My first “proper race”

A little while ago I was looking for running events to enter. I find having something to aim for keeps me motivated in my training and on track.

I found the Cheadle 4 in July, which sat perfectly on a free weekend and a month away from my Cannock Chase 10k. I’m used to running 5k so 4 miles is just slightly further, a good step up.

The information on the website was quite overwhelming, with talk of UKA rules! Eeek. I emailed the organiser to ask a few questions, and the response was so helpful and encouraging! The lovely lady gave me the confidence to then ask about whether it would be okay if I walked parts of it or if I would be too slow and be left behind. Her respond couldn’t have been any more encouraging, so I immediately entered.

As race day drew closer I was so grateful that a family member decided to enter with me. I wouldn’t be alone!

The day before arrived and I was so nervous, I went to parkrun and ran the whole 5k without walking! Boom. My confidence lifted but I wasn’t sure that I’d be able to manage almost another mile on top of parkrun, plus Cheadle has a lot of hills.

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Then it was the morning of the race. I drove past the park in to the organised car park and headed to the tent to register and pick up my number and t-shirt.

I tried not to look around but I couldn’t help it, and everyone looked like professional runners! Much fitter and more capable of me. I didn’t see one person looking nervous. Plus most people seemed to be members of running clubs.

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I tried to think positive thoughts and keep busy. Soon enough it was time to start, a fellow runner kindly showed us where to go and I spotted someone I knew and said a quick hello. I caught the announcer in mid flow saying “… so go steady if you need to..”. A lady in front said “I was planning on doing so anyway!”. I started to feel better.

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Then we were off! Everyone went so fast! We were soon at the back with a few other people who were also plodding. I know that starting off slow and finding a rhythm is better for me, so we stuck at our pace.

As the runners spread out we were amongst the last 10 runners, but we were following a few people that were all going at the same pace as us and were slightly ahead of someone going a little slowly. I started to feel good, we weren’t going to be left behind.

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We reached the 1 mile mark and hadn’t stopped for a walk. Cars started to come past us but there was plenty of room and space on the pavement. Then we turned off to the left and started to go up the hill. We ran a little then walked, and ahead at least 10 other people were doing the same.

It was so hot! However it didn’t affect me as much as I thought, I think I’m started to get used to it. “Embrace the sweat” I said.

Up and up we went, we walked briskly and had some short periods of jogging. Here we got chatting to a lovely lady who was also walking, she was part of a small social running group and had run the Cheadle 4 before. She was friendly and encouraging and was walking a lot herself, so joined us on our walk/run.

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Finally we passed the 2 mile mark and the course levelled out! The marshals told us that we had done the hard part. Around another corner and we were on to a steep decent. I started to run, relaxed my body and let the hill take me. There was a beautiful view looking down to Cheadle. Down and down we went, so fast, then as it levelled out we reached 3 miles! Just 1 more mile left!

Run walk run walk. We were so close but so tired. There was the photographer! Smile for the camera. Let’s try to keep running. We left our new friend behind who encouraged us on and then I recognised where we were, at the start line! Just around the corner, alongside the park and then the turn in to the park and finish to come. Off we went, don’t stop, keep running.

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As we turned in to the park we set off on a sprint! Where was this speed coming from?! I crossed the line feeling amazing. We had done it! The clock said 50 minutes. 50 minutes of running/walking!! That’s quite an achievement. It’s all about time on your feet, not how fast you can go.

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Time for a refreshing ice-cream and a sit down in the shade. What a great day!

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What a friendly event. It wasn’t so scary after all. Now that I’ve done one I can’t wait to enter the next one.

Next month is Cannock Chase 10k and then… what next?!

I have 2 goals in mind, to reach sub 30 minute 5k and to be able to run 10k non-stop. I think I will concentrate on building my non-stop distance to 10k, which in turn may improve my 5k time.

I think I’ve truly caught the running bug!

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