With 2011 almost over and my last race of the year finished, I’ve been reflecting on my love of running. Just why do I love it so much? Enough to make me buy a headtorch and run on cold winter’s nights. Enough to get myself back up again after falling flat on my face and finish that run. Enough to get up early, drive to a race and run til I’ve got nothing left to give and then some. Coping with bad weather, sore toes and cold noses is just part of the runners winter skill set. I’ve pulled muscles, am about to lose a toe nail and grazed myself in places you can’t even imagine with a fall. Yet I still love it – why?
This year started off with a promise. I promised myself that I would see a running coach to try to work out why I was so slow. In February I drove up the motorway and met up with Ian for the first time. I was nervous and excited. What would I do if he thought I was rubbish? What if I couldn’t change? Running with him was a revelation. A revelation in what I could achieve. With him I ran 8 minute something miles (I was more of an 11/12 minute miler at this point) off road in the beautiful Peak District.
Then I returned home and in my next run promptly forgot everything and injured my hip! I really struggled to change my technique and over analysed everything. At one time I remember describing my running style as of that of a lob sided elephant! I soldiered on though and we went off to the alps for 12 weeks. I had some great runs out there. Stunning views, gorgeous weather and awesome trails. I raced a 10k in Chamonix in July and finished in 1:09 which I was quite pleased with as there was a big walking section in it due to the trail and the sheer amount of racers.
Back in the UK, Ian came down to see me to check on my technique and go for a run. He, again, opened my eyes to what I could achieve. I ran faster and smoother than I had ever done before. The following weekend I raced the Blacks North Face Singletrack Trail 10k race. I loved that race but know I can do better – I want to do that race again and beat my time (1:04). Ian’s teachings began to gel after this race. I just seemed to get ‘it’ without really knowing what ‘it’ was. My speed increased, my recovery times improved and I began overtaking people on my local runs. This was new to me and I liked it!
In November I ran the Dirt Half Marathon, an off-road half that I really wanted to try my new technique on. I only ran with a wrist watch and had a rough idea of running 10 minute miles which I knew I could do fairly comfortably. I really enjoyed the race until mile 11 when my quads just got really tired and by the time I finished the race I was wrecked. So wrecked I couldn’t do any stretching back at the car and hobbled downstairs for several days afterwards. I finished in 2:13 and am chuffed with this because I know I can do better. If my legs hadn’t given up 2 miles before the end who knows what time I could have got?
Last week I ran the British Heart Foundation Santa Jog in a Santa suit. I loved it, I felt strong and fit and invincible. Amazingly I was the first lady Santa over the line at 8k and I’ll take that as a win! What a way to end my running year. I feel I’ve come far but I also feel I’ve got lots more to come. Bring on 2012 that’s all I can say!