“Aren’t you being a bit ambitious?”
That’s what I was told when I announced I planned to run a 10k in under an hour in 2017.
In all fairness, what the speaker could see in front of him was a fat middle aged woman swaddled to the nines in ancient running gear. Not an inspiring sight!
But what he didn’t know was that I have a track record of proving people wrong, and those words spurred me on over the past year as I slowly prepared to tackle the Great Ireland Run.
You see I’ve been waiting to do this for more than ten years. I tried in 2011, but didn’t make it across the finish line in under the hour. And this time it felt even more important. Age is not on my side, and 2017 was the perfect year for the attempt: my eldest is still living at home, my disabled daughter is loving her day programme, but it’s only guaranteed until the end of August, while my teenage son has no exams this year.
As well as that, the training went well: I had a partner in crime, my friend Lisa, and we pulled and pushed each other on many runs, often as part of Pat’s training group in the Phoenix Park – held in the mornings, so I can actually get there.
My eldest daughter looked after her brother and sister for me as I squeezed in random training runs whenever I could. And I also benefited from going to gym. It was not a heavy training schedule – no more than 3 1/2 hours a week in total – but it was hard, and I was stiff and sore for most of the past three months. But now I am slimmer and fitter than I have been in a long time, which will help me continue in my caring role too.
Race day was perfect, cool and calm and everything went to plan. Just as well, as the Great Ireland Run is not an easy course: You’d lose count of the number of hills, and I certainly slowed down to a crawl on the last one: so thankful to the lovely woman who encouraged me to keep going, and told me that I was still on track to make my target time. So I sped up as soon as the course levelled off over the last two kilometres, desperate for a sight of the finish line.
And then I saw it.
And the time read 57 minutes. I couldn’t believe it. First came the smiles, and then I was overcome when I finally crossed the line. I staggered to a halt and burst into tears. So of course the medical team rushed over with concern and a sick bucket! And I gabbled on about how important the day was for me. I expect they thought I was completely mad.
For the past 30 years, I’ve rated running the London Marathon as one of the biggest achievements of my life. It’s now been beaten.
Finally I have to mention the glorious Liz McColgan, whose winning 10K run at the Tokyo World Championships in 1991 is always at the back of my mind any time I felt like quitting. Thank Liz!
Adding this post to this week’s Reasons to be Cheerful linky because I’m still taking it easy after all that hard work on Sunday 😉