Back in November 2010, lying in my hospital bed in the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, I decided I was going to run a 10k the following year to raise money for Cancer Research UK.
Unable to walk at the time and undergoing treatment because of a chemotherapy overdose, at the time, it felt like an impossible dream. However, I went on the make a full recovery and did take part in the Great Yorkshire Run in the October of 2011. I ran the first 5k and jeffed (a run/walk system named after famous marathon runner, Jeff Galloway) the rest. My time was 1:14:57.
Although undertaking that 10k did make me feel happy about my achievement, I still hadn’t really fallen in love with running. I fell pregnant a few months later and my fitness took a back seat. In 2013, determined to regain some sort of me-time in my life, I started running again alongside my beloved Zumba classes. This time, I was determined to run a 10k without stopping. I took part in the Great Yorkshire Run again on September 29th 2013 – exactly a year after my due date. I completed the entire thing without stopping in a time of 1:07:20. Fast forward to February 2014 and I managed to get my 10k time down to 59 minutes on the dot at the Valentine’s 10k in Norfolk.
Another child and a few hurdles in my personal life later, I fell out of love with running. The Great North Run in 2017 offered a fantastic atmosphere, but a lack of training (my own fault) meant that I struggled. I was ecstatic to manage to run the first 9 miles, but thereafter, it was tough.
Fast forward a little further. Colin and I started chatting, falling in love fairly quickly and ferociously. He had recently taken up running and encouraged me to go out for a few 5k runs with him here and there. But, while his passion for running grew stronger, mine began to wane. My anxiety took over my life and I found myself unable to even attend Zumba for a significant period of time. A few runs here and there took place, but nothing significant. I decided to change that. After all, I am the only person who can change how I see myself in this world and my ambitions for my future fitness.
A few months ago, I entered the ballot for the London Landmarks Half Marathon. I knew that I would need to run a couple of races beforehand and happened upon the EAMA 10k in Wymondham. It was a new race for 2019 and only a few miles down the road. I quickly signed up myself and Colin (he didn’t really have a choice). Once we did finally discuss it, he offered to stick with me throughout as knew I would find it tough.
I woke up this morning feeling so nervous, sorting out my running kit just seemed to make it worse. It has been over two years since I raced. I knew I wasn’t on track for a PB, but what does that matter? I am five years older than I was when I achieved my sub-1 hour 10k time and I certainly do not have the opportunity to run/train as much these days. As soon as I arrived at race HQ, the nerves settled or at least I think they did. The shivering perhaps shouldn’t have been attributed to the cold after all? Walking from the HQ to the start line warmed me up a little and then, before we knew it, the race was underway. The first kilometre was rather crowded and I struggled to find enough space to put my feet at times. Weaving in and out of other runners is not my favourite thing to do, but to be in with a chance of getting a sub-70 minute chip time, I knew I had to go for it.
At the fourth kilometre, I finally settled into my race pace and felt comfortable and confident. We continued to overtake people and I was even smiling at times! Unfortunately, at around 7.5km, I really began to struggle and I kept begging to stop. Well, begging is a little too strong, but I kept threatening stopping. A few swigs of water and I was able to continue. This happened on several occasions though and I was fearful of falling short of my own expectations, missing the 70-minute mark.
Hitting 9km, finally I was able to pick up my pace again. I knew the end was close and so I powered on through, even able to give a much quicker finish than I had anticipated. Colin stayed by me, encouraging me and pushing me (figuratively and literally at times!) throughout the race. If he hadn’t been there, I have no doubt whatsoever that I wouldn’t have achieved my target. In fact, I smashed it, finishing in 1:04:37 – over 5 minutes faster than I aimed to!
The race was well-organised and for just £16 (non-affiliated) with a goodie bag containing both a t-shirt and medal, I would certainly recommend it to others. I am currently researching other local races and wondering if I can sign up to another one or two before the London Landmarks race in March.
I know the benefits of running and how it helps me with my general fitness as well as my mental health, so fingers crossed I can stick at it again. Time will tell…