There has always been something in particular (among other awesome aspects) that I have adored about all of the running events I have taken part in so far. The seaside being your permanent view; the support given around the course, and importantly, among the runners; the uphill struggle being accompanied by an incredible downward drop where you feel like you’re flying (and all of terrible thoughts and words directed at the basicallyMountEverestright? ten minutes before are instantly forgotten); the goody bag at the end… I guarantee most runners are as excited as five year olds at a birthday party when they are handed that little bag. Quite honestly I only enter so I can discreetly – or not so discreetly – sneak my new bling into an Instagram or place it somewhere any visitors will most certainly see. The medal is synonymous with vanity; that’s a given. I have run some awesome routes; met ace people; felt eternally grateful for where some water stations are placed…
… And then there’s the Great South Run.
As soon as I think of the Great South Run I think atmosphere. The drummers; the excited speaker talking through the tannoy; the warm up before; the constant (and I mean constant) support from onlookers and the runners. It doesn’t matter who you are, if someone notices you’re struggling they are likely to check up on you or give you the boost you need.
It was a very hyped day and it meant a lot of gestures simply had me wanting to cry. I ran for the Stroke Association last year (awesome charity!) and I was visibly struggling at mile six. A man who was also wearing the purple Stroke vest passed me and said, “You’ve got this.” And, well, I guess I did. I have never been part of a race as supportive as this one. It’s the biggest event I have been a part of which meant so many of us were just your normal person trying to tick off a goal and it was second nature to everyone to support other goal-ticker-offerers!
I ignored the warning of there being a hill before race day came about, and to be honest, I don’t regret this choice. “Ooooh, that’s a hill isn’t it?” someone remarked as my section of at-the-time runners felt the incline. I think nerves would have consumed me if I knew about it- I’ve run events with worse hills since but man, that Mount Everest felt like the last thing I needed. Luckily everyone tackled it in good spirits with plenty of jokes, which made it somewhat bearable.
The finish is still my favourite finish of all of the events I have taken part in since- maybe nearly entirely due to the fact that I felt so drained most of the way round. The Great South Run is known for its headwind at the end of the race as you run alongside the seafront. 2015’s race didn’t bring headwind, which I was incredibly grateful for. I did struggle all the same, and so when I turned the corner into the final stretch, I sprinted as fast as I could, assuming my family, who were at the finish, would see. I like to believe they didn’t see because I was so zoom-y! It was, however, amazing and humbling to see the Stroke Association team cheering me on.
I most definitely have my rose-tinted glasses on but as far as I can remember, I can’t fault this event, despite definitely struggling during those ten miles last year. The Great South was my first ever running event and the one I have battled with the most so far. I am back with vengeance (mostly because my family completely missed my sprint finish) to raise more money and to beat my personal best.
I ran for Stroke Association after my nan died last year from suffering strokes. Stroke Association is an incredible charity that support victims of strokes, are a massive part of improving and developing treatment and create innovative ways to help (FAST).
During the run I really vividly remember thinking, “This is hard. I am not cut out for this. Never again.” *Queue inspirational turn around.* A month later I ran my first half marathon. The Great South Run, being my first event, taught me a lot that helped not only in the half marathon that followed but all of the events after that:
- One must hill train. It’s not the worst hill I’ve begrudgingly taken on but since it’s a super flat route, it’s a shock to the system. I have incorporated hill training into most of my runs each week
- Clothing. It was a HOT day. The month might have been October but I certainly didn’t need a long-sleeve t-shirt underneath my vest. It’s crucial to be ready for any weather and to remember you’re going to get hot on a ten mile run even if it’s mid-December
- Cool down afterwards. I was super silly and didn’t cool down and my muscles didn’t recover for about two weeks!
This year I will be running for St George’s Hospital Charity for my friend Lewis. Lewis suffered a brain haemorrhage a few months ago. I wanted to say thank you for looking after him and since Lewis felt so grateful it felt only right to raise as much money as possible for the hospital and people just like Lewis.
I ran the race in 1:32:34, which I was disappointed with but very aware I couldn’t have done better! This year I am aiming for somewhere (although I’m not too sure where yet) between 1:20:00 and 1:28:00!
I want to raise as much as I possibly can for Lewis and the wonderful work the hospital carried out, so if you would like to donate – anything counts! – I will leave the link to my Just Giving just there! The NHS are clearly struggling and I’m super glad Lewis suggested fundraising for this hospital!
~ Kat ~