It’s early morning on the 9th May 2010, and I’m standing in a crowd of runners waiting to launch into panic mode to dash across the starting line of the Bracknell Half Marathon. There is a moment to reflect on how I ended up at this point while I’m humming to my favourite tunes blasting through my earphones I had a few months off from work and decided I needed to find something that would motivate and keep myself busy. Running a half marathon was the obvious choice, right?! A marathon at the time was going a bit far, and a 10km race just didn’t seem quite enough. I wanted to raise some money for Cancer research in memory of my Mum, and it felt right to push myself and make every penny donated count.
Attempting this kind of race needed some preparation. I was a visual effects artist with a round belly, and my only recent experience of physical activity was lifting weights at the gym. The only time I ran was at school in cross country, and I was not a natural! I seriously needed to get out of the house and run. I got myself a pair of shoes, a Nike+ wristband that clocked the miles and I set off. I just went by feel and gradually built up the miles over time until I reached my goal distance before the race. My hometown in Buckinghamshire is relatively hilly, and every mile was a tough grind, but I kept at it through sheer determination. I wanted to cross that finish line and make my Mum proud!
I had no concept of training zones, creating a run schedule, cross training or running at a set heart rate, I only knew I needed to run somewhere close to 21km before I ran the race.
When I crossed the line, I was feeling a mixture of accomplishment and nausea from ‘sprinting’ the last 400 meters. They said the finish line was ‘just around the corner.’ That was a long corner!!
My finish time was 1:49. I had no idea if that was good at the time but I was pretty chuffed, and this kept me running beyond the race. I certainly felt the runners high!
Shortly after the half marathon, I felt the urge to sign up for a marathon! I soon realised it wasn’t as easy as I pictured it to be. With barely six months of running behind me and a terrible set of shoes, a leg injury struck me and I was forced to step back and recover. It was tough training alone, and I didn’t know anyone I could turn to for guidance about training and injury prevention. I decided that a marathon wasn’t for me just yet, but that didn’t stop me running!