it was race day. I warmed up with my friend Gavin, who had suggested the race in the first place, and he gave me some sweets to eat during the race. These kept me going, as they helped me split the race up and have smaller goals – I was just trying to get to the next sweet stop rather than to the end. I had them at 4, 8 and 12 miles and they worked a treat.
I ran with a girl called Bryony, who I’d met once before for a run. We had a really similar pace throughout and made a good little team. I would even go as far as to say that I enjoyed it. The weather was nice, cold, dry, sunny. I saw Steve at about 5 miles, and then my friend Laura was there to cheer me on, right at the bottom of a massive hill, exactly where I needed a boost.
At about 11.5 miles I was flagging so she ran on ahead, I managed not to stop until the end but WOW it was hard. My hands were freezing cold and had pins and needles. I felt sick and shaky and like I could not go on. There was a nice moment when Steve drove past with the boys and they shouted out of the window. In my head I was just trying to get to 13 miles and then to sprint the last 0.1 miles, but when that time came I had nothing more to give so I didn’t speed up at all. For the last mile, people who had already finished were walking back to their cars, and they were all really supportive and that boosted me.
Turning the final corner, I saw the finish line, and Steve and the boys and knew it was almost over! I crossed the line and felt…nothing. I didn’t feel relieved or proud or anything, just so SO tired. All I wanted was to go and sleep. I had a headache and a sore throat and I was tired and hungry and just felt ill. I would compare it to when I had just given birth to Oscar. I don’t really remember, but I wasn’t interested in him at all, just so exhausted. All I wanted was a shower and lots of sleep.
I stayed in bed most of the afternoon, and dragged myself out of bed at 5pm so that my friend Jen could take me out for a celebratory drink. I felt absolutely horrific, but a pint of shandy at the Ship soon perked me up! We got pizza too and that sorted me out.
Of course, now I am already thinking about next year. I will definitely be entering it again and trying to beat my time (though I can’t see myself ever breaking 2 hours!). I think the trick will be to be more strict on the not drinking thing (I’ll be 30 and a grown up by then so that will be easy right?) and to eat more breakfast before the race. In the meantime I am enjoying the revelation that if you own trainers, they can also be worn as comfortable day to day footwear – this has changed my life!