"I DID IT... I DID IT"

Two Saturdays ago, I faced my toughest challenge to date;

the Nike Women's 10K WE OWN THE NIGHT run.

It had taken me days of deliberation to sign up, and as soon as I did the panic and doubt started to set in. I started questioning why I had even signed up to it in the first place. I've never ran a couple of kilometres in my life and all of a sudden I was expected to complete a 10K course! I've always avoided any type of running activity, but now I had a reason to really push myself and hopefully overcome my fear. 

Prior to race night, I started accompanying a good friend of mine on his usual 5K runs along Tower Hill and the River Thames. This continued for 9 weeks. On my first session I struggled so badly that I ended up crying my eyes out at the 3 kilometre mark. By the end of the 9 weeks however, I was significantly better and could see the improvements that I had made. I ran 6 kilometres semi-comfortably, but was still concerned about that 10K. Had my training really been enough?

I woke up the morning of the big day feeling fretful. Knowing that I hadn't ran any further than 6K only highlighted the significant distance between what I have achieved and what I had hoped to achieve. But I couldn't back out now, so I reluctantly made my way to meet the rest of the fourfits ladies.

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We all met up outside the park and walking into the venue my heart started palpitating out of my chest! I was literally shaking all over as fear consumed my mind. I was incredibly quiet and was not my bubbly self. As much as my fourfits ladies kept reassuring me that everything was going to be ok, no words could keep my anxiety at bay. We made our way to our designated start points. Yellow and Orange band wearers were together with Green further ahead. As Kate wore a green band, she was separated from Stef, Vicki and I.

We walked to the start line and before I knew it, we were off! Once the initial crowd started dispersing I managed to find a comfortable pace where I could control my breathing.

I reached 2K and was feeling incredible! Seeing each of the kilometre post marks flashing brightly really helped me focus; "If I just make it 3K then it's only another 7K to go" I told myself. Vicki was pacing me and gave great advice throughout. Every time I tried to slow down to a walk, she would encourage me to lightly jog. This was something I could never do during training.

Reaching 3K felt amazing, I remembered how it felt breaking down at this point in my first running session, and here I was feeling better than ever! I had my girls running along side me and I was determined to not stop!

I was feeling great but after a few more kilometres, I started feeling the aches in my legs. My breathing was becoming more erratic and my whole body was beginning to shut down. My confidence was floundering and I started to wonder how I was ever going to manage the last 2 kilometres! Nevertheless I persevered through the pain and got to experience the awesomeness that is Cheer Dem Crew at 8K. Hearing the roars and cheers from Cheer Dem gave me the confidence I needed. This immediately gave me a boost and I could feel my pace and strides become stronger! I was so overwhelmed with emotion - the cheers from nameless faces and knowing I was about to complete my first ever 10K run - that I could feel myself choking up. I knew I couldn't break down now, I was too close to the finish line!

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I saw a big flashing number read ‘9’ in the distance and screamed out “Stef!!! I can see 9!”. I knew she was struggling with bad stomach pains and was finding it difficult to give it her all. So I grabbed her hand and we pushed through the last kilometre together.

Sheer adrenaline kept me going as I pushed myself to complete this race as strong as I started. I crossed the finishing line and instantly burst into tears - I was so overwhelmed and ecstatic that I had actually finished the run, that I just let all inhibitions go and allowed tears to continuously flow down my cheeks. 

It was the best feeling ever!

10 weeks ago I would have never thought I would be able to run 10K and here I was at the finish line with a time of 1 hour and 20 mins! I am so proud of myself!

My next 10K will be Sure’s Run To The Beat and I'm already feeling more confident for it.

My goal: to beat my current time!

- four the perfect dress

Natalie

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