Couch to 5K

Southend Half Marathon (tortoise version compared to Aftab!)

I am proud to say I completed the half marathon (perfectly described by Aftab) in the blazing sun (doesn't someone up there known I am ginger and don't do sun at the best of times, let alone running!); not a breath of breeze to cool us mad fools down, the sea as still as a mill pond (I had time to notice as I wasn't melting tarmac with the speed my trainers were plodding along!)

I arrived quite early on a train thronging with other East London runners, including a nice chap doing his 3rd hm who was happy to chat to a nervous first timer; then I wandered around to get my bearings, visited the toilet facilities several times (that's the trouble with drinking lots of water pre-race!) I made it to the start in time to find a space in the shade of the post race water tent, and that meant I could wander to the start at the back of the crowd. I had no expectations of doing a 'good' time based on my 5km average as it was just too hot, so finishing would be fine.

I set off just as my Garmin timed out; so was frantically re-setting it as I went over the line, it luckily found the satellite again really quickly. I didn't know anyone so was happy to just tick off the km as I went, and cheer & clap the spectators as I went.

I took advantage of the first loo I saw (surely psychological but felt better for it) ran on then took a few seconds breather stopping at a pedestrian crossing to let an old lady cross with her dog, which got me lots of laughs and cheers! I set off again and realised it was easier at the water stations to take the top off my water bottle and tip two cups of water in rather than try and drink, then I had plenty to splash over me too! I grabbed a sponge whenever offered and soaked my head and neck, which was lovely.

I was doing ok until 12.5km when my right calf tightened like it had previously on my log training run, I stopped and stretched a few times and was able to carry on but walked a minute, ran a few minutes, trying to keep a fairly steady pace of under 9 minute km's.

The second run along the sea front was still blisteringly hot, but I was pleased to pass a few people; went to refuse a sponge when I heard my name being shouted - an old neighbour who I had not seen for 15 years had recognised me; sweaty red face, sunglasses and all; so I stopped and soaked myself as we swapped 'what the kids are doing now (all adults/marriages babies etc) then plodded on.

Finally a bit of breeze was in my face after the final loop as I ran back towards the slight hill, carried on passing a few people, and thanked every volunteer and marshal I passed. One lady spectator of about my age cheered me on then said I couldn't do it' - that was a challenge so I went back and half shouted 'Couch to 5k; that's what got me here, look up couch to 5k!' She looked a bit bemused as I ran off!

After the hill I turned onto the long tree lined road, where I veered into the shady bits and took a grateful soaking from a chap with his garden hose; then I was running/walking with another lovely lady who had only been running 10 weeks after devising her own program to help with anxiety/depression issues, doing her first HM. We got to a marshal who said only 500m to go and my Garmin on 2.55, so we both said 'Lets run in'; around the next few corners, still no end, then another and a sign - 400m to go! What! I nearly died! We made it to the end, her family were just before the end and cheered like mad, then for me as she shouted cheer for Linda from Romford too! That was lovely! I got over the line, absolutely spent, bent down to get a kiss from my Grandson and could easily have fainted. I took a few deep breaths, got my water and medal and wandered off to find some shade, bought grandson an ice-cream & the man selling them thought I was his Mum! Really! Time he got down to specsavers I think! I lay down but felt awful, even after the obligatory banana. Staggered up to visit the loo and found it's really hard to stand again on jelly legs!

I felt better once we set off home and I had a bit of breeze in my face, and wasn't too upset to see my time of 3.03.22 considering my loo stop and neighbour chat, so imagine my joy yesterday of finding another column with my chip time

*****2.59.59**** Yay, under 3 hours !!!! not too bad for a 50 year old grandma with another 3 stone or so in flab to lose!


The only sad part of the day was finding out another runner had collapsed and died at the finish; a stark reminder that you just never know when your time is up; I hope that they publish his justgiving page or similar so I can show my respect by donating to the cause he was running for.

12 Replies

Fantastic and well done to you in that heat!!! I bet those sponges and water were a god send!! Not to mention a toilet break :). You must feel so proud and your family too! Congratulations!!!

So sad about the runner- how awful! If you do find his just giving page - copy the link and ask us all to donate a little something. I am sure our pennies will make pounds! Well done again- superb! x


Wow... A very big well done and in that heat too.. Not easy, and great to nail it under the 3 hours... So so sad about the runner that died.. Always so tragic... But a big well done and I hope the legs feel better :)


Brilliant, just soooo well done, especially in the heat.


That is brilliant! You should be feeling so proud. You have described your day so well. x


What a fantastic and inspiring post - I almost feel as if I had run it with you! Congratulations, I bet your family are so proud of you!


Yay for you, Poppy2010..

Makes me all the more determined to see this through.


Well done, a great achievement. I just love your description of the event and the way you took time to acknowledge and encourage others and still logged under 3 hours. I'm a mere beginner but found your post really encouraging. Thank you.


Thank you for sharing your wonderful story. well done


What a lovely post, and an immense achievement - thank you for sharing!


Brilliant! WELL DONE YOU!


What a lovely blog, it sounds like you had a fab time - well done, I am in awe! :-)


Well done on the sub 3 hours! Even though it was uncomfortably hot I enjoyed the day and felt it was organised well. I think I will do it again next year and hope that it isn't as hot.

Someone shared the Southend Parkrun's Facebook update on my timeline and they said that the runner who passed away was a regular parkrunner and part of a local running club. They also posted a link to a justgiving page that was set up in his memory for Great Ormond Street Hospital Children's Charity:


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