Wednesday 2 October 2019

Running a Half Marathon

I have to admit, I wasn't convinced I would ever be ready but I turned up early last Sunday morning and registered my name at the Simplyhealth Great Bristol Half Marathon with the hope that my legs wouldn't let me down. I have been training for a few months with the help of my Simplyhealth plan and whilst I hadn't run 13 miles, I had reached 10 on my training and I was told if you can run 10, you can run 13.

The atmosphere was amazing and Millennium square was full of excited looking runners with numbers pinned to their t-shirts as well as partners, parents and families preparing to cheer on their loved ones. I noticed the notes on people's backs that told me a fraction of their story, why they were running or who for. I was confident my body could cope with the grueling two hour run but I was trying to make sure my mind could as well.

The sun was beating down as we lined up, I was in the green wave, and everyone was setting up soundtracks on their phones or making sure watches were ready to track the action. The crowd was full of excitement, the music was playing and it was hard not to feel enthusiastic and positive. We started, slowly at first as we edged towards the start line and then with a bounce in our steps as we crossed and begun the easiest mile of the 13. The streets were lined with people cheering us on, there were smiles everywhere and I set a time in my head of when I wanted to complete the half marathon. I had a few issues with my ankle during my training and I had used my Simplyhealth plan for physio to ensure it was strong enough to make it through. I felt no pain at the beginning which is usually the toughest bit and I was so grateful I had seen to my problem early before it escalated.

It was around mile 4 I started to lose the bounce, the heat was intense and I wasn't used to training in the sun as I tend to run in the evenings. I focused on reading people's shirts and I felt humbled and uplifted by those running in the name of Will, a little boy with a brain tumour. Everyone there had their own story, and we were running not in competition but together. By mile 9 things were getting really hard and my body was running out of energy, my pace had slowed right down but every time I saw children holding out their hands for a high five I found a little more energy, every time someone called out the number on my bib and reminded me I was doing great, I found another bit and the support from strangers, from marshalls and from the other runners kept me going even when everything felt exhausted.

I knew I was getting close to my target time when I saw the 12 mile board and the streets were full again with music and people and cheering and suddenly it said 400 metres, then 200 metres and I dragged the last bit of energy out to get across the finish line. I did it, with over a minute to spare before my aim time. 2 hours and 8 minutes and I could stop and walk, pick up my finishers pack with the medal I had more than earned and find my family to celebrate.

My daughter was so excited to come and tell me that I won and I did, because I wasn't running against the other people, I was running with them, trying to beat myself, to beat my expectations of myself and to prove to me that I could do it. I didn't care about anyone else's time, I was a winner and I was going to celebrate my success!

Back in the running village, I headed straight to the Simplyhealth stretch zone where a trained PT was leading a full stretch which I definitely needed after over 2 hours of running. You could join in halfway through the session or wait for the next one so I jumped in and stretched out my poor muscles. They got a real treat afterwards though in the complimentary massage tent and I could have fallen asleep on the table!

The running village also had a 'Rate my Gait' station where you could run on a treadmill and have it recorded and then speak to a physio or podiatrist about your results and your running style which was really interesting and has definitely given me some pointers to work on! It is such an important thing when running to understand your body and how it moves - this is such a valuable service.

Running the Simplyhealth Great Bristol Half Marathon left me feeling both completely exhausted and utterly invincible. The runners high is like nothing else and I felt so incredibly proud of myself and still do. I worked so hard to get here and I had such an amazing day in Bristol. My Simplyhealth plan has helped keep me on track with my health as I took on the commitment to train for this. It has covered my costs from dental work and optical to physio and I am sure I will be using it plenty as I want to keep up the running (although I think 10k might be my preferred distance for now!). I have definitely caught the running bug and the children really want to take part next time after watching the Simplyhealth Great Bristol half Marathon (and seeing the medal I got!). They helped me throughout my training so I think now I need to help them with theirs!


  1. YOU ARE AMAZING. I'm so impressed by your achievement and, oddly, a little bit envious? I keep meaning to give running a go...

  2. Well done you! What a fantastic achievement! x


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