Until last weekend, I hadn’t taken part in a race since my last sports day at high school, which was probably about 8 years ago. I’ve always liked athletics (albeit mainly when I was watching it on TV) and was an OK sprinter but, even though I would often do cross country races with the school, long distance running was never really my thing. I remember doing one cross country race (which, looking back, was definitely the point where I thought ‘screw this’) that had me so numb with the cold that I hadn’t even realised that halfway through the race, amid the deep squelchy mud we had to trod our little legs through, I’d lost a shoe. I then had to walk around this stupid great big field, shivering like anything, with a coach full of kids watching and giggling at me as I tried to find my trainer in the swamp somewhere. Yeah. You’d probably be put off too.
Over the last few years however I managed to rediscover my love for fitness. I’ve become an avid gym goer, I created Anna Vitality, my health and lifestyle blog, and I train four- five times a week, mixing up my workouts and classes regularly to keep myself motivated. Although, cardio and running were always very much, shall we say, ‘uninvited’ to my fitness regime.
But all of this inadvertently changed when at the end of last year something pretty terrible happened. On November 8th 2016 a colleague of mine and friend took his own life. It was completely unexpected, not that I suppose suicide ever really is ‘expected’, and the shock of it had a really horrible impact on me. I spent weeks, if not months, thinking why and what if.
At the funeral, we were told about ‘CALM’, the Campaign Against Living Miserably, a charity of which encourages men to talk about their feelings and challenges a culture within which seemingly prevents men from seeking help when they need it….and I just wished I’d known about it before. Who knows, it might’ve saved him.
So, ‘how does this link up with running a half marathon’ you must be thinking?
Well, not long after losing Mike, I was asked by a fellow fitness enthusiast if I’d ever consider doing an organised race of any sort? A 10K, The Race For Life? But, as the humiliating lost-muddy-trainer-episode arose from my unconscious mind, I just shrugged off the idea and changed the subject. But that evening I thought about it. What if I DID? What if I went out of my comfort zone and put my determined fitness ethic towards training for a major running event? What if I entered a half marathon? What if I did it to fundraise for CALM?
Overcome with inspiration, that night I signed up for the Cardiff Half Marathon and the next day, my training begun. Six months and 251 kilometres of training later (yep, 251K) and I’m writing this. I’m overwhelmed to say that I raised a total of £707 for CALM and I completed the Cardiff Half in 2.15 hours, beating my estimated time by quarter of an hour. It was the most amazing experience and it just proves you really can do anything you put your mind to.
For half marathon training, top tips and diet plans make sure you check out the other blog posts in this category. For now, I’d like to say a big thank you again to everyone who sponsored me and I’ll see you at next years race!