Countdown to 10 miles: Done!
This week is my last post charting my preparations to take part in the Stebbing 10 mile race on Remembrance Sunday. Each week I’ve been sharing my running journey, my training plans, my gear and my thoughts and feelings about running. Thank you for joining me on my countdown to 10 miles!
If this is the first week that you’re joining me in my running journey here’s what you’ve missed… in week one I ran shared my first 8.5 mile run, in week two I ran 9 miles (without really meaning too!) and shared and favourite running kit. In week three I did a mini review of the Garmin Forerunner 10 running watch and in week four I told you about my fav playlist for helping to make the miles more manageable. Last week, I talked about food as fuel and staying hydrated.
This week…. I DID IT!
The culmination of five weeks of proper training (and preparation before that for my first 10k race) and I’ve finally run my first 10 mile race. I was chatting with Mirka from Fitness for Mamas the other day about the race and she asked me if I felt nervous. And you know what, I didn’t. I felt strangely calm. Sure, there was nervous excitement bubbling away under the surface and the adrenaline that always comes with an important occasion but I knew I could do it and that gave me the confidence to not be too scared about my longest ever race.
Running item of the week – race day preparations and running with a chip
As I mentioned in last week’s post food is fuel for me so as always I tucked in to a bowl of porridge in the morning to give me the slow-release energy I knew I was going to need. I didn’t want to change anything from my training runs so my running shoes and favourite kit were all ready for me. I had my water bottle filled up, my Garmin charged and my Gymboss Timer (for telling me when to run and when to walk) ready just in case my Garmin battery didn’t make it the whole way (it did). The only thing that was different from my training runs was that I didn’t need my iPod. As I mentioned in week four I couldn’t run the race with headphones on for safety. That was the one thing that concerned me. How would I keep going without my tunes?
This race was going to be using a chip to record our times rather than just race numbers and the keen eyes of lots of volunteers. I’d never run with a chip before but when I picked it up from the organisers, Grange Farm and Dunmow Running Club, there were full instructions and the Chairman, Lee, was on hand to help me figure out how to attach the plastic card to my laces with cable ties so that it was nice and secure. I didn’t notice it at all throughout the race and just had to make sure I stepped on the blue timing mat at the start and finish lines so that my time could be measured. Easy peasy.
This week’s run
The Stebbing 10 is a popular annual race which coincides with Remembrance Day and there were almost 500 people running *gulp* which made for a busy registration period. I arrived early and was in and out pretty quickly (after a quick chat with the wonderful runner who inspired me to start this crazy journey in the first place; my gorgeous sister-in-law) and went back to my car to keep warm and pass the time before the start.
At 10.45 we all made our way down to the Stebbing Memorial for a brief service and 2 minutes silence. I’d just found out that day that my second cousin Fred, who was in the Royal Air Force, had been shot down in the Second World War, so I dedicated my run and my silence to him. It was a poignant and very special moment to join together with so many other runners remembering friends and family who gave their lives in service to their country.
Then, at 11.05am, we all set off. That’s me right there at the back (what do you mean you can’t see me?)
There were lots of very serious looking runners at the front of the pack and knowing that this was a club race I stayed well clear and positioned myself as far back as I could. I also knew that run/walking would put me in other people’s way and after my 10k run in the Summer where people kept encouraging me not to stop I decided to wear a sign, just to clear up any confusion…
I’m actually really glad I did as it was a great conversation starter! More about that in a moment after a quick snap of me running in bright pink along Stebbing High Street…
As I suspected the first couple of miles flew by in a haze of adrenaline and I took the conscious decision not to do my first walking section so that I could get some warmth into my legs on what had turned out to be a chilly morning. At mile 3 the pack was well separated and I settled into my run/walk routine, running for 6 minutes and walking for 1 minute.
I felt good. I felt confident. I knew my training had paid off. It also helped that we were running through the beautiful Essex countryside.
Not long after this I spotted a club runner ahead of me who was walking and holding her side and I knew immediately that she had a stitch. She didn’t have any water so when I reached her I slowed down and offered her a swig from my bottle. She took it gratefully and we started running again together. I explained I was run/walking and asked if she wanted to join me. We spent the next 4 miles together chatting away and I didn’t miss my iPod once. Who knew running with others could be so much fun?!
The miles melted away as we talked about running and the chit-chat kept us going along the country roads and tracks. It really is a LOVELY course and we hardly saw any cars as we jogged along. There were three or four other runners with and around us and the camaraderie was wonderful. If I wasn’t puffing so much I would have been beaming from ear to ear.
At seven miles my new running partner was struggling a bit and I knew that my legs had a bit more to give so I wished her luck and lengthened my stride. I felt guilty as I left her behind me.
…and ran straight into a long, slow, hill with a side wind. Eeek!
But the similar long, slow, hill that I’ve run every week in my training had prepared my legs and I pushed onwards, dropping my arms to pull myself upwards.
The last few miles were difficult. At mile 8 my knees and quads were very sore and when I lifted my knees in each walking section the pain was bad. But each walk also gave me the rest and boost I needed to keep going. At mile 9 I could see the spire of Stebbing church and I knew I was almost home. I ran back along Stebbing High Street as quickly as I could, but my legs were turning to jelly at this point and wouldn’t do what I wanted them to.
The cheers from the waiting crowd, who’d all finished a long time before, willed me across the line at a sprint. I’d run my first 10 mile race in 1 hour, 45 mins and 10 seconds. I was so excited to finish that I forgot to press stop on my Garmin for another 40 seconds!
Could I have done a faster time if I hadn’t run with my new-found friend? Probably. I definitely slowed my pace a bit on occasion so she could catch up. But running together, sharing our joy of being outside, taking part in our first 10 mile race side by side, if only for a few miles, was more important than getting a quicker time.
And yet again, after writing this post last week which seems to have resonated with some many people, I slowed down to experience something special and beautiful.
Post run elation!
My inspirations: my sister-in-law the uber runner and the chairman of the Grange Farm and Dunmow Running Club who challenged me to do the race.
NEXT YEAR: PREPARING FOR MY FIRST HALF MARATHON!
Linking up with #FitnessTuesday at Fitness4Mamas