Donna Louise 5k Fun Run

I entered the Donna Louise 5k fun run at Trentham Gardens as something to aim for and keep me on track. I was going through a bit of a “race excitement” moment and was looking for local 5k’s to enter and this one sprang out at me.

They have a 10k and a 5k race together and my friend did the 10k last year. It’s a beautiful course plus you and your spactators get free access to the gardens which you would normally need to pay for.

Originally the plan was that this run would be a good test of my 5k ability and I would be just starting to increase my distance past 5k, looking ahead to the 10k in August. Unfortunately my issue with my knees has stalled my progress somewhat and 2 weeks ago I was actually worrying if I would be able to do this run at all as I was resting and my knees were all strapped up. I didn’t want to cancel and thankfully my knees have been okay for the past week. Although doing a 5k so soon after recovery probably wasn’t ideal it meant I had zero expectations for the day. I was just going to do it and run to feel. If I needed to run/walk intervals the whole way round then that’s fine or if I was feeling good I’d crack on with it.

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The morning of the run arrived and surprisingly I was feeling really nervous. I realised this is my first “proper” running event that I’ve done, as the last two were fun mud runs with friends, plus I was going to be running on my own. I was completely unsure how I was going to manage, would me knees hurt, would I cope with the heat, would I need to walk a lot of it?! I also get slightly anxious when going to new places and new events so all of the daft thoughts were going through my head such as “What if I can’t find the start line!” “What if I end up doing the 10k race.” “What if we are late.” Ahhhhh. Why do our brains do this to us?!

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Thankfully everything ran smoothly, we arrived in plenty of time, chilled out at the start area and then it was time to get lined up. As I chose my spot in the crowd I spotted a friend from Scouts who was running with his son who is in my Beaver Section and we had a good laugh and a chat while we waited to get going. We set off running together, a very slow shuffle at first which built gradually. Some people were obviously intending on walking the whole way so we had to do some ducking and dodging at first and after about 5 minutes my friend left me behind as his 7 year old was going at a much faster pace than me!

I shuffled along at a very comfortable slow pace which made a nice change as normally everyone (including me) sets off too quickly. Ash and Dan had come with me and the course bends and loops around a little at the start so I got to see them several times before leaving them behind for the long, slow straight along one side of the lake.

At the 1k mark I was feeling great, I was at a nice pace and feeling comfortable. It was hot and my mouth was dry but my breathing felt good. At 2k everything was still good, brilliant in fact and I thought “I can run the whole way. I can keep going without walking.” My calves were a little tight which I find happens when I run too slow so I upped the speed a little, dodging and weaving round people once again.

We reached the far end of the lake and everyone at the cafe was cheering and clapping as we ran through. I was starting to flag and I grabbed a bottle of water, thankful to get some moisture back in my mouth. I found running with the bottle difficult and begrudgingly threw it in a bin still half full.

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I could see the 3k mark ahead but I was struggling and despite my best efforts of saying “just keeping going until that mark” I found myself slowing to a walk. I was in a real dilemma whether to keep pushing harder but then potentially need a longer recovery walk and/or completely run out of juice before the end, or stop sooner and have a shorter recovery walk and therefore get going again sooner with juice still left. I opted for a short walk and started running again quickly but found I had to slow again.

We were now nearly at the other end of the lake and I could see Ash and Dan ahead so I started jogging again. As I ran past them Dan joined in next to me and encouraged me along and I could see Ash racing past to one side to get ahead of me. Dan peeled off to the side and Ash was there ahead taking more photos and encouraging me.

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I knew the finish line wasn’t far away but I was struggling and as we turned on to loose gravel and then reached a slightly incline I was back to a walk.

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Up the hill and round a corner and I could see the finish line! I got running again but to my disappointment we were turned off to the right and had to go up another hill before looping around to approach the finish from the other direction. I couldn’t muster the strength to run up the hill so walked (along with pretty much everyone else around me).

Then just as I was nearly at the top I spotted my friend again! I hadn’t seen them for the whole run but there they were, just ahead, also walking. As we started the downhill stretch before looping round a final corner and on to the finish straight I set off running, trying to catch them, but just hadn’t got the strength left in me. It took every ounce of effort to keep my legs moving and I shouted at them to keep running as I also saw them struggling to run for the finish and about 30 seconds behind them I crossed the line. Absolutely done!!

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37 minutes 30 seconds! Not a personal best but a decent time and most importantly a great experience. Considering I haven’t ran 5k for quite a while and have lost a fair bit of fitness over the past month since the Troll Run I am so proud of myself. That’s also the first time I’ve run in the heat and I coped better than I thought.

Ash and Dan made all the difference and I’m so glad they were able to make it as I thought I would be going on my own. Their support and encouragement helped to keep me going, plus running that first 5 minutes with my friend just started the whole thing off on a high.

Trentham Garden’s is beautiful and it was really enjoyable to run around it.

My legs and knees were a little stiff but I wasn’t feeling the knee pain that I had after the Troll Run, and this morning they feel a little worn out but again, not the same pain as before. I’m going to give myself a few extra days rest than normal and I’m off to see the physio again on Wednesday to start some strength exercises, so hopefully everything is all good this time and I can get started on a serious training plan again.

Knowing the event was coming has definitely kept me on track with my training and it’s nice to have another medal to my collection. That’s 3 now! Can’t wait to do many more events. While out for a meal last night a family member said “You’ve got the running bug have you?!” and I thought Yes, Yes I have!

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