After the disaster with dehydration at the Burnham Beeches race, I was forced to take a few days rest. It is amazing what rest and good food can do to the body, as I have since proved when I ran the Bristol Half Marathon. There were 16,000 people running and not only was the atmosphere was amazing, but I was lucky to have my family and a few friends in the crowd to support me. I took to heart what Tony told me - that 'success is a planned event' - so I planned, nourished my body correctly and had sufficient sleep.
Ready at the start line, I took in everything around me, then the gun went off. It was a strange feeling being back in Bristol, a place that has few good memories for me, but the music on my iPod counteracted any bad memories and told me that this was the end, and that I was free! I felt inspired and was happy that I was running well and enjoying every moment. For the first 3 miles I took in the atmosphere. For miles 6, 7, ∧ 8, I began smiling back at the people smiling at me and looking down at my watch, I did a double take. Quickly doing the maths in my head, I realised that if I kept this up I was on for a good time. At mile 10 I had to laugh as my sports bra unhooked itself, but I wasn't prepared to stop and waste seconds doing it up. I did wonder if anyone could tell that I wasn't supported! Then at mile 12 I needed the loo, but again, I wasn't prepared to stop as I hadn't run like this since 2006. So I did another Paula Radcliff moment - runners understand that you do what you have got to do! Less than a mile from the finish line I saw my brother who tried to run along side me, but I knew I had to stay focused and keep going. I was pleased and shocked to cross the finish line in 1:52:55, only 22 seconds off my PB (personal best). I had run the best race I've run in years and couldn't stop looking at my watch as I rushed to tell my family. All the hard work that I had been putting into my training was starting to pay off. The Bristol Half Marathon was amazing and brought back so many memories of the London Marathon. It all reinforced my excitement and anticipation for New York!
The following week, I ran the Dunstable Downs 20, which was my first 20 mile cross country race. Although I had been doing cross country training leading up to this race, and earlier in the year did a 10k cross country for fun, I still didn't know what to expect. A friend asked me that morning what time I was looking for and I said that I honestly had no idea, perhaps 3-5 hours? I had no idea what pace I would be running, nor how running cross country would effect my body compared to that of the road. I also did not know how I would cope with the new experience of map reading while running. Normally I follow the person in front of me and have mile markers all the way round to follow. Before the start of the race I was a cocktail of nerves and excitement but it helped to have other runners from Bearbrook Joggers taking part and then Linda kindly offered to let me run with her. What a beautiful run it was to cross the 20 miles of Dunstable Downs. The beautiful scenery reminded me of The Sound of Music and I had the urge to sing as I ran 'The hills are alive..........' and left the map reading to Linda, who had done this many times before. There were 3 check points during the course to help break the race up at 6, 10 & 15 miles. My muscles started to kick in at about 19 miles, the same feeling I had running the London Marathon at 25 miles. I was told that 20 miles cross country is about the same as 26 miles on the road. It was perfect running weather, and I was delighted to find that I had completed the race in 3:41:12.
After two fabulous races, I will be taking it easy this week before picking up the pace again. I will do cross training in the gym to work on my fitness and combine this with a few light runs.
Until next week.....