The 'Summer of Running' is now underway having today completed race number two in preparation for the Great North Run. This morning was the turn of Vitality's: British 10km Run that boasts an array of Central London landmarks on it's route including Piccadilly, Houses of Parliament and Downing Street.
I have been incredibly busy with work lately that has left me feeling exhausted and a little low. This played a huge part in feeling lethargic this morning. Taking this in my stride, I made my way to the start line finding myself in the first wave of runners ready to be unleashed on the circuit. The first 5 kilometres were difficult with my limbs feeling like lead, I felt like the tin man in 'Wizard of Oz'! After 2km, I picked up the beginning of a stitch that thankfully didn't materialise into anything too substantial; although, trying to manage it so it didn't take hold was exhausting work especially during the surprisingly undulating route. It was hard to believe I didn't give in and start walking.
It wasn't until I hit the 5 kilometre marker that I found my rhythm. It was accompanied by a short but brisk breeze that made the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end. I felt a tingling through my body as endorphins started flooding my system. By this point the route was lined with spectators supporting us by clapping, cheering, and making noise in whatever way they could. It created a beat that, up until this point, I was missing. It is usually provided by my iPod blaring away distracting my mind from the perils of road running. However, headphones were banned from this event so in the absence of my usual friend the spectators took over. It is hard to explain the motivation and rhythm that these cheering spectators can give you when you are struggling physically. For the next few kilometres I felt like they were sweeping me through the streets of London beckoning me to eventually pass the finish line, something that felt almost impossible a few kilometres before. I was riding high until about 7.5km when the course ran parallel to the finish line taking us past the end point and away from it in the opposing direction. This was mental torture, you would think that by seeing the finish line it would motivate me even more but quite the opposite was happening; it felt like every step from now on was taking me physically further away from it. I was essentially running away from the finish line. Every bone in my body was rebelling and questioning why this was happening. We were so close that, on passing, I could see some of the tired faces of those who had completed the course, relieved and happily yelling encouragement to those who were passing by: "Not much longer", "You are doing so well", "Not far now". And, it wasn't just me that hit a lull at this point, I could hear others commenting that running past the finish line was torturous!
Not long after my first encounter with the finish line, the course turned a corner leaving the final straight well behind me and hitting the 8km mark. Only two kilometres stood between me and the end. Seeing that sign motivated me no end and, from nowhere, the fire in my belly ignited, endorphins radiated throughout my body and my stride got longer, knees higher and my speed increased. From this point on I literally covered the last two kilometres in no time at all, running down Whitehall with my head held high and a smile on my face. Not long later I flung myself head first through the finish line completing the first 10km circuit of my challenge thus far. What greeted me was an orchestra of cheers, clicks from the official finish line photographer and a lady cradling a tray of water bottles. I had done it, I had finished, I was elated and happy to be there in 01:02:15. Not the fastest but completed none-the-less.
The whole circuit was a mental rollercoaster that was made even more so by the inability to lose myself in music. It was hard but not impossible and I have come away looking forward to my next event in 7 days time. All the while remembering that these shorter circuits are in preparation for the big half marathon that is waiting to greet me in Newcastle in September. I still have a lot of work to do in order to build up to that mammoth 13.1 miles but I do have time between now and then to get there.
Let's not forget, the running is only half the challenge with the other half celebrating the charity sector and the fantastic work that they do for so many millions in this country and around the world. As stated before, I would like to raise £1000 for charity and I am leaving it in your hands as to which charity will receive your money. All you have to do is donate to a charity of YOUR choice and let me know WHO received it and HOW MUCH was donated and I will add it to the total. This is a way to support as many different charities as possible as there are so many out there doing fantastic work. The power is in YOUR hands. Donate to something that you feel strongly about or maybe something that affects you or a loved one. Let this be an opportunity to help them out whilst motivating me to continue pounding those streets in order to prepare to take on challenges that are usually way out of my league. All I ask is when you do donate just drop me an email stating the details so that I can add it to my list in order to hit my £1000 target to support the charity sector.
Thank you in advance for any donation that you give. And, thank you for all the encouragement that you have given me in the past and during my current and next run on the calendar, it really is appreciated.
1. The Royal Mail Greenwich Park Run: 5km (May 24th) (Completed: 28 minutes)
2. The Vitality British London Run: 10km (July 12th) (Completed: 01:02:15)
3. The Morrisons Great Newham Run: 10km (July 19th)
4. The Morrisons Great North Run: 13.1 miles (September 13th)