I really wanted to challenge myself to complete an event before the year was out. There’s always been something I love about pinning a race number on – the adrenaline that goes with it, the excited chatter on the start line, the sense of accomplishment afterwards. And I thought entering an event would help with my weight loss post-birth, help me get fit and give me that little bit of a sparkle and buzz back that I get from competing.
Finding a Race
The first thing was to find a race. I started looking in May before Bobby had even arrived. I found a couple of end of season triathlons; “Chris, do you think I’ll be able to do a triathlon by September.” I found a couple of championships; “Chris do you think I’d be fit enough to race the National Duathlon Champs in October”. And then I found this – the Brecon Beacon 10 mile trail run in December. As it transpires this was perfect for 2 reasons – 1) My return to running took much longer than I expected so this gave me more time, and 2) I’ve come to realise that I don’t want to do the races I used to do, they were fabulous and I loved them but I’m ready to try new things.
Roping some friends in
Good friends never let you do crazy things….alone! Jess and Sophie liked the look of the race too so they signed up to spur me on. In our typical style we left it until 2 days before the race to get our plans/logistics sorted but it went really well and it was lovely to have friends to take some mid-race selfies with!
Getting kitted out
I’ve always looked at pictures of runners running with backpacks in the past and thought “they look cool!” and “what on earth is in their backpack?”. Well I finally have a picture of my own and have got to grips with exactly what you need to pack. The kit list was crazy – emergency foil blanket, whistle, fluids, thermals, waterproof, hat etc. We packed some emergency jelly babies (they went down a treat!) and even borrowed some posh looking running backpacks that have a bladder in. Initially I thought this was so you could go for a wee on the run without stopping – but actually it’s so you can drink on the go! Handy that! Thanks Ali & Jen for the loan of the bags!
Training for the Event
In the past few months I’ve been back running I’ve been calling it exercise or activity as I didn’t feel fast or fit enough to call it training. But actually with a little help from some very special people they’ve helped me find my mojo. Thank you Greg for answering my 100 questions and also to Ali & The Tribe for helping me find my mojo, it’s really put a spring back in my step! My running mum buddies (Em, Heather & Heather) have also been great as we take it in turns to do some intervals whilst the other recovers at the buggies. It’s a fabulous way to balance having a new baby with exercise. And of course my 3 x Buggyfit classes a week have helped me get stronger and stronger, and taken my total weight loss now to 4 stone.
Arriving at Registration
Sophie and Jess stayed over the night before the race and we got up at 5:15am to make the 2 hour journey over. It was quite funny getting ready all tip-toeing round the house so as not to wake Bobby – the amount of times he’s woken us at that time!!! Initially it had been my vision that Bobby would be there with us and give me a big cuddle when I crossed the line but in the weeks leading up to the race we realised this probably wasn’t the best option as he might be bored or cold and there’d be a lot of hanging round.
When we got to the event there was a small building where everyone was registering. We were given our numbers and a map (a map?!? My navigational skills are terrible!). We sat trying to work out how to work the bladders (the ones in the bag – more complicated than they look!) and it wasn’t long before we were heading off! The race briefing had said it wasn’t your usual 10 mile run and could take some people up to 4 hours. Oh dear God!
So off we set. Along the canal, up ‘cobbled hell’ – a long drag that was – as it says – cobbled hell. Up a ridiculously steep climb that most were walking up (cue jelly baby fueling!). Up even more climbs, over fields, up up up, until we were eventually on the top of the Beacon and at our first check point. Cheers from the marshalls as we set off against ridiculous headwinds. We were literally next to each other and shouting and we still couldn’t hear what was being said! We were holding a constant pace – nothing fast – but at least we were moving. Eventually at check point 2 before we began the descent. Running downhill is actually harder than I thought. Eventually we hit Bog/Swamp City. The stagnant water stank! It was over knee high and went on forever. Initially we tried to run round it, but we figured the best way was to just go straight through it. Sophie did have a Vicar of Dibley Moment when she stepped into a puddle and literally disappeared! Onwards we went, over trees, under trees, down mudslides, along a really wierd twiggy section until eventually we retraced our steps back along cobbled hell and back along the canal. Miracle 1 was that we hadn’t got lost. Miracle 2 was there was no need for our extra layers of space blankets (it was much warmer than I expected) and Miracle 3 was that we finished! All 3 of us! Hand in hand with some rather smug smiles! After the event Jess gave some feedback for the blog – “Sam is an absolute machine and led the way. Great fun, great company. Bring on the next ones”. (I didn’t actually lead the whole way – I just made sure I did when I saw the photgrapher hahaha!)
We didn’t hang around too long after the event. It was refreshing to not be waiting for results or worry about splits; this was all about loving the terrain, loving the scenery, a personal sense of accomplishment and sharing the moment with good friends. Once I got back home the best bit was presenting my medal to my Bobby Dazzler. He motivates me to make the most of myself, both as a Mum and as ‘Sam’. I feel chuffed to bits to have done this – the pic below shows a rather bewildered Bobby with a rather proud Mum.