I started writing this with a weird sense of underachievement and disappointment. Why I hear you ask? First off, it doesn’t have anything to do with the race so much, but with myself.
I haven’t been able to train due to my knee playing up and this is after being unwell and (still) rebuilding myself after being unwell so that already put a damper on getting a PB. I had run with Ellie Goulding and Charlie Dark the week before as a pacer to the lovely ladies who would be taking part in the race, and much like the Tuesday before when I tried to run, my knee blew out after 3km. This had my fretting as to whether it would happen again on the day. I have never stopped or pulled out mid race, so this played on my mind a lot and I did all I could to ensure I was properly prepared and worked on looking after the knee. For the first time I was going into a race extremely underprepared and injured. Not clever.
But to the race itself. It was quite a walk to Victoria Park from either Mile End or Bethnal Green stations, we arrived from Mile End, I was fatigued from a day of yoga so wasn’t too happy on arrival. After queuing a lifetime for the toilet outside the Race Village we walked into a sea of colour (mainly from the mass of orange t-shirts) and found friends and fellow crew members before another long queue to check in our bags, there was a scramble to get bags in before catching the end of the warm-up and proceeding to the Start. The village was very well laid out with tents and bean bags, but with three thousand runners and press etc. it was overwhelming at times.
Nervous talk, laughter and Run Dem Crew away chants filled the area before we finally set off.
Now this is where things got hairy. Three thousand women running in a fairly narrow path which was then cordoned off in half is nothing short of crazy in such a large park. For the first two kilometres it was pretty much a very slow jog and trying not to trip or be tripped up. The music every couple of kilometres definitely meant a great vibe (big up Josey Rebelle and Lynda Phoenix holding it down). Thankfully the first five/six kilometres weren’t too bad especially with friends from Run Dem Crew there on official cheer duty. I’m not a big fan of the first few miles when I run and it went without any drama and Daniel who paced me round was amazing, keeping a check on the time with gentle nudges from time to time. It was agreed that we would see how the first half went regards to my knee and a plan of action after.
As my knee held up, Daniel gently picked up the pace and before I knew it we were passing the Crew again at eight kilometres, the adrenaline kicked in as I saluted my way through and started to feel ill. The rush swept through my body and my legs started to feel gelatinous. I got my head down and I was at nine kilometres but felt as if I couldn’t breathe properly and realised I didn’t have enough for the last thousand metres. I’m guessing Daniel realised this as well as he said “you’ve got this”. He took my water and just spoke to me and although I didn’t reply, I was grateful. The 500m marker felt like miles away, I walked the same way to get to the start, and running it seemed so much further. I still think it wasn’t 500m away, by the time we got to 200m to go I was ready to throw myself on the floor and have a tantrum. Why was I still running, why was I even running?! Daniel had told me when we got to this point I should assess how I felt and if I had it in me, to sprint and finish strong. At this point I questioned whoever invented running and wanted to clothesline them. But as I approached 100m to go, I looked over at Daniel and started sprinting.
I’m sorry, what?!
I darted around people and sprinted through the finish line. I won’t mention running through and going to the barrier as I though I was going to pass out/vomit/die.
Then came the overwhelming sense of emotion having realised how far I had come since February. I didn’t get a PB on this occasion, but I proved to myself that I will eventually get one with more rehabilitation and training. Then there’s Charlotte who hasn’t run a race in ages and my sister who told Charlie a year ago at my medal ceremony she doesn’t run … ran her first race. Proud.
I don’t have enough words right now for Daniel. From my hospital bed to crossing the finish line you were and always have been so supportive and I’m grateful to you for helping me achieve this milestone to getting better. Not to mention Darren, Baz and Cory (BANG).
Special thanks to Greg & Chloe at Nike and the lovely Niran and Tahirah at Awesomeness Central.
With a dodgy knee, no training and gentle pushing from a running buddy the night got owned on May 18th.
And there will be many more of those to come if I have anything to do with it.