The day had FINALLY arrived. Two years of trying to run this race and this time, I wasn’t going to let anything stop me!
I woke up quite early to the birds singing and the sun shining. The weather looked great for the whole day, as well as the temperature. I was excited and feeling very ready to go. My friend, Lauren, and I munched our bowls of porridge, banana and peanut butter before getting dressed and heading out. We planned to catch the free bus from outside the station, and I have to say, it worked so well. They did a fantastic job of having plenty of buses, making the who process really easy and quick.
We arrived just after 8.30, into the race village and made our way to the bag drop. Again, everything was very well sign posted, laid out and easy to find. Once we dropped our bag, we found Miriam, my friend I was due to run the race with, and huddled in the tent to keep warm. By now we had all hoped that the wind would have gone, but it was definitely a lot better than the weekend before, and for that we were thankful for! Around 9am we paid a visit to the toilet before heading to the start line. I didn’t realize the starting pens were quite a walk from the race village, so to anyone planning to run this race in the near future, allow plenty of time to queue for the toilets (which had doubled back!) and get to the pen on time! A few people ended up running to get to theirs before the gun!
Feeling cold and very ready to get started, we were hustled to the start line, the gun sounded and we were off. Our plan was to start off slow, pacing ourselves for the first 3 miles before the hill. The crowds were pretty great, throughout the whole course, and definitely played a huge part in the race! Unfortunately around the 3 mile mark, I lost Miriam. Our plan was to race together, but this didn’t quite work out. So I set off on my own but told her I’d be waiting to cheer her in at the finish.
As I pushed myself up the short and sharp hill, I continued to feel good and knew I had more in me than I thought! Winding through the grounds of Reading University, my pace was faster than what I expected it to be but I tried to not look at my watch, so I focused on the atmosphere and just ran. At mile 8 I saw my best friend, Becky, and her boyfriend Tom, to which I ran over and hugged hard. I teared up slightly as she pushed me on. Little did I expect to see them again at mile 10! I was in complete shock but it gave me the boost I needed to get through the last 3 miles along the A33.
This part of the race had now turned into a mental game. I decided to go through the alphabet naming animals, and then countries. As I reached mile 11, I’d lost interest and decided to focus on people in front of me and seeing my mum at the end. At the last half a mile, I dragged a young man, who had started walking, along with me. I told him he had to keep running, to chase me to the finish line, and that’s what he did! Heading round past the medal area and down into the stadium, I gave everything I had and strongly crossed the finish line with a PB. Grinning from ear to ear, I made my way out of the stadium, and launched myself into my mums arms for a much needed hug! She gave me my medal (she was volunteering) and shuffled me on to go warm up! I couldn’t leave the finish area until I’d seen Miriam come in and when she came round the corner I shouted and screamed her on! We met up in the race village, I gave her a massive hug and congratulated her. I was proud of her for pushing herself around the course alone. It wasn’t what we had planned but I hope that it proved to herself that she has the physical and mental strength in her, regardless of her doubts. I’m beyond proud of her and can’t wait to join her in a few more runs and races!
Back to the shuttle bus, Lauren and I then made our way to meet Becky and Tom for lunch and a much needed catch up!
I really enjoyed this race, and after two years of waiting to run it, I have to say it was truly worth it! They did a wonderful job at organizing, the crowds and the support from local communities, bands and the choir dotted around the course, was incredible.
So, what’s next. Well, some time off training, to be honest! I have a few 5 and 10k races that I’ve signed up for, as well as Pretty Muddy (Race for Life) and the London Revolution Ultra, in May.
I will, also, be volunteering at the London Marathon this year, at the Finish Baggage area. So if you spot me, do say hello and I shall be waiting with open arms for congratulation hugs!!!!
Again, a massive well done to everyone who ran last weekend, getting a PB or not, you should all be so proud!