I don’t even know where to begin.
This is something I did not see coming.
To be totally honest, I did not even know there was a European Championships in an Olympic year, and when I got the email asking if I would like to run, I could not believe my eyes, TWICE in 6 months!?
Of course I jumped at the chance.
This one is possibly going to mean even more to me than the World Half did, and I cannot wait!
When I represented Great Britain and Northern Ireland in the World Half Marathon Championships, it was dream come true, I was absolutely over the moon and I allowed myself to enjoy the moment….in case the pictures didn’t already make that clear.
It didn’t quite feel like mission accomplished.
That wasn’t the race I had always dreamed of.
Because I didn’t give my “balls to the wall” 100% effort like I usually did, and most importantly, I felt like I hadn’t earned it.
Sure, family, friends, you guys made me believe that I did, and of course in reality, I did.
I put in all the hours and hours of work for it, and I proved I deserved to be there by finishing 3rd for Great Britain, but deep down, I knew I was only there because of another runner’s misfortune, and therefore it felt a little cheated.
Nevertheless, I still loved it, and I forced myself to believe that this was it, after all, I did not state on my bucket list any requirements, nor did I have any stipulations in my dreams about this. All I wanted was to hold that jersey in my hands knowing it was mine.
And I did, and it brought tears to my eyes.
But this time, I did earn it.
By finishing 3rd Brit in the World Half Marathon, I earned my right to be there.
It is mine for real, and I have every right to be on that Great Britain team, and boy, what a strong team it is this year.
We have a serious chance at a medal this year, and I am very excited to see what this team can do, as most of the best distance runners in the UK are in this team, so I am honored to be a part of it.
What a 6 months this has been for me and my running career!
It is hard not to think that a down must be coming, and could well be, so you know what, that is even more reason to enjoy every second of this, to take in this moment, soak it in, and just appreciate the opportunity.
I like to think that this has come together after over 12 years of hard work, 12 years of growing as a person and as a runner, 12 years of learning my body and what it can handle, or more importantly, LISTENING to what my body is saying, and 8 years with a coach who knows me better than anyone else.
We train smart. We learn from our mistakes, and we do the little things that make a difference.
One of those little things being helping me to let go of some of my control issues, especially the sucessaholism (yep, that has become a thing) that I struggle with the most.
So what are the details?
The 2016 European Championships in Amsterdam (Netherlands) take place on the 6th-10th July.
There will be over 1300 athletes taking part from over 51 countries.
46 events will offer medals to the top 3.
The Olympic Stadium from the 1928 Olympics was refurbished in 2000, and will be the location for most of the events.
The Half Marathon will be at 9:30am DST (sorry, that’s 3:30am for EST!) and will run through the city of Amsterdam.
Steve and I will fly out a few days early, and come back a few days after, which will be good as it will give me some time to change my body clock to this time zone, and just relax, although I will be in the athlete village and Steve will be in a separate hotel.
How does this change my racing schedule?
Not as much as you would think, other than missing Peachtree for obvious reasons (it is on July 4!), everything else will remain the same.
The European Championships are 13 weeks after the London Marathon, and 4 of the 6 girls on the team ran in that race and took time off afterwards.
The 2 weeks complete rest I took off after the London Marathon was a little longer than we would usually take after a race, which put me behind a little bit, and means that we are on a bit of a time crunch to get ready, but that being said, I felt completely rested after the 2 weeks off (usually I feel HORRIBLE for a month after I start back running), and I have been responding well to the training so far.
We still need to build a base before starting any real workouts, and build my mileage slowly (remember I said about training smart!), as it is better to get to the start line healthy than take big risks by making big jumps and never making it there.
The 5k I jumped in with Sarah showed a lot though as I was able to run a 18:16 5k feeling completely in control, (at about a 5/10 effort) after only 5 days of running.
I hope that does not make me sound like a completely snob.
I am not saying a 18:16 is any small feat, and I know that most runners would kill for that time as their ultimate PR, but for someone who is training to race in a European Championship where the winner will probably run about a minute per mile faster than that for another 9 miles, I need to get my butt (literally my glutes are the key here :P) moving 🙂
So I am excited about the opportunity to do this, and I feel confident that the 7 weeks we have left will be enough to get me fit and ready to go.
My coach (and husband) is a genius when it comes to creating training schedules, and as long as I can stay smart by running my easy runs slow enough, keep working hard in the gym with Drew (did you listen to my podcast episode with him about our training?) and on my hard workouts with Steve, and MOST IMPORTANTLY listen to my body and what it is telling me, rather than what a number tells me, then I think I will be ready to make myself proud.
This race is for me.
This is what I have earned and always wanted to do, and to be honest, this is the race I always saw myself racing. I never thought a World Championship would be my way into the world of representing Great Britain, I always had in my mind that it would be a European Championship, and here it is.
So time to put my head down, and do the best I can to keep my new relaxed mindset.
What is meant to be, will be, and I like the direction my journey is going right now, so I am going to enjoy this part of the ride and all the steps along the way, no matter what they bring.
I know there will be moments of doubt.
I know there will be times when I feel like I do not belong in a race like this, but I also know that I am a fighter, and I will give it my best over these next 2 months so that I make the most of the opportunity once I am in that race.
One thing I know for sure I do well is race 🙂
Share with me your scary goal that you someday hope to achieve. Have you ever been to Amsterdam? Tell me what I MUST do….remember, I LOVE food 😉
PS. THANK YOU SO MUCH TO EVERY PERSON WHO TOOK THE TIME TO CONGRATULATE ME!!!! I have been absolutely blown away by the number of kind messages, I truly appreciate it, you guys are really the best, and I am just so thankful.