Other WRC team members out for this run were Debbie Millington, Hazel Williams, Lindsay Plumb, Jess Sutcliffe, Holly Blakemore, Craig Rimmer, Gary Young and Jayson Liggett. Not going to lie standing alongside these people I felt a little in awe – what was I doing with these accomplished runners!! There were a couple of things playing on my mind. Firstly there was a time limit, and secondly it was 3 laps. Laps are one thing, but 3 laps totalling 20 miles was a whole new ball game.
As the time crept closer and we’d collected our tshirts the nerves tried to creep in… Thoughts running round my head….you’ve never run more than 13 miles in one go, you’ve never done more than 15 in a day, everyone will be fed up waiting for you…etc, etc. all being dismissed with the positive thought – you’re just going to do it and that’s that.
We set off at 10.30 and I kept myself from running off with the others, I knew there would be no chance of me completing if I did.
Life felt good, the sun was shining, and I was happy. I would go as far as to say for the first 6 or so miles (including a significant hill and very dry mouth) I enjoyed myself. With loop 1 done I expected the 2nd to be tough but to my surprised I plodded on. Lots of mile maths going on in my head and keeping a fairly consistent pace I was 2/3 done and pleasantly surprised to have taken over 7 minutes of my half marathon PB. As much as I felt good I was tired, and to pass the finish knowing what lay ahead was a real blow. No matter how hard I tried the positivity drained bit by bit and I resigned myself to slowing down. From about mile 15 I went through one of the biggest challenges I’ve ever faced. It was lonely, hilly and hot. I hated running and I hated the sun. Feeling hungry and tired I was ready to give up on all my running goals. Now worried about the others finishing and having to wait, about the time limit, and basically anything I could think of to worry about. By mile 18 I thought I’d reached my limit (since learned this is known as a runtrum). A fellow runner whose name I don’t even know gave me some much needed moral support and jelly babies, I wish I could tell her how much she helped. Mile 19 came and I couldn’t understand why I was this close to the end and couldn’t make my legs run properly. 4 hours after starting I counted down each fraction of a mile knowing I still had to get uphill to the finish, and from ahead I heard my name. I’ll never be able to explain the impact of seeing those guys. I borrowed some strength, ran up the hill and was mentally carried to the finish. I can’t even say that it felt good afterwards. There was no elation or sense of satisfaction, I was just numb and hugely grateful for the support. If I hadn’t had the push at the end and the reassurance afterward I wouldn’t even be attempting to go on to Manchester marathon. For the rest of the day it might sound dramatic but I was kind of in shock. I know some of the other runners felt pretty bad afterwards too, I guess long distances can have a big impact on your body.
I’ve learned a lot; fuel better, pace myself better, don’t underestimate a big step up in distance, and most importantly WRC members make running what it is. Would I recommend this event? Absolutely yes. I can’t say that I enjoyed it, but I do believe it’s made me stronger and that’s what it was supposed to do. Don’t expect crowd support, lots of water stations, medals or goodie bags because it’s not that kind of event (and reflected in the reasonable price)
I now look at distance running with a new level of respect and I look at the club and its members with a new level of appreciation. One word of advice for anyone upping to this distance….check your watch before you save your run, because I only did 19.99 miles.
Laura Cheers WRC.