Marathon Diary (2)

Well it’s been 5 weeks since my last marathon update and quite a bit has happened so I thought it would be a good idea to put it down on paper before I forget it all!  Firstly, I’ve entered a race! Not that I will be racing it, I’m just using it to get used to the competitive side of running again. It’s the Brass Monkey Half Marathon in York on 22nd January 2012 and the intention is to get round in one piece in a time of around 1.25 – 1.30. It was a great feeling to be in a position to enter and plan for a race  after my injuries through the summer but I felt that something was missing…..

I must admit, it’s great getting fit after being injured for so long as I have been. I’m not one of those people who keeps themselves in shape when I’m injured. I don’t go out for cycle rides or go to the gym. I eat. I eat pies , I eat chocolate,  have takeaways and I gain weight at an alarming rate.  It is terrible for an athlete to be like this but on the plus side, when I do start running again I start eating more healthy and the weight comes off pretty quickly. We all know how great that feels and in the last 2 weeks I’ve managed to shed almost a stone and I do feel better for it. But still I felt like there was something missing…….

Other things that I’ve enjoyed embracing while my fitness improves are the increased energy I have, I’m less tired at work and the odd late night doesn’t hurt; the better flexibility I have after a new stretching regime; fitting into certain clothes that I couldn’t get on while my weight ballooned. You get the idea. But STILL I thought that there was something missing….

As some will know, I have been a loyal servant to my club Wallsend Harriers for many many years now.  I’m not on the committee, I’m not on the coaching staff, I’m just one of the team who loves being part of something and there is nothing I like better than to cheer on and support my clubmates when they are training and competing. I will go into coaching in due course, I read up on different coaching methods almost on a daily basis and I think it’s where my destiny lies. For the time being though I just love being part of the club that has made me feel so welcome since I was 10 years old. It’s been almost 5 months since I ruptured a thigh muscle and tore a knee ligament and in this time our club has gone from strength to strength. We have a new member, Yared Hagos, an Ethiopian athlete who has started a new life in the North East of England. In his first race in Wallsend colours he won the prestigious Brampton to Carlisle 10 mile Road Race (incorporating the North of England Championships) in a superb time of 47.51. We had a great day as we also had the winner of the female event, Danielle Hodgkinson (pictured right). Stacey Rogers won a bronze and we won the ladies team title. Not a bad day! We also had our first international call up for almost 10 years when our Club Chairman Terry O’Gara was selected to run for England in an International cross county in Glasgow at 70 years young. We’ve also had numerous club records and PBs at our internal Grand Prix event. It was not until I thought about how great it is to be part of a running club when I realised ‘THAT’s the thing that’s been missing’…..

I love running, I love competing, I love being around runners. Most of all though I love to run with people. There is nothing better than being in the middle of a group of runners when you are out for a run.  I didn’t realise how much I missed it until I went for a jog last Sunday with a friend. It wasn’t fast, it wasn’t competitive, it was simply fun and I had to have more. I ran with Wallsend Harriers the following Tuesday and although my fitness still needs a lot of work (I really struggled towards the end as the rest of the gang just sauntered along!) I still enjoyed every step.

We have a great group at Wallsend, it’s a squad of hard-working, committed individuals who want to reach a high level. The training is tough but they all get stuck in and support each other along the way. In recent times, there has always been a thought in my head that if I got myself really fit then I would be the club number one again, not now.  There is no way I could keep up with some of the team and you know what, I’m thrilled about it! Not only does it take the pressure off me but it also gives me huge pleasure watching everyone improve.

Everything that has happened in recent weeks, the improvement of our runners, the team spirit and togetherness that you get in a running club, was summed up at the Home Countries Cross Country yesterday when I went to watch Terry O’Gara run for England for the first time. The weather was awful, I lost the feeling in my fingers within about 5 minutes, the wind was blustery and the sleet was hard to endure. Every step you took seemed to be into a puddle but it was all worth it to see how proud Terry and his family were when he put his England vest on for the first time. There were smiles all round, it was a great atmosphere and there was constant laughing and great camaraderie. To top it off Terry came 2nd! Days like this don’t come along very often and the only reason I could feel part of it was because I’m a member of a running club and a great one at that.

So I’ll finish off by saying that as much as I have been enjoying my slow return to fitness, it’s the support and team spirit that exists among my running club that will keep me going. Anyone out there who reads this who may be feeling stale and bored with running or feel they need something extra, get yourself along to your nearest club, you wont regret it.