Here's what Frances told us....a 'Runners Thoughts'!
It’s Sheffield, the warmest day of the year so far and I’ve just completed my first half marathon in my target time of 2hrs and 20 mins. Not exceptionally fast, but a very pleasing effort given the unexpected warm weather and the 6 or 7 miles where the course just kept on going uphill! Naturally I’m on the wonderful high you get from achieving something you knew was going to be tough… Just as I’m struggling through to the medal engraving tent I hear my name and spot my friend Bec, who’s turned out to support the runners. Well done she says, you don’t look like you’ve just run a half marathon! By the way, we’re actually sponsoring the Grimsby 10k this year, oh, and the North Lincs Half if you fancied it?
Bec happens to be Marketing Manager for Wilson and Co, and as well as other support on the day, they’re sponsoring the North Lincs Half Marathon mile 13… In my euphoria I agree to have a look at the Half as I’d already had another half marathon planned for June and knew I might slack off on the training without something to keep me focussed. Two things stood out about the race – it was about a month away, and, more importantly it was flat! Perfect opportunity to improve on my time, knowing that the other races I’d entered were hilly, and that after the end of 2017 I never wanted to run a Half Marathon again!... ‘Where do I sign!?’
And so here I am, 4 weeks on, three days to go to Race Day and slightly nervous about Sunday. Weather has been checked, it looks like good conditions for a long run, kit has been tested, number and race pack received and overnight accommodation plans made – rather conveniently another contact at Wilson & Co had recommended Forest Pines Hotel and Spa in Scunthorpe, and I’ve just found out they’re a sponsor of the race too!
I’m now into my tapering phase of final race preparations (sounds so professional!) and there’s just the one last 5k to complete tonight (Thursday) before resting up ahead of Race Day. Despite the nerves I can’t wait for the challenge! And I know I’m going to enjoy seeing the mile 13 marker!
But why am I doing this? Well, I got into running about 15 years ago when my Dad challenged me to push my enjoyment of running at the gym and do a local 5k Race for Life. There was over 5,000 people at some of the early races, and turning up on my own was daunting, but I loved the atmosphere of the event!
Over the years since then I've done several events and distances in several locations around the country and have really enjoyed the experiences. When I moved back down south having spent an enjoyable 4 years in Sheffield, I wanted to get out and meet people and the gym just wasn't doing it for me.
Having not run regularly for a few years I nervously signed up for the first 5-10k group at a new local ladies running group, Athena, starting in Jan 2016. Just joining a new group was nerve wracking and well outside my comfort zone, let alone doing the running! But since then I've met new people, made new friends, improved my fitness and have now qualified to lead my own beginners group and become part of the future of Athena – funny how things change!
I'm also signed up for my local St Albans Half Marathon in June (run by the lady who started Athena) and the Luton Half Marathon in October. These two events have significant meaning, as I was signed up to run the St Albans Half back in June 2014, but sadly we unexpectedly lost my Dad in the May so training went out the window and I didn’t attempt the race. I tried the Luton Half that October, but didn’t train properly and had to walk half of it, so since then I’ve been determined to make Dad proud (he’d marked the St Albans race on the calendar as he was always my biggest supporter!), and after another emotional year last year for other reasons, I’ve committed that this year is the year to re-attempt the races!
I enjoyed watching the recent Mind over Marathon programme, as it closely mirrored my recent experiences with running, and like the people in the programme, just getting out and putting one foot in front of the other started to improve my overall wellbeing and outlook on life. I know it sounds corny, but it’s really true! I’ve particularly enjoyed my experience of becoming a run leader and the unexpected benefit of growing as an individual through leading our new beginners on our 0-5k programme. I’ve taken immense pride in seeing them achieving their goal, and more so when the majority of the group decided they loved running so much they signed up for our 5-10k programme!
Those ladies working hard towards their 5k target inspired me on some of my tougher longer distance training runs, when all I wanted to do was give up, but all I could think about was their pride in me when I could tell them I’d nailed it… I can’t wait to update them all after Sunday!! It’s fair to say it’s not an over exaggeration when people say that running has changed their life!