It's been just over a year since I joined Blackburn Road Runners. It's a decision that took me a long time to make but during the past twelve months I've come to realise that there's a time and a place for everything. After my first race wearing a BRR vest (the Windmill 10k in Lytham) I decided to take a year for myself, attempt some challenges, say "YES" more than saying "no" and see if I could push myself beyond what I thought were my boundaries.
- Challenge 1 : Lose weight
- Challenge 2 : Run 1000 km in a year
- Challenge 3 : Run a long distance race
- Challenge 4 : Break 1h 10m in a 10k race
|Photo Credit : Gemma McAuley Photography|
The losing weight bit was separate to the running but was always going to compliment it. I joined Slimming World and have lost almost 2.5 stone over the course of the year. It's not as much as I hoped but its been steady progress. I could have stayed right on plan and possibly lost more weight but I like wine and gin and holidays...
Run 1000km In A Year
1000 kilometres, broken down into weekly chunks becomes just over 19km (or 12 miles) per week. That sounds manageable, right? I began the year with a plan to run a 10 mile race in March and started training with my original running gang from the C25K days who were seasoned pros, having run plenty of 10ks, half marathons and full marathons between them. The mileage needed for training was just over 12 miles per week, and on the increase, so this challenge felt completely possible.
Over the year, I've been fairly on track and apart from a couple of weeks out for holidays and a week off due to a recurring knee injury, I'm absolutely on track to complete this. If I'm being totally honest, I'd forgotten about this because Claire made me change my Garmin/Strava into miles and it was only recently that I noticed the annual total clocking up. My current distance is 581.4 miles and I need to get to 621.5 in the final weeks of the year. Forty miles in four weeks... BRING IT ON!
|Photo Credit : Lancashire Telegraph|
Run A Long Distance Race
I'd been training for a 10 mile race in March. Slowly but surely my mileage was increasing. I had no faith in myself, was plodding and 'jeffing' each training run but the date was looming and, weirdy, I was looking forward to it. But fate took over, there was a huge snowfall the night before the race and we never made it to the start line. Out of sheer determination I signed up for the most local long distance race - the Darwen Half Marathon - and completed challenge number three.
It wasn't pretty and it took three hours. I knew I was better than that so signed up for another - very very flat - half marathon for three months down the line and carried on with the Friday long runs. Again, I enjoyed the training but fate struck again and my second half marathon was on one of the hottest days of the year. Again, it took almost three hours but I ran it on my own and I wanted to do better but there was plenty of time to revisit this distance.
I already have my sights on the Freckleton Half Marathon for 2019 and my aim is to complete it in 2h 30m.
Breaking 1h 10m in a 10k race
It's no secret that I'm a slow runner but, for me, the holy grail of running was to run faster than 1h 10m in a 10k, however it felt impossible. At the beginning of the year, my fastest ever 10k was around 1h 12m but I ran the East Lancs Hospice 10k in 1h 21m. The first time I felt that my goal was attainable was at the Wesham Summer 10k in May. My official time was 1h 11m so I concentrated on finding a steady-ish pace during my long runs, mixing it up with some summer trail running (such fun!) and pushing it at parkrun. Over the year, the longer runs made the shorter runs feel easier (naturally) and as I've lost weight, another few seconds have been chipped off regular routes here and there. My parkrun time has come down to 32 minutes and I came third in our club handicap race (5k) with a time of 31m 52s.
But the ultimate goal was this elusive 1h 10m and I was determined to achieve it at the Windmill 10k - one year after my first race as a Blackburn Road Runner. I had completed a 5 mile race a few weeks before in a shade under 56 minutes and I had enjoyed every step of the way. I even finished thinking I could have pushed a little bit more. I was averaging 11-minute to 11.30-minute miles so I had to believe that my sub-1h 10m was going to happen, as long as I stayed positive.
And it happened! On a totally flat route, and in perfect running conditions (after horrendously cold rain earlier in the morning) I ran in line with my 5-mile pace and finished the 2018 Windmill 10k in 1h 7m 58s - a full 15 minutes faster than the year before and completely shocking myself! Achievement Unlocked!
So the last race of the year was the Wesham 10k. It's not quite as flat as the Lytham route but it's a race that I enjoy. I wasn't going for a specific time but I did want to run maybe a little bit faster than our usual training speed and test myself for consistency. Conditions were perfect again, I was feeling confident and I've been training myself not to look at my watch to check pace or distance. I started with Pat and Chez (I ran with them at the Winter Warmer earlier this year) for the first three or four kilometres and then caught up with them again around 7k. I hit the last 500 meters and decided to give it everything I had left. I built up my "sprint" finish carefully, managed to overtake five people on the run up to the finish line and ended with an official time of 1h 4m 55s!! Another Personal Best!!
What a way to end the year! I'm so grateful too every single person who has run with me this year, offered advice, put up with my moaning, believed in me and given me the confidence to keep going!
I've finished 'racing' in 2018 now. I'm planning on doing our local Santa Dash with the grandchildren in a couple of weeks and there's a couple of parkruns I'd like to do but nothing major. And my next goal? A sub-30 minute 5k or parkrun. I have no idea when it will happen but I can't wait to find out!