As the year draws to a close and now going into winter training I look back at 2017 and what have I learned.
It all started off with the challenge to run a sub 2hr half marathon. Previously I’d only every one and that was a massive challenge for me. So, for 2017 I
thought where best to attempt another and a sub 2 than in my home town - Newport. Me and my running buddy Eddie started training – ferociously! After a hard winter and feeling good on the day, I really thought I’d cross that line in 1.59. But, I did not have a great race and finished in 2.03.
Oh well it was only the first one of the year right?! I quickly turned my thoughts to doing another... but which one? Swansea, you lovely city with your nice, flat roads…what could possibly go wrong?
7 miles into the race and I injured my foot, wobbled to the finish line to get my t-shirts. I almost thought about giving up on the sub2hr challenge, but I couldn’t resist when a few others decide to go for it at Cardiff.
Race day came and we were all excited as we hopped on the bus down to Cardiff. I didn’t even consider having breakfast beforehand, only a chocolate drink (one of my 5 a day obviously!) – I think I was too excited! The weather turned out better than it promised and I was feeling optimistic. I got onto the start line and by mile 4 I was in my stride. I kept up with Paul who was pacing me, I took all my gels and water at the stations. Mile 10 I picked up a Lucozade, but decided not to drink it – too my detriment possibly. By mile 12 I was struggling, but with only a mile left I ploughed on. I saw the finish line, but the next thing I remember was laying on the floor.
It turns out I had collapsed, in what is known as “bonked”. My body had run out of fuel and gave in. I was helped to the finish line – I didn’t even cross it, by Paul and a nice guy called Mike who I didn’t know. My club were amazing, and an hour and half later I was on the bus home. Did I get sub 2hrs...hell no!
So what did I learn from all these experiences;
- Nutrition is very important when you are running! Always eat breakfast before a race or long run, AND not just any breakfast, the right kind of breakfast that is wholesome and nutritious. It turns out the chocolate drink I had was a protein drink, which is no good before racing.
- How supportive the running community is. Not only did my club mates sacrifice their day out to look after me, but a stranger actually sacrificed their race to help me over the finish line. Mike Brain is one of the run directors at Maesteg parkrun and I met him afterwards and ran the wonderful parkrun up there.
- Make sure you have a running buddy! They are your wingman, and will help you when you’re struggling, and vice versa. Especially through winter training when the going gets tough and get out that door for the long run and you know if you do not you will be letting them down.
- Join a social running group or a running club if you can. Groups and clubs will support you and keep you motivated. You’ll improve and as a result you’ll feel fitter, healthier and stronger. Without my club mates I’m not sure how I would have coped after collapsing, and the love I have continued to feel afterwards has been immense– plus they’ll never allow me to forget to eat my porridge!)
Three weeks later I was ready, mentally and physically (plus my tum was full ) to take on Stroud. This time around I didn’t put any pressure on myself, I was determined to enjoy and get round, and as my hubby was there to watch and we were all having a pub lunch after I needed to finish without the drama! But did I get a sub 2? ALMOST!
I finished in 2hrs 50secs and it was the most enjoyable race I did in 2017. So the best lesson for me has been, have goals but don’t forget what it’s about in the end... it’s not the time, it’s the enjoyment of running… because without that, what is the point?
As the year draws to a close what will 2018 bring...another home run challenge this time the Newport marathon. Why oh why?!