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I love running in Central London, and I don’t even mind running in the cold (or rain) so I was excited about having Cancer Research’s Winter Run as my first race of 2016 in my diary…HOWEVER….I didn’t actually do much training in preparation. Well I did lots of cross training, just very few runs…even to the point where I can’t even locate my Garmin (still)

The build up in The Clubhouse (our online running club) was great, there would be about 15 of us doing this event, with more planned for the Manchester event later this month and many more from the wider Too Fat to Run Community doing them too. I knew I couldn’t back out, even if I wanted to (ooohhh the pressure).

image4Plus I’d recently had a meeting with the nice folk at Human Race (The organisors of the event) and they had kitted me out in some wonderful Winter Race UK merchandise...let me tell you their hoodie is A-M-A-Z-I-N-G with its fur lining, and the wolly hat was a godsend come race day.

Rain. Rain and more Rain not Snow was the forecast.

So when race morning arrived I knew what to expect and layered up to ensure I didn’t catch a cold, and I made my way to Charing Cross to meet the gang, at 8.45 I found them all huddled under a shop doorway trying to keep warm and dry.

Everyone seemed to be in good spirits and we made our way to the loos (of which there were plenty) and bag drop, ooops I mean igloo bag drop, it was hard not to get into the spirit of things, and as we walked down to the start line we posed for a group picture with a friendly polar bear.

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The organisation seemed very slick, and with the start village moving to Trafalgar Square it was all very exciting…I almost forgot I was completely under prepared for the running bit, you see I say this all the time “I love everything about running apart from the actual bloody running”

And then we were off.

I love the wave system they use at this race, its a bit frantic in the first minute or so and then you find your pace and then 5 or 6 minutes later the faster runners from the wave behind catch you up, its perfect as you don’t feel like you are at the back for a change. The first few kilometers were good fun with lots of crowds, I spotted Jo Pavey flying towards the finish on the opposite side of the road and shouted “Go Jo” which scared her a little I think, I noticed how fast these guys were going especially some kid who looked about 11 or something.

I realised quite soon into the race that my Too Fat to Run hoodie needed to come off, by 3K I wish I could have removed more layers as I heated up. so the gloves come off and were shoved down my bra, and I rolled my sleeves up and just got on with it.

Without my Garmin I had no idea how I was doing time wise, but every time I wanted to stop or when going up hill (of which there were hardly any) I just slowed down a bit. There was plenty of support from other runners, I even got a high five from Superman. My favourite costume had to go to Olaf, I wanted to shout out something witty, but by the 8 kilometer mark I didn’t have the brain capacity.

The route was different from last year and I must admit I missed Embankment a little, but the windy route round bits of London you don’t often get to was a real treat, the water stop in the Guildhall was genius.

I had every intention of walking bits of this race, I had even considered waring one of my “walking is part of the race plan” vests but somehow I found myself not wanting to stop. The support from my ladies and also other runners with “I love your blog” or “you can do this” kept me going, and I figured I would just see if I could get to the end without having to walk.

At one point when it got really hard I thought about my mum who was recently given the all clear from breast cancer after going through surgery over Xmas, and as coincidence would have it a lady with the same name on her shirt ran past (freaky), and I thought do you know what I’m gonna do this for Mum, and I simply kept plodding.

With about a kilometer to go, one of my ladies Laura caught me up and said we were looking at a 1 hour 15 finish at this rate, WHAT??? I couldn’t believe it, but my legs by this point were really hurting, especially my left calf muscle. She sped up after a while and I focussed on not passing out or being sick. The last 500 meters felt like torture the finishing gantry just seemed to be getting further and further away.

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But I did it…I ran my first 10K in 1 hour 18 minutes and 45 seconds with just a short walking break to take off my jumper. (In the picture I don’t even look that wrecked, whats going on?)

I had a fine old time and can’t wait to do it all over again in 2017, what a way to start your racing year for 2016, now I am thinking “what other races can I do now?”

Well done to all the organisors, and to all of the runners, it was such a relaxed and joyful experience and a real mixture of running abilities which made it even more special. The money which is raised for Cancer Research through events like this each year is critical for finding a cure for cancer, something that is more close to my heart than ever these days.

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If you would like to take part in the Manchester Winter Race, use code TFTR3 for a £3 discount off entry, we will have a team of TFTR runners at that event, so look out on the Facebook Page for details of our pre race meet up. Clubhouse member Sandy Grey will be guest blogging about the event too, look out for her as she’s a real blast.

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