Smashed it!

Today, I’m super proud of myself.

At the beginning of the year a work friend and I decided we were going to start running together, with the aim of running the Worcester Race For Life 10k in July 2019.

There was a fairly high probability that this New Year’s resolution would fall away into oblivion like so many of my past ones. But I hadn’t factored my running buddy, Jo, into the equation. Jo is probably one of the most determined and driven people I know. Once we had agreed to train together there was no way she was going to allow me to give up or slack off.

So at the beginning of the year we began running twice a week after work. We started with a couple of miles, lots of chat, intermittent walking. But we quickly (because Jo wasn’t going to let us be slovenly about this) built our distance up to 5K and the walking sections became shorter and less frequent. Before I really knew what was happening we were running 4 or 5 miles with just 1 or 2 short walking sections in each run. We weren’t speedy, mainly because I’m old and slow. Jo is a bit younger than me and a lot fitter. She could definitely go faster but we were a team and she was happy to slow the pace down for me. As long as we kept running a bit further or a bit faster each time we were happy. I’m sure I was holding her back but she’s too lovely to admit that!

There have been so many days where I really didn’t want to run at all. Sometimes I was so busy at work which meant that finishing at a reasonable time to fit a run in before it became too dark was tricky. Sometimes I was shattered before we even started. Or I just wanted to go home and put my feet up with a glass of wine. But because of the promise I made to Jo I never felt I could let her down. So we just carried on. Each run felt that little bit easier.

We have spent hours running together over the last 4 months. We’ve even managed to talk quite a lot while running. I find breathing is difficult enough so holding a conversation was tough at first. But it was good to be able to debrief after a stressful day in the office, or have the time to catch up on those days where we just passed each other in the corridor (despite sitting next to each other). After a few weeks I found myself looking forward to our runs. I wasn’t expecting that.

Today was our first “official” 10k run. Crowle 10k was to be a training run for July’s RFL. We planned to run the first half without stopping, have a little walk in the middle and then hope to push through the last 2.5 mile or so. We were hoping for 11 minute miles but agreed that if we came in under 1 hour 15 mins we’d be happy. We met up with other friends, experienced runners who would be way ahead of us. But they gave us their top tips and some advice. What they failed to tell us, or rather decided not to tell us, is that the route has a couple of moderate uphill sections, particularly in the second half.

Today was sunny and warm. Too warm for us really and there was very little shade along the route. Throw in the hilly sections and that made for quite a tough race. By 6k I was starting to flag. My legs were heavy and my breathing laboured. I was ready for our planned walk. But Jo had other ideas. She decided that we shouldn’t walk but we’d slow things down a bit instead. Without her I’d have stopped and rested for a few minutes. But after a small slow section we powered on through, picking the pace up again.

By the time we reached the 8k marker, it was starting to feel like we were nearly there. But it was so hot and we had a fairly long hilly section looming in front of us. Our run was about to get tough. The supporters along the route were incredible and the atmosphere really helped get me round. One family set up a hose on the side of the road, sprinkling us all with water. This, and the water station around the same point, gave me such a boost. I started to believe that we could actually get to the finish line without walking at all.

The last 1k was really hard work. It was largely uphill and my legs were dead. But again the supporters really helped and somehow my legs just kept on going. And there was no way I was going to let Jo down so close to the end. With just a lap of the field to go I was starting to feel a bit emotional. Karl and Tina were there cheering us on – having finished in 46:36 and 52:44 minutes respectively. Jo and I were really struggling by this point. But we crossed the finishing line together with an official time of 1:06:22 totally smashing our 1:15 target time. We ran the whole distance without walking – and there wasn’t too much chatting going on either!

2 years ago I thought I’d never run again. It’s not easy to see how you’ll ever regain fitness when you’re in the middle of cancer treatment. So today I’m proud of all I’ve achieved, thankful for my supportive friends (especially Jo for making me do this!) and very, very happy to have been able to take part today. I’m not quite so happy about being labelled as a veteran runner though! Veteran! At 48! 😬😳😂

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