So here I was on the start line with my two best friends… how on earth did I end up here?
After entering a couple of 10k races last year I was after a challenge, a fellow SJ suggested I do a longer run and raise money for Phyllis Tuckwell who looked after and cared for my Dad so well last year. A great idea but after people donated to the charity after his funeral it needed to be enough of a challenge for people to put their hands in their pockets again so after speaking with my two best friends (who unfortunately also lost their Dads last year and they too were so wonderfully cared for by Phyllis Tuckwell), we all decided to train for and run the Great South Run together. Ten miles!
We got our PTH vests and started our training, two of us local and running with the Tuesday night SJ group and the third friend living fifty miles away and undertaking her own training. It was tough! Between us over the summer we had a shoulder operation (no training allowed), an ongoing calf injury and terrible asthma. The day was getting closer and to be honest we all felt under prepared, doing our best to train but not getting up to the distance we felt we needed to achieve before the big day.
So race day arrived, alarms were set… or so we thought!!! My phone ‘pinged’ at 7.05am – ‘I’m outside!’ Oh My Goodness, my alarm hadn’t gone off! I was all of a muddle, thank goodness I had prepared my kit and bag the night before. We were off, me eating my pre race banana in the car. We were chatting and excited to finally have the day here. We parked well, and did a recce of the start/finish lines, then back in the car for a while to keep away from the howling wind and cold (BTW Storm Brian was causing much amusement as Dad was called Brian and I was hoping he was with us for the day ‘pushing’ us along). Next was the enormous queue for the toilet before the race, frustrating but it had to be done.
Down on the start line we were all wearing our Phyllis Tuckwell tops and had our Dads names on our backs – after all we were doing it for them and nothing was going to stop us now…. not even the rotten cold one of us had been suffering with all week and was not fully recovered from. We were off, we had said we would try to run 27 mins and walk 3 mins, however the atmosphere was amazing the crowd buzzing and nothing could stop us. We ran for well over an hour before walking for a short while and then back onto the running. We’d agreed ‘slow and steady’, which we kept to and it was a great strategy for us as we smiled, danced, cheered and thoroughly enjoyed those first few miles. We had some supporters that had managed to see us a couple of times, but then it started to get tougher at mile 6 as the supporters thinned out and our legs began to get tired. But we kept at it, making sure we took on plenty of water and the odd jelly baby. We dug deep and remembered our Dads when moments got tough, how tough they had fought and how proud they would be of us right now.
The final mile was in sight, the wind was blowing hard along the esplanade but we carried on knowing we had more supporters at the end, and we were doing well – we wanted to finish under 2.5 hours, but time really wasn’t the motivator, it was being together, just finishing the race in one piece, and raising some money for a well deserving charity.
800 metres to go…. it was the longest 800 metres, the finish line still wasn’t in sight (with storm Brian blowing a gale the large start and finish inflatables hadn’t been used). 200 metres to go, we all grabbed hands, that started the tears, we powered on, held our hands high and cried, whilst smiling across the line…. WE HAD DONE IT FOR OUR DADS!!!
What an achievement, we were elated, our cheering committee was there with hugs, smiles and tears. We had done it in 2 hours 13 minutes. Honestly, I thoroughly enjoyed it, LOVED IT!!! What more could I ask, being with my two best friends, no rain, enough wind to keep me cool (the wind was actually a blessing for me), and a great time. We have also raised over £1000.