My Cheltenham Half Marathon Journey:
Nine years ago I pulled out of competing in the great north run due to my first baby bump. Three children later I finally completed a half marathon, the Cheltenham half on 15th September in 2 hours 7 minutes!
I appreciate that, compared to some, my achievement is modest. However, I feel proud that I was able to juggle my hectic home life and kids, my demanding job with a commute and a hubby who travels with work, with finding the time to train and complete this event. I never take the easy path in life…9 years ago my training schedule was so much easier!
I got back in to running two years ago, after my other half kindly entered me into a 10k race. I have found it has been a good flexible form of regular exercise, since my life has become so busy, as pulling on some running shoes doesn’t take any preparation. However although I have been a Parkfit regular since that time, my running hasn’t been consistent and I definitely need a target to motivate me to do more than the weekly Parkfit sessions. When Kirsty mentioned it, a local target like the Cheltenham half certainly seemed more achievable than entering the great north run again, as I could avoid the complication of travel and hotel bookings.
With all the best intentions, I didn’t stick to my training schedule. I made up my mind to do the half six months prior to the event, however it wasn’t until four months prior that I did anything about digging out a formal plan (well, Kirsty emailed me one!), and it was a month later before I started mapping out my routes and logging how far I was jogging. I made use of map my run to create routes of the appropriate length, and to make my training easier kept adding to the same route when I needed to increase the mileage. Although I admit trekking the same path became dull. During the blistering heat of the 2013 summer, and at the six to eight mile point, I was in despair. I was bored, aching, and lacking in energy. However after a cry for help, Kirsty came up with some great advise. I adjusted my training schedule to fit around my life, started running with a friend, put more focus on my diet and most importantly changed my music! I won’t pretend I enjoyed training for this event, I am not a natural runner, however these changes did make it more bearable. I got upto 10 miles in my training, and was aiming to finish anywhere between 2:10 and 2:30.
I exceeded my target, and the day itself I loved! The event was extremely well organised. It was great to be running through Cheltenham, my home town, and have my super star family and friends supporting me along the route. It was also great to be running with people I knew (or didn’t know), to have a chat along the way, encourage each other, and to see some of the surreal outfits charity runners were wearing. The jelly babies along the Prestbury Road were fantastic too, local residents were brilliant supporters despite the rain and wind! I held a bit back for the last stretch, and it was exhilarating (and a relief) to sprint down to the finish line to collect my medal….. to onlookers I am sure it looked more like a slow motion run, but in my head I was sprinting!
Would I do it again? Definitely, although the plan is to keep the running up so that the last few weeks of training don’t become such a chore. Thanks to all of you supporters, fellow competitors, family, friends and Parkfit peeps for encouraging me on, and Kirsty for your advise, motivation and everlasting enthusiasm!
Jane Blackwell 🙂