Firstly, thank you for all the birthday and anniversary wishes this weekend, I had a lovely weekend (other than of course being away from my husband!!!). We are going to celebrate next week when I get back to the US.
Most runners, myself included, have a bucket list of races they want to do in their lifetime.
For me, the summer of 2016 seemed like the perfect summer to check off lots of them as I didn’t have any longer races planned, nor were Steve and I going anywhere that would clash with them……little did we know 😉
So we planned out four races; Bix 7, Peachtree, Beach2Beacon, and Falmouth.
I was excited to physically put the check (or should I say “tick” as I am still in England!) next to the race in my spreadsheet, and see what all the excitement was about for these races. I did race Bix last year, but it was fun, so that was another one worth going back to.
Especially as they had AMAZING ice cream at Whiteys!
Always thinking of the sugar 😉
But no sooner had we planned these out, got Larry to reach out to the race directors, when Amsterdam was thrown in there. The European Championships representing your country would take precedent, so that threw Bix and Peachtree out.
But at least I had the two I really wanted to do left.
But life happens sometimes, and unfortunately, Beach2Beacon fell right in the middle of the time I had to travel home to be with my family for the passing of my dear Nanny Jolly.
We were not even sure whether I would race at all, the emotional strain was a lot on me, not just for grieving, but all the organization and stress associated.
The first weekend was out, not a chance I could mentally focus after that.
But with the help of my friend, Tom Craggs, we found a 5k in London that seemed pretty flat and fast. There were other options, but they had a lot of turns, and after Amsterdam, that was the last thing I wanted!
But we decided I was not going to taper at all as we did not know what would happen.
I ran 20 miles on Monday, and 8 miles worth of hard on Wednesday (including finishing with a 2:27 800m, which I was pretty proud of for these marathoner legs!!)
It was a great confidence booster workout, and although I knew I would be tired going into this race with two runs on Thursday, and a regular 9 mile run on Friday, I felt confident that I could potentially run very well.
But the day before the race, the grieving process really hit me.
I had been holding all my sadness in for the last 10 days, determined to be there as best I could for everyone else. As you know, I am honest, and I hate holding things in, so obviously, it came back to bite me.
On Friday night, I was exhausted.
Emotionally, I could not imagine racing or even getting out of bed the next morning. All I wanted to do was stare at the wall.
I didn’t care that it was my birthday the next day.
I told my parents I did not want to race, and went to bed…..at 8pm.
But as I tossed and turned that night, I decided I had nothing to lose.
The people who are going to judge me for running a slow time are not the kind of people I want in my life anyway. Nanny would have wanted me to get on with my life and go get things, that’s what she did after all.
So off we went at 6am to London for the race.
I had let the race organizers know I was trying to run fast, and they had a lead bike for me, but they warned me that they could only control so much, and they were not used to having someone of my level at the race, this was after all, a fun run, which is fantastic, as I am all about anything that gets people running!
I also had no idea how to pace a 5k, which was terrifying, but I was going to just run as hard as I could. I knew that if I was going to run fast, I would have to be out of breath from the start.
So off I went, and within 30 seconds, I had a big lead.
The first lap flew by, I was out of breath, but I felt strong, and I had high hopes of running fast. The lead biker was great, moving pedestrians out-of-the-way, so I had a very clear path of the inside of the lap.
I pushed out any thoughts that told me that the emotion of this week was going to hit me. I told myself to just focus on getting to the next corner, tree, kilometer mark.
But then the trouble came.
The race also involved a 10k, which was four laps of the course, and on the second lap, I had to run around the edge of them. The runners had no idea I was coming until the lead bike got to them, and they were five wide.
I knew I was running extra, but it was better than the alternative, which was to try to weave in and out of them on the inside.
I tried to hug the curve as best I could, but I was conscious that other focusing runners would still be trying to overtake others themselves and looking for ways to get around. I spent most of the second lap concentrating on not running into them.
In some ways, this was good, as it distracted my mind from the pain, but I honestly believe that was a good 15-20 seconds I added within the 2k lap.
As I crossed the finish, almost a minute ahead of the second place runner, no one even saw me coming! The photographers were not ready for me, and the final straightaway, the 10k runners were all over the path.
Not exactly ideal, but again, I am just happy people are participating in more running events!
Besides, 12 hours ago, I was not even going to race.
I crossed the finish line in 16:34, happy enough with that considering everything.
But the day was not done.
I had 14 miles total to run for the day (I had done less than half), and a speed workout to do.
After 1 mile jog in between, I completed 8×400 along the River Thames, with most of the passers-by thinking I was insane.
I ran as fast as I possibly could, and surprised myself with the paces I was able to run (most fell around 72-74).
After a long cool down, I was finally finished for the day, and could enjoy the rest of my birthday.
If you told me a few weeks ago that I would be celebrating my birthday with just my parents, I would have laughed. I thought my days with just my parents were long gone, but we decided to make the most of a day in London, and went out with my Godfather and his partner for lunch at CAU in Wimbledon.
I had such a wonderful day with my mum and dad, and don’t worry, I had lots of sugar.
I finally made it to The Pudding Stop after years of wanting to go, and it exceeded my expectations.
I went for the flourless chocolate cake with salted caramel chocolate sauce with milk ice cream.
But I still hadn’t had my proper cake, so then proceeded to eat my Lola’s Cookies and Cream Cupcake when I got home!
That evening, I facetimed Steve, and he “sat” with us for an hour while I opened my cards and presents. One of my best friends Charlie came over, and we all had a glass of Prosecco to celebrate.
How things can change in 24 hours. I had a wonderful birthday.
Thank you to everyone who took the time to wish me a happy birthday, your love and happy wishes made me smile, and I am so thankful for such a great 28 years on this world.
So hopefully my race experience can show you, that even if your week is stressful, even if you think that you cannot possibly run well after a stressful week, just go for it.
With no expectations, just see what you can do.
You have nothing to lose, and you may just surprise yourself 🙂
Have you ever done a race with no expectations?