I remember clearly the day I signed up to run the Oxford Half marathon. I had run one 7km race and was training for a 10km race, but had not run any further than 5 miles. Of course I put the question out to the world of Facebook. Some people said “It’s more than double a 10km race, you won’t manage it.” Others said “I did it without any training.” So I put it to my lovely supportive husband, thinking he would say no as it was taking place on his daughter’s birthday. But he didn’t, and I had to sign up!
I had around 20 weeks to prepare my body to run 13.1 miles – 13.1 miles, why on earth would I want to run 13.1 miles? Is it not the reason cars were invented? Stop being silly I told myself. At the end of the day, I still had it at the back of my mind I would one day run the full marathon – this was half the distance.
Research. I needed to research and plan. I needed a spreadsheet. Most training plans had four running days. I do not have the luxury to run four days a week, I needed to find a plan which would get me up to distance only running three days a week. I found Busy Girls Half Marathon Plan. I don’t think you would believe me if I tried to describe to you just how much I studied this plan. I decided I needed to re-write the plan. To put the runs on the days I could run and plan my “cross-training” (when I discovered what it meant.)
The Friday night pilates video lasted all of one week, but I pretty much stuck to the rest of it. I had to. It was the only way I felt I could ever possibly run 13.1 miles.
I hated every step.
Even the shorter runs were a chore.
Every single run made me feel like I was dying, but I was ticking off the miles. Every step was a step closer to my 500 mile target for Blue Skye Thinking. Every step was making me stronger, physically and more importantly mentally.
With four weeks to go, I set out to do a 10 mile run. For some reason I decided not to worry about how fast I was going. I wanted to look around and try and enjoy the journey. To my amazement, I loved it. I loved every step of it.
This run proved more important to my 13.1 mile journey than any of the others, as life got in the way. September was a busy month in the hot tub business. We had a couple of shows, were short staffed and I was struggling to fit in my long runs.
Seventeen days before the big day was to be my last long run. I could see Little J was going down with something. I couldn’t run at the weekend because of the hot tub show, so headed out to try and do at least 11 miles. At the 9 mile point my knee gave in, so I headed home in pain.
Sixteen days to go, chickenpox struck and I had a few days of forced rest with a poorly little man on my lap.
Seven days to go and I set out for a 10km run. My goodness it hurt. My goodness it was slow. My goodness was I scared.
I needed some positivity. I needed to believe I could do this.
I booked in to see Lisa at Pea Green Physio and was hoping she would either rule me out or sort me out. I couldn’t see myself getting around any other way. Lisa is one of the most positive people I know, so of course she said she would strap me up and get me around.
With fours days to go I was really struggling mentally. I was sat in Little J’s room waiting for him to go to sleep when something popped up on my phone. It was a raspberry face icon from FitBit. I opened the app to see this:
I feel so embarrassed about it now, but I was so upset. I was sat in the dark, in pain, worried about the race on Sunday and all I could see was a raspberry face – someone gloating. My poor sister in law felt the brunt of my upset. She had no idea what was going on in my head. I’m not even sure if she knew I was running on the Sunday – she definitely didn’t know I was in pain.
It was a turning point for me.
I was holding it too tightly.
I was worrying too much about time. About how I would look. About finishing last.
I needed to let it go.
There is a reason for every one of my decisions in life. Whatever I decided, it was right for me. Right then and there I let go and trusted. I decided I would find the 2:30 pacer and stick with her. I knew I could run very comfortably at 11:15 min/miles. I knew, if my knee held out, I could get around.
On the morning of the race, I met up with some of the other Run Mummy Run crew who had signed up for the race.
A few of us were half marathon virgins and all of us were cold and nervous.
When the time came to get into our pens, it was safe to say I was shaking. Whether it was from being so cold I had lost the sensation in my feet, or the fact I was terrified, I will never know. I made a bee line for the lovely 2:30 pacer – Charlotte and started, what turned out to be, a 3 hour chat!
I honestly couldn’t have done it without Charlotte chatting to me for 11.5 miles. She was amazing.
As we left university parks, I had a little moment. The kilometres were dropping at a really fast pace. I felt so strong (thanks to the ibuprofen meltlets). For the first time, I KNEW I was going to make the finish line. Another lady who was sticking to Charlotte like glue, was Ros. She was feeling strong too, so we decided to break out and push on.
OMG the feeling I felt as we crossed that line hand in hand….
The moment I stopped, I couldn’t bend my knee. It was broken!
We walked back after receiving our bling to congratulate Karen (another RMR lady who ran with us) and thank Charlotte.
Two days later and I signed up for another half – somehow I will fix my knee before then.
The biggest lesson I learnt about my running journey – time doesn’t matter! Running is part of who I am now. Someone will always be quicker – no matter how “good” I get. Time doesn’t matter. Enjoying the journey does. Making friends along the way does. Building people up and encouraging them does. Unless you’re Mo Farah, time really doesn’t!