Double victory at Race for Life 2013

It's been a few weeks since Race for Life Twilight 2013 and I'm still buzzing from the run.

Certainly the most interesting conditions I have raced in, with gale force winds, cold rain and a muddy, flooded course; but aside from a few grumbles as I shivered at the start line, I loved the challenge.

I was fairly nervous at the start: I knew I would easily complete the 5km, but I wasn't sure if I'd reach my goal of crossing the finish in under 30 minutes. Friends, running buddies and family assured me that I would fly through it, but not once in my training had I come close to anything sub-32:00. I found this frustrating. A year ago I completed the same race in 33 minutes - surely I had improved since then?

squeltch for life
Runners battling the elements at Race for Life Twilight 2013 (c) Mark Hawkins

Adding to my nerves, I quickly found myself trapped in a bottle-neck early in the race. The course looped around Swansea Marina and some sections were narrow - others wider, but with a 6 foot drop into cold, dark water. With no fence there, we all gravitated away from the slippery edges, keeping one eye on the black abyss that set off my vertigo.

Knowing very well that I wasn't ready for the sub-25:00 runners' group, I had joined the joggers, but was surprised to be overtaking from the start. I scolded myself, doubting my pacing strategy. But it felt good. Almost... easy.

Rain continued to lash down and I was greeted around some corners of the Marina by a cold, fierce wind. The lighting wasn't great, either, and I spent large sections of the run thinking about the head torch I had put off buying.

But I was loving it. The poor conditions were thrilling and I relished stomping through a flooded stretch of the route, cold water rushing over my legs and between my toes. Fellow runners shrieked and laughed, everyone was coming together to have fun, finish the race and raise funds for an important cause.

I raised £250 for Cancer Research UK, in memory of my parents. I'm proud of my contribution to support lifesaving research, and I know my mum and dad would be proud of me too.

As a slipped and sloshed across a muddy finish line, I looked at the big clock above and couldn't believe what I saw: 28 minutes 40 seconds. I had reached my sub-30 goal.

Two months on and I still grin like a fool when I think about my new personal best. It made me realise a lot about myself, including the value of self-belief. It also made me realise I can go further.

It's time to sign up for next year's races and one will be my first ever half marathon.

Thank you to everyone who sponsored me - couldn't have done it without you!


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