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Now I live in the city of London, and of course there are hills…but believe you me, I do everything I can to avoid them.

I know, I know, hills are good for me, and help me develop strength and endurance…I just dislike them OK???

Well yesterday I couldn’t have avoided them even if I had tried, and I think in many ways I was a bit in denial about…

A – How many there would be
B – How steep they would be

So yesterday alongside two of my lovely Too Fat to Run Clubhouse ladies we tackled Cancer Research’s Tough 10K a brand new series of epic 10k runs taking on some of the UK’s toughest terrain.

I had opted for the Epping one, as it was closest to me…and I’ve been to Epping Forest before right, so how hard could it be?

img_7264I arrived with like minutes to spare after missing my bus and having to wait 20 minutes for the next one. Its just as well really because this gave me no time at all to panic….or get cold (You see all 3 of us in our TFTR headbuffs…brilliant for keeping your ears warm)

When I arrived Egle and Liza had been there for a while and had been eyeing up the other runners

There are no other fat runners said Liza with a smile

She was kind of right…the crowd was a mix of burly young men and whippet like women from the looks of it, however once we had started I realised we had been too quick to judge, and there were in fact participants of all abilities and shapes and sizes…but don’t get me wrong this was no Race for Life.

We started in waves of about 50 which took some of the pressure off but as the penultimate wave I knew we would be somewhere at the back before long.

The first kilometer or so was lovely. Off road through the forest a bit uneven but pretty much flat and I was able to maintain a nice steady pace. I had predicted a lot of walking for this event because CrossFit and a tough parkrun in the days leading up to this had rendered my quads painful to touch, but actually this first section felt quite easy….and then we turned and encountered the first hill.

I tried running up, but it was no good…I had to walk. And as I looked ahead everyone was doing the same.

img_7267Another twist in the course and before me I saw a huge slanted meadow and a trail of runners zigzaging up and down it keeping in between the small pink flags, it looked very strange. Now I dislike running on grass so I didn’t do much running on the way up, but my heart rate was high and despite the brisk morning I felt hot in just a tshirt….my fleece tied around my waist.

At the top of the hill was a marshal and a sign saying “Selfie Spot, Check out that view” and boy what an awesome view it was too.

The down hill bit was nice, I love running down hill.

It was at this point I started to put a bit of distance between me and my two ladies….although throughout they were only a couple of minutes behind me. After being overtaken by all the speedier runners right at the start I found myself running most of this event by myself, and I was fine with that.

The uphill bits were challenging…like really challenging, but I kept putting one foot in front of the other and digging deep, and whenever there was a downhill bit I let gravity play its part and ran as fast as I could to make up time. I got a bit philosophical at one point on the course and drew parallels to trail running and life…

Its not about going out full pelt
There will be fast bits and slow bits
Positive mindset will help you enormously
Keep stepping even when it gets hard
Take the uphills bits steady
Relax a bit when you get a chance
Let momentum take you on the downhills
You will get there in the end

It was a beautiful morning, and Epping Forest was just sublime. I don’t know why I don’t run here more often…probably the hills.

There was one hill at about 7K that was a monster…it was like a flight of stairs it was so steep…but there was an awesome marshall cheering you at the top…so it kind of made up for the agony.

img_7275As 10Ks go this was pretty tough…but time wise I was doing OK. My average time for a flat 10K is around 1.10-1.15 so I was thinking 1.40 would be around the time it would take me to get round. But with just a kilometer to go I looked at my watch and realised I was on 1.25 or something…and as I turned out of the forest on to a grassy field I could actually see the finish line.

I knew I couldn’t dip under 1.30 but I knew I could get close…so I upped the pace a bit and ran as fast as I could. A lovely couple who were cheering on the sidelines helped me keep up the momentum, and as I passed I heard her say to her husband

Hasn’t she done well?

Which made me laugh, and I sped off ever closer to the blue inflatable finishing bridge.

I dipped in at 1 hour 31 and 53 seconds…which I still can not believe.

This was one of the toughest races I have done in a long time. I loved the format. I loved how it has the potential to introduce runners to trail running and even cross country (there I said it) to those who might not normally consider this kind of running.

Liza came in a few minutes after me, and then Egle and there were still runners out there.

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It was brilliant, and I would recommend it to any of you ladies, regardless of your experience of fitness level. There are events taking place all over the country (We have a TFTR team in wales for example, and one of our Scottish ladies doing the Edinburgh one too) With three levels of toughness available, you can choose your ultimate running challenge at a range of iconic venues across the UK this winter.

Read more here

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If you would like to get more involved with Too Fat to Run and take part in our race meet ups please think about joining The Clubhouse our online running club. With 40K followers on social media it is really difficult to communicate details of all of our meet ups etc, but in the Clubhouse we have less than 200 women and it is much easier to coordinate. Its a great way to meet new people and to challenge yourself in terms of your running.

Find out how it all works here

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