After my first organised 10k race in February, I thought I had hung up my 'racing shoes' as I couldn't imagine doing it again. Then again, when I ran outside for the first time on 3 January this year, I never thought I would be able to run 5k, nevermind 10k. So I'm standing with loads of runners/joggers on Portland Street in Manchester thinking, "Really?! You're actually going to do this?!"
About 6 weeks ago, I talked my colleague into doing the Great Manchester Run. I know it running has helped me focus at times of stress or anxiety. This might help alleviate some of her anxiety. She laughed and said, "Are you joking? I've not ran in ages! Only if you do it with me." Before I knew it, I had agreed. Looking back, my wonderfully encouraging and supportive housemate had unknowingly kicked off not only my running, but to not only me, but now two others because they had been inspired by seeing the completely unsporty me running a 10k race after 6 weeks of training.
For anyone thinking of doing their first race, the Great Manchester Run is incredibly well organised and the atmosphere was buzzing - particularly at the beginning. The weather was hit and miss. It started off really hot before it became overcast and decided to fully chuck it down. As dorky as I looked, I decided to wear a white cap which I do not regret. My black hair didn't get boiling hot from the sun, and it covered my glasses when it rained and through the shower/mist areas. If you are running a race this summer, I hugely recommend wearing a cap. I was so surprised to see many runners pass out halfway and so close to the finishing line. Lots of people threw up at the finishing line. Pace yourself and remember your health, not your PB, is more important!
The last 3k was a huge mental challenge, and stopping several times for my colleague and my phone (my running app and music stopped) hindered my pace. I can't even remember how I got to the end as the final stretch was a blur but I was so glad when I crossed the line. My music really helped so a putting together a playlist and training with it might be useful for some of you - I ended up removing some songs that didn't motivate me when I felt really tired on my training runs even though I love listening to them usually.
I usually suffer from stitches even from a sip of water before a run, but as my wave didn't start until 12pm, I ate a bagel with peanut butter and jelly and sipped on a glass of water beforehand. I didn't feel 'stitchy' until around 8k but I managed to keep it from getting worse by focusing on my breathing.
My favourite bit was going back to the part of the run where I found it hardest, and cheered on the rest of the runners. There were huge crowds of supporters at the start and end, but hardly any on most of the route so I shouted my loudest for those who looked like me struggling towards the end. It was amazing to see so many people taking part. My first 10k race was like a mini school sports day in comparison and far less spectators.
For anyone who has just started running, training for a 5k or 10k, or just reading these posts - I can't emphasise enough how I am not built like a runner nor am I described as 'sporty' or 'athletic' by my friends (in fact, they would laugh heartily at this). I ran for the first time outside in January after eating a massive roast dinner (bad idea for doing this soon after eating) and my housemate asked if I wanted to join her. She has been an amazing support and I used the Nike running app to train. I confess that I did not use couch to 5k after a couple of weeks because the music did not suit me, but I built on my running slowly and stretched lots, and took a 2 week break after suffering from a chest infection. Start slow and I also found I felt stronger if I ate properly and also cross trained. Running alone did not make my body feel stronger but for the second run, I worked on my core muscles, and did total body workouts too. I ended up completing this run in 58 minutes which I am really chuffed with and I can't believe that I have completed two races this year.
You can do it!!
A huge thank you to my housemate for inspiring me to run, and in turn I have become a healthier person