In a moment of madness earlier in the year I signed up for the Great Birmingham Run… all 13 miles of it. As a cheese eating, chain smoking carb lover with a large bottom it wasn’t the most sensible decision I’d ever made, particularly when I followed my sign up and payment with two months of procrastination!
Over the summer, I started training regularly, building up my fitness levels, stamina and distance with several of my friends, and I started to feel a lot more confident about it. I purchased some decent running gear, changed my eating habits a little and lost weight. It was looking good!
Then, in September, I went to Barcelona, and managed to burn my feet so badly that they swelled up to double their size, taking a fortnight to go down, which was a bit of a setback. I started running again once they had gone down, but then was hit with a bad dose of the flu and a nasty cold, which knocked me out for the two weeks leading up to the race.
However, yesterday was the big day, and I was determined to do it even if it meant walking! My mum came down to stay so she could watch me run, and she and The Bloke planned to go to various parts of the track to cheer me on. It was perfect weather, being quite cold, and when I arrived the atmosphere was electric, with thousands of runners from all over the country warming up and getting ready.
As we set off, I felt good. In fact, for the first seven or eight miles I felt reasonable – I went at a steady pace, controlled my breathing and made sure I wasn’t putting too much pressure on my knees. I saw The Bloke and Mum at the 3 mile and 8 mile mark, and saw several of my colleagues and students cheering us on along the way and it spurred me on to carry on. However, by mile 9 I was beginning to hurt. Nothing bad, just a mild ache in my thighs, so I slowed down and kept going. By mile 10, however, it was getting worse, and I hit the wall that I’d heard so many runners talking about. By mile 11, the only thing I could do was walk – we hit the mother of all hills and there was no way I’d be able to make it up there by running without passing out. In fact, I walked mile 11 and mile 12 and it was agony – I felt every single step and it seemed to go on forever. By this point, all of those around me did the same thing – we took advantage of the Jelly Babies that were being handed out to keep up our blood sugar levels, made conversation and cheered each other on, and it lifted my spirits.
And then we saw the finish line at the bottom of Broad Street, and we started to run. I could see The Bloke and Mum waiting and cheering, and as I crossed the finish line I felt an enormous sense of relief. By this point, I couldn’t feel my feet or legs, I was shaking and desperate to get my medal and go home. I got a huge hug from both of them, and they were very patient as I hobbled my way to get a taxi.
I managed to do it in under three-and-a-half hours, exactly the time I had been going for, which I was really pleased about. However, despite stretching down and following all the recommended steps afterwards, by yesterday evening I had completely seized up from the waist down. I didn’t know that I was capable of hurting so much!
Still, I bloody did it, and I’m proud of myself! Will I do it again? Never. However, I may just sign myself up for a 10k next year… Possibly.
There’s still time for you to add the the huge amount of generous sponsorship that has already been donated to the Just Giving page I have set up, with all proceeds going to Dementia UK, in memory of my grandfather…
Thanks to all of you who gave so much support over the last few months, and to everyone who joined in my live tweeting yesterday during the race!