Back in March when I was managing about 20 minutes of running, covering 3.5km in total, I saw the press release about Border Collie GB having to relocate due to HS2 running right through their property, and I knew I needed to do something.
I entered the Cannock Chase 10k!
5 months later I stood on the start line. I’ve been running 3 times a week consistently, I’d discovered a problem with my knees and had been working hard to strengthen them so that they would be able to cope with the hills.
7 weeks ago I managed to run a full 5k without walking for any of it along a flat course. Then I did it again. And last week I ran a slightly more hilly 5k course without walking at all.
I was a 5k runner finally!
But I wasn’t a 10k runner.
I’ve been building my distance up gradually. I’d covered 9k in just over an hour doing run/walk intervals. Last week I covered 10k in 1 hour 12 minutes doing run/walk (mostly run). But I wasn’t running 10k non-stop yet.
BUT! I was doing really well. I could easily walk the distance, so it was all about doing the best I could.
So there we were, standing on the start line, ready to go.
There was a countdown, then we didn’t move.
Take 2! Another countdown, then off we went this time.
We plodded along. I was feeling good. A little downhill then a gradual uphill. We kept running.
Everyone stayed bunched up for a lot longer than expected.
Soon we were going up, and up, and up. I managed to keep running up the hill, but my calves were tightening. Along a flat stretch, through a narrow passageway of low bushes, winding around, then we went up again and I had to slow to a walk. My calves were so tight! Like constant cramp but without the pain, just tight.
I’d put my compression socks on which normally help with this, but it wasn’t enough.
We walked the hills then ran the flats, I was starting to wonder how hard this was going to be. I was struggling. But so were a lot of people. Everyone around us was walking the hills and more. It was so so hot.
At around 3k something peculiar happened… I got pins and needles in my feet. Again it wasn’t a problem… just strange. Slowly my feet went more and more numb. It wasn’t effecting my running, it wasn’t painful, but I couldn’t feel them properly. This was not right.
We kept going past 4k and decided that I’d stop and try to sort it out at the water station just after 5k.
5k! Only 5k. Only halfway. My spirits lifted a little but there was still so far to go. A guy told us that we had done all of the hard work now, there were less hills to come. I wasn’t sure whether to believe him or not.
As we reached the water station I thankfully took a bottle of water and loosened my laces. That worked instantly. I never tie my trainers tight but obviously my feet had swelled much more than normal today. We walked a little and I tried my first gel. I thought it would be disguising but I didn’t mind it at all really, yes the consistency is a little strange but not bad.
We kept running but I needed to walk during each kilometre, even without hills. Try to keep going, try to keep smiling.
At 7k there was another steep climb. The air turned blue as we all said exactly what we were thinking! It was hard. A lot of the terrain was loose stone and sand so the ground moved as you pushed up the hill, making it much harder.
Just keep going. A steep downhill soon came and I just let my body take me. I’ve learnt to relax in to the hills and trust myself, rather than trying to fight it and go slow, which causes more pain. My friend said “You can tell you live in the country compared to townie me”. Yes, this was my terrain.
We reached 8k! We were so close.
At 9k we said we’d try to run all of the way to the end. I knew we were nearly there but there was another short but steep hill ahead of us. I walked up it but then we ran from the top.
People dotted around were shouting encouragement, a gentleman sitting down who was looking for another runner, a couple of runners who had already finished, a lady from GoApe. We were nearly there. I knew the final corner to the finish was coming up and then we were running alongside the car park.
My legs had nothing left but I kept going (that sounds cheesy but it’s so true).
I was looking around for Ash and my family. The finish was still so far away but we were getting there. Then there they were. My nephew Evan sat on the fence with my family.
And we did it!
Across the line.
Chip time: 1 hour 17 minutes 56 seconds.
My aim was around 1 hour 20, I would have liked 1 hour 10 but anything under 1 hour 30 was fine. In that weather and with those hills, that was good.
People who know the course and have been running a long time told me I’d done really well. Phew.
My friend Laura who I ran with was an absolute machine. She kept me going without being pushy. It was so good to have company, I couldn’t have done that alone.
Although it was so hard I really enjoyed it. The views were spectacular and I wish I had taken more photos along the way, but I was just too busy concentrating on where my feet were going, even while walking.
It pushed me and I hope that I pushed myself enough, but it didn’t become too painful or horrible that I hated it.
The tight calves and numb feet didn’t last forever and we finished with a smile on our faces.
Ready for the next one!
Thank you to everyone who sponsored me! I’m so proud to have smashed my target and the current total stands at £150 raised for Border Collie Trust GB.
If anyone would like to donate my Just Giving page is still open : https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/ruth-turner14