Birmingham Half Marathon

After weeks and weeks of training hard for the Birmingham Half Marathon, the big day finally arrived and it was pouring down with rain! That didn’t stop us runners from going out there though.

The week leading up to the race was terrifying. I kept doubting myself and my capabilities. I was stressing over what I was eating and what I should be eating. The night before I swear i could not feel my legs at all! I kept tossing and turning in bed, praying that I would be able to get enough rest. I was up at the crack of dawn, feeling relieved I could actually feel my legs! I double checked I had everything I needed in my bum bag to carry with me whilst running and packed a rucksack with things I’d need for after the race – dry clothing including a hijab, protein bar and water bottle. In my bum bag I carried dates for fuel whilst running as well as some sweets. I like to keep my hands free when running so don’t carry a water bottle with me. I checked that the race was giving out water bottles at miles 3, 6, 9 & 12 so didn’t need to take my own. I can run 6 miles without any water so could grab some along the way when needed.

Birmingham is my home town so luckily I didn’t need to book any accommodation beforehand, and had my husband come to drop me off at the start of the race. Before leaving home I must have gone to the toilet at least 10 times! The nerves were definitely kicking in. Once we arrived in the city centre, we made our way to the starting point in New Street. The place was busy! The first waves were getting ready to start whilst others were waiting for their waves to start, lots of spectators around waiting to cheer on starters.

We were told before the first wave of people set off that the course had been shortened. A half marathon is a 13.1 mile race but due to health and safety reasons the organisers told us that they had to shorten the distance by 1 mile and we would not be able to run through Canon Hill Park. To be honest I wasn’t too disappointed by this, at the time anyway.

I met a few familiar faces as I was waiting for my pink wave to start but I wasn’t running with them. I got called over by a couple of people from The Big Run Project to join them at the start line. I was hesitant at first as they are more experienced runners and I haven’t even been running for a year yet! But I joined them as we were waiting to get started but as soon as we passed the starting line I had lost them! I didn’t mind as I prefer to run on my own anyway, I’d hate for them to have to slow down their pace for me as I was intending on taking it slow and steady.

The atmosphere was absolutely buzzing! The spectators were lively, the music was loud, there were dhol players, choir singers, steel pan players. I started off at a quicker pace than I had wanted to but once I got pass the starting line I felt to energised and focused so that the pace I was going at didn’t feel fast or uncomfortable. The drizzling rain didn’t bother me either!

I found myself at a steady pace enjoying the crowds and the sights of Birmingham. There was plenty of encouragement from the crowd – lots of claps, hi 5’s, motivational words of encouragement (my favourite one being ‘You run better than the government’, it couldn’t be more accurate at this time!), plenty of sweets, chocolate and even cakes being handed out!

I absolutely loved every single moment. I started to get tired after mile 8 and had to slow down a bit and even walked a little whilst drinking water but I am so proud of myself for not walking as much as I did during training. The hardest stretch was running uphill past New Street station, I had to completely walk that bit! I was saving the little energy I had left for a sprint finish at the end and before I know it I was crossing the finishing line in under 2 hours! I had no idea how I had managed that. I was looking around for my husband and children but they were nowhere to be found. I decided to call my husband as I was collecting my race goodie bag and found out that they had just arrived and were making their way to me. My husband was shocked to find out I had already finished, and so was I! I couldn’t understand how I managed to finish in that time until I looked at my watch and Strava app to find out that the actual race had been 2 miles short instead of 1 mile as we had been told by the organisers. I was at that point absolutely gutted. I thought I had ran 12 miles in under 2 hours but it was actually 11 miles. It would have probably taken me another 20 minutes to run the full distance which in a way is still a great goal. My initial goal was to finish the race in less than 3 hours and my absolute ideal would have been 2:30 and I don’t know for sure if I would have achieved it.

As I made my way towards the event village, I remembered I’d pre-booked a sports massage so made my way to the tent to have that done. My calves were feeling pretty tight and the massage really helped. I was joined by my friend and her son at the end of my massage and soon afterwards I saw my family. It was great to see them all. After spending some time at the event village, we made our way home where the first thing I did as soon as I got through the doors was run a bath and have a nice, long, relaxing soak. I did struggle to go up the stairs and thought I wouldn’t be able to walk for a few days but I surprised myself the next day by joining my friend on a 5k run!

I came away from the race inspired and motivated to enter another one and am looking to enter one soon. I don’t think I am quite ready to run a full marathon yet, but that is something that I would eventually love to do.

By the way, I wasn’t just running for myself. I was also fund raising for the British Lung Foundation (www.blf.org.uk), a fantastic charity helping those with respiratory problems and COPD.  People often forget it’s healthy lungs that let you live, work and play to your maximum!

I want to say a BIG THANK YOU to all those who sponsored me, you can still do so by clicking here

 

The study and treatment for lung diseases is underfunded and poorly researched, lung problems can affect anyone at any age and that’s why I raise money for the BLF.

Running Alone

I did it! I went out to run on my own outside today. I received a few messages yesterday from people who suggested starting at a park to build my confidence up and that really helped. It didn’t seem so daunting running in the park. It was a cold morning and I set out later than I had hoped to be out by, but I didn’t back down! I set the timer for 30 minutes on my phone and launched the Strava app to record the length of the run. I must admit, even though I only did 30 minutes it felt a little boring running around the park. I just kept going round and round! I did 4.4km in that time which I was happy with.

First run statsI’ve signed up for Park Run (http://www.parkrun.org.uk/) this Saturday and hope I will get a good time for 5k. This will be my first ever proper timed run. I have done Race for Life (https://raceforlife.cancerresearchuk.org/) in the past but I normally just walk, never attempted to run!

I really want to try and do a different route tomorrow even though I am really nervous to go out on the roads. I might have to go super early when there aren’t many people outside! It sounds pretty stupid right? Grown woman like me nervous to go outside to run. I don’t know what’s stopping me. Maybe I feel I will get judged for running because I wear a headscarf? I know it is silly, most people are probably too busy going about their day to notice but I think that is my main fear. Anyhow, I’ve got today to sort myself out and plan a route before I attempt going out tomorrow morning. Wish me luck guys! x

strava map

 

 

 

Couch to 5K

I finally plucked up the courage to join a local Couch to 5K group. I had been thinking about this for a few months now but could not get myself motivated to register and get started. If you’ve not heard of Couch to 5K, it is basically a running plan for absolute beginners. The plan involves 3 runs a week, with a day of rest in between, and a different schedule for each of the 9 weeks.

One of the main reasons I didn’t initially want to get involved was because I felt too conscious of running in public! I had all sorts of thoughts going through my head – the main fear being judged by passers by or drivers in their cars, so I kept putting it off until I saw a post on Facebook recently about a new Couch to 5K group. It was all very positive so I decided to give it a go. I signed up just for one week, I didn’t want to commit to any more than that in case I was totally rubbish! I managed to persuade a good friend to sign up too so it didn’t feel as daunting.

We went along to our first session yesterday. I was sooooo nervous. I had no idea what to expect as we were joining on week 3 and I was worried I wouldn’t be able to keep up with the group. But I was put at ease straight away by fellow members and the run leader. It was an extremely cold morning and it would have been so easy to give it a miss and stay at home in the warmth but I am glad I had a buddy to go with as we motivated each other to go to it!

Once we got started I absolutely loved it! Yes, you read that right, I loved it. I ran for 3 minutes straight and wanted to carry on for longer. It sounds crazy but once I got started, the cold weather didn’t bother me. I soon warmed up and enjoyed the cold air hitting my face.

Run Together RunFit Shirley

Run Together RunFit Shirley

So what are the benefits?

There are plenty of benefits from getting into running. For starters, it’s an easy way of improving physical health.

Running requires little equipment, a good pair of running trainers and you’re good to go!

Running regularly will improve the health of your heart and lungs. It can also help you lose weight, especially if combined with a healthy diet. Absolutely perfect for those following Slimming World plan alongside it – running can count towards your body magic.

There’s evidence it may help increase bone density in some people, which can help protect against bone diseases like osteoporosis.

There are also mental benefits of running. Taking on the challenge of Couch to 5K can help boost your confidence and self-belief, as you prove to yourself that you can set yourself a target and achieve a goal.

Running regularly can also be a great stress reliever and has even been shown to combat depression.

How to get started?

You can get started on your own by downloading The One You Couch to 5K app. It gives you a choice of coaches and helps you track your progress. You can also check out the Coach to 5K website for a weekly 9 weeks running plan.

Or you could do what I did and find a group you can join near you. Most of these groups are free and I find it more motivating being part of a group rather than running on my own, plus it is safer if you’re thinking of running outside.

There is a new 8 week plan starting on 7th Jan. If you’re local and would like to get involved or for details and how to pre-register visit https://groups.runtogether.co.uk/RunFitShirley