If you saw my post back in February you’ll know that I was lucky enough to be offered a place to run Vitality London 10,000 for The Children’s Society. You’ll also know I am not a runner. Less than four months later it seems surreal for me to be sitting here writing a post about running 10k, but I did it! Yesterday along with 12,000 other runners (including Olympian Supermum Jo Pavey) I ran through the streets of London and it was one of the best experiences of my life. A highly emotional week for our country, those affected by the Manchester bombing were remembered in a minute silence as runners lined up in the Mall pre-race; with a reminder from Event Director Hugh Brasher that “above all, love overcomes hate.”
Every single participant had their own reason for running, their own experience of the race and their own story to tell, here’s mine.
- When the opportunity arose for me to run 10k for The Children’s Society I’ll admit I had my reservations. Of course I wanted to do it but I had serious doubts that I would ever be able to achieve it. I’ve tried running in the past but for one reason or another never really stuck with it. I’d never even got to the 5k mark never mind 10k so I knew it would be something I would really have to work for.
- I looked into what would be a realistic time period for a beginner to progress to 10k and discovered that it was definitely achievable if I stuck to a training plan. I downloaded the C210K app and without boring you with the details huffed and puffed my way through the next 14 weeks training.
- Signing up for an event and running for a charity means you are committed, failure is not an option and what better incentive than knowing you are running for a good cause? Had this not been the case I know for sure I would have given up.
- It’s very easy to get carried away when it comes to running gear – it’s everywhere now and so pretty. Unfortunately it’s also so spendy! I had a few bits and pieces hiding at the back of the drawer under the bed (with all the other stuff that never gets used) which I knew would be fine for now but footwear needed some serious consideration. I had a fantastic gait analysis at Sweatshop Milton Keynes and the staff advised me on the best running shoes for me within my budget.
- Obviously there are challenges along the way that can’t be ignored but they can be overcome. Strained muscles or blisters can be expected but shouldn’t be ignored. My initial fear was my knee (which I’ve previously had surgery on) letting me down. I researched ways of running that wouldn’t exacerbate the problem and ironically as I’ve progressed through the weeks my knee has greatly improved!
- As with any new training it’s normal to have reservations/expectations about how this might affect you, both physically and mentally. Now this is a funny one for me to sum up because although I haven’t lost any weight and my bingo wings and tummy pooch remain unchanged I do feel much happier with myself physically than I did before I started running. Four months is a relatively short time period to expect to see any notable physical changes from a few runs a week but perhaps underneath this soft exterior a slightly more toned version is emerging. Mentally, running allows you lots of time to think without distractions, whether you like it or not! All I can say is I’ve never returned from a run without feeling energised and positive.
- When race day finally arrived I was a bundle of nerves and excitement. Having never been to a running event even as a spectator I didn’t really know what to expect. However I’d done the training and once I’d dropped off my kit bag (and made that all important last minute trip to the portaloos), I knew all that was left to do now was enjoy it.
- As I lined up with all the other runners I could feel my heart pounding in my chest. Emotions were high and I wondered if I’d be able to make it round the course without crying the entire time.
- I needn’t have worried. As soon as I stepped over the starting line all of that disappeared and I felt pure happiness the entire run. Himself and the kids came along to support me so I have a few action shots and I don’t think there is one photo of me running where I don’t look like the Cheshire Cat!
- A mixture of adrenalin and excitement meant I didn’t even think about my legs aching or needing my inhaler (which I had with me in a running belt just in case). Despite the humid conditions it didn’t occur to me that I might be hot, or thirsty or…..anything. Just happy. I didn’t even need my emergency Haribo!
- If you read other people’s experiences of running events they will almost certainly mention the positive effect the crowd have on you and they are not wrong! Oh my goodness the crowd are so supportive the whole way around they deserve a medal at the end too. Whether it be having your family and friends there to support you, your chosen charity cheering you on, the fantastic live music or just strangers along the route shouting the name on your vest THE CROWD WILL CARRY YOU ALONG!
- Runners are grouped by ability so while some will be looking to break records or leave with a PB, others will be simply aiming to make it to the finish lined. Being in the latter group I decided I didn’t want to think about timings, just enjoy the experience and I’m really glad I did. I think it would have been very different if I’d been conscious of how fast/slow I was going and to be honest my group was so busy that it would only have stressed me out if I was trying to weave in and out of the crowds. The timing tag you are supplied with (to attach to your laces) will take readings when you pass the start, 5km and finish timing pads if you want to look up your details after the race.
- As the finish line grew nearer I almost didn’t want it to end. During training I’d thought a lot about crossing the finish line and imagined I would be a blubbing mess, full of emotion, a mixture of joy and relief. Weirdly it wasn’t at all how I’d expected. The cheering crowds finish a couple of hundred meters before the end and the road suddenly becomes very quiet and sparse of runners. As I stepped over the line I felt the last thing I ever imagined, I felt like a runner.
- Within seconds my timing chip had been snipped off and I’d been handed a goody bag containing my medal and finisher t shirt. Wow, these events are slick! I was really impressed with how well organised the day was and would highly recommend this route to anyone considering a 10k in the future.
- I walked around the assembly area (Green Park) in a bit of a daze before collecting my kit bag and heading to the changing room. After freshening up I met up with Himself and the kids and we actually spent a while walking around London! I mean, the whole point of the day was to visit the Lego store right? 🙂
- We headed home where the afternoon was very much business as usual: dinner, dishes, laundry and bed time for the scamps. My lovely friend had given me a goody bag beforehand with a bottle of fizz, soothing foot treatment and yummy treats so after a nice soak with some Epsom salts I thoroughly enjoyed that!
- Since I hadn’t really mentioned that I was doing the race to friends or family they were probably a bit surprised to see the photos I uploaded to Facebook yesterday but they have all been so brilliantly supportive and generous with donations to The Children’s Society.
- I can 100% understand how people can catch the running bug after such an event and I think I may have been bitten! Yesterday was an amazing experience and one I will never forget and I would like to thank The Children’s Society for allowing me to run as part of their team.
- Being able to run through London, past iconic landmarks such as Buckingham Palace, St Paul’s Cathedral and Westminster Abbey was an absolute treat and made this route such a pleasure to run. The question is, can anything ever beat that? I don’t know if it can but I guess there’s only one way to find out!
You can find out more about The Children’s Society and the fantastic work they do to help disadvantaged children here .
If you would like to donate to The Children’s Society by sponsoring me for the Vitality London 10,000 you can do so via the button below, any amount is greatly appreciated and makes a real difference.