This week my virtual runners are Grannie B, Anonymous (30/11/16), Joe Edge and Emma. Thank you for your support for our running challenges and joining me on this tough but exciting running week!
Location: Nunnykirk, Northumberland (Nope I hadn’t heard of it either!)
Distance: 6.2 miles
Run notes: I raced home to meet Paul straight after work. I quickly got into my running gear and we made our way to Nunnykirk, a school for dyslexic children, the host venue for this evening’s run. Thank goodness for Google Maps as we had no idea where our destination was. Paul drove as I navigated, then as we got close to the school my phone helpfully died (it was starting to randomly do this a lot) but luckily Paul had done some prep on the computer so got us to the car park in a field about a mile away.
There was a small number of cars there when we arrived. I had wanted to set off early so we didn’t get stuck in any traffic and miss the start (this happened for one of my Murder Mysteries a year ago and never wanted to repeat an experience of stress like it!)
The walk down the School’s driveway from the car park was very long. Paul was happily saying at least it was a down hill walk, but I knew this would probably the route I would be taking on the run but in the opposite direction which meant it would be an uphill start.
Once we got to the School, I registered and put my run number on my vest. You can only pick up your number at the event for all Run Nation runs which usually means I undertake my pinning number, removing number, straightening number, re-pinning number in sight of everyone. The School was a beautiful, large country hall and being there early has it’s advantages, it meant I got to visit the poshest pre-run toilet with very little queue!
Once more people appeared I persuaded Paul to walk with to see the start line (as he wasn’t running he was going to hang around the finish line to cheer me in). So we walked through a wood, and kept walking passed the mud and up the hill. Oops it was a lot further to the start than I had thought, and there was no real opportunity for Paul to go back to the concrete courtyard as it was only 5 minutes to the start.
After seeing lots of proper runners, warming up and running up and down the hill, I did my own warm up (no dancing as there was no music) and made my way into the throng of runners. This is the first time ever that I started a run relatively near the front of the group. I like the relaxed nature of being further back but it was going to be very hard to get passed people.
After telling a fellow female runner how nervous I was to be near the front, the start was announced and we were off.
Down the trail like route that Paul and I had just climbed up and quickly up the drive way watching out for the speed bumps.
Now Run Nation runs are always in the most beautiful places, and the scenery is something to enjoy but oh they can be so hilly! Now this course wasn’t quite the hills of the Vindolanda Run, but there were some big hills.
The runners were soon strung out. I kept my pace steady, keeping an eye on my heart rate to ensure I wasn’t over doing things. At one point I started to run alongside another female runner, and we both saw the hill ahead. Dear me! You know, when you suddenly something is looming and you know there is nothing you can do about it, but just meet it head on? That was this hill. And the next hill. And the next. It was interesting because there didn’t seem to be many downs.
The female runner and I swapped positions several times, I would climb steadily in front on the hills, lose them on any down hill sections then reclaim on the flats or the next hill. I can honestly tell you that this made things very interesting. The company of Grannie B, Anonymous (30/11/16), Joe Edge and Emma was the thing that kept me going, knowing that I couldn’t let you down motivated me so much, because the incessant hills were tough.
Finally I got to a long flat, the views for miles seemed to suggest I was on top of the worl, or at least the surrounding farm land. Suddenly the road dip down, and I was heading down hill. But as I had discovered in this race not as fast as others and particularly not that runner who appeared from no-where and went passed like a bolt of lightening.
I didn’t know what the rest of the course was like, I was completely disorientated and because we going down hill so dramatically I decided that we might be heading back up another hill at some point. So I didn’t run like a mad woman. I ran fast because you couldn’t not on a hill like this, but not crazy fast. I wanted something left in the tank just in case. I watched the runner head of into the distance, hoped my virtual running team wouldn’t mind and became OK with it myself.
I turned a corner at my own pace, and ran past a small caravan park into the woods again. The woods. I checked my watch there was little distance left to run and I was starting to recognise this. So I did something I never normally do when I don’t know where the end is. I pushed it. Slowly but surely as I ran quickly but cautiously on the trail paths (in the ever dimming light) I started to reel in the runners who had over taken me and finally that runner. I had nothing left but I was now on the downward hill that we first ran down after the start. I was not far from the finish. I could hear people on my heels so I dug as deep as I could and kept going.
I could see Paul and the finish line. I crossed it with a sense of such achievement. I felt like a proper runner.
And when Paul asked: how was the run? I immediately replied: horrible. He laughed and said all of the finishing runners had been saying that! He then told me thought I was a top 8 female runner. Me?! Top anything?!
In shock, we went to find the lady I had battling with, to thank her for such a good run. When we were chatting she said that I was too strong on the hills and the flats. Me too strong?! I had never believed I could be classed in proper running terms!
As Paul and I queued for the runners medal and best of all pie, peas and a bottle of real ale (Paul had the latter two goodies) I checked Strava to find I had set a course record for one of the hill segments, as well as personal records (including smashing my recently set fastest 1 mile!) and I wondered if Clara would class me as a proper runner now.
I can tell you I have never been more anxious waiting for official run results to be released. The next day at work I was checking every half an hour. Imagine my suprise when I found out I was 6th Female overall and 1st for Senior Lady.
That’s right I had come 1st in my category. To say I was elated would be an under statement.
Average pace: 8:06/mile
– Mile 1 – 8:13
– Mile 2 – 8:47
– Mile 3 – 8:26
– Mile 4 – 8:31
– Mile 5 – 7:20
– Mile 6 – 7:32
– 0.2 Mile – 6:58
Achievements: Course record on Ritton Bank Hill Climb, Best 2 mile effort, Best 1 mile effort.
Location: Gosforth, Newcastle Upon Tyne
Distance: 13.1 miles
Run Notes: I had been nervous for some time about the Yorkshire Marathon and my recent inability to follow the marathon training plan, and even more nervous about the fast approaching Great North Run. Friends, family and colleagues have been brilliant and are taking part in my sweepstake for the run, as I have repeatedly said I have never been bothered about times in any running but obviously that is the main focus of the sweepstake and I feel I have not been able to do my virtual runners or sweepstake participants justice. So I decided with three weeks to go, I would run the half marathon distance and see how I got on/calm my nerves.
I had taken a day off work before we headed up to the caravan for the weekend and thought I could squeeze in a run, so planned a two lap route from Mum and Dad’s (I love some of the countryish routes near there’s). Having set up my usual water station I headed off. It was a great run, really good psychologically for me. Knowing that I was relatively comfortable whilst keeping a steady pace. When I finished I had achieved exactly what I wanted to, I had reached 800km mile stone of running! Wahooo! I also had stopped pressurising myself and had a bit more confidence in myself and my ability to run a good distance.
If you are feeling nervous and you have the time I would recommend going for a run with no real expectations, it can really help your state of mind, which as most runners say is the big battle when running.
Average pace: 8:50/mile
– Mile 1 – 9:05
– Mile 2 – 9:13
– Mile 3 – 9:07
– Mile 4 – 8:55
– Mile 5 – 8:42
– Mile 6 – 9:05
– Mile 7 – 9:04
– Mile 8 – 8:54
– Mile 9 – 8:52
– Mile 10 – 8:28
– Mile 11 – 8:24
– Mile 12 – 8:30
– Mile 13 – 8:31
– 0.2 Mile – 8:31
Achievements: Best Half marathon effort, Best 20k effort, Best 10 mile effort, Best 15k effort
Thank you Grannie B, Anonymous (30/11/16), Joe Edge and Emma for joining me on this really exciting week, potentially becoming a proper runner and more importantly we hit the 800km mark! And what achievements we had doing it! Thank you for supporting the MS Trust and all of the great work they do.