A new year, a new decade and perhaps for some, a new activity…. Running!
The following, in her own words, is a very well worth reading account of one of ERC’s members, Liz Chambers’ story of her going from ‘couch to marathon’.
We will catch up on ERC results, races and goings on next time but for now please enjoy Liz’s inspirational running adventure.
“One day in January 2016 I woke up and decided enough was enough. I hated my body, my head was a mess and I wanted to get fit. I began power walking with my 9 month old in a pushchair, thinking about and obsessing with trying to achieve 20,000 steps a day. This was a tough feat with a baby, so to help fulfil this obsession my husband bought me a treadmill on eBay for 30 quid. One day, laughing to myself and turning the speed up on the treadmill, I thought that if I could run a bit I could get more steps done in less time and no one needed to see or laugh at chubby me. No one needed to know about this and if I was rubbish then I could just stop. So in April 2016, using the NHS C25k, off I went on the treadmill.
This was the day my running adventure started. I had no idea where it was going to take me or how much it was going to make my life so much happier.
In September 2016, after completing the C25K a friend suggested I ran outside with her. Blimey…this petrified me. Up to this point I had been running on the treadmill, in an old pair of trainers and wearing my husband’s t shirt and shorts. I pulled on my gear and doing what I thought I would never be able to do, I ran in the beautiful autumn countryside. In February 2017 someone suggested I joined a running club. This gave me massive fear and drew on my anxiety around large groups of people I didn’t know but I guess my life was evolving from that day, 9 months previous, where I wanted to get fit. I felt determined to change me, to change how I felt about me and needed to get out there and do something more. At this point I only ran a couple of times a week and no further than 5k but on the 2nd March 2017 I joined the Easingwold Running Club for the first time. I absolutely loved it. It was dark, no one could see my wobbly bits, we wore high vis and head torches and we were out there running. I remember feeling like I had joined a big family. No matter how fit or how fast you could run we were all there for the same reasons….to run and to enjoy it with other people.
Week after week, every Thursday I went back to the club night at The Galtres Centre. Loving it more and more, starting to make some fantastic friends and seeing my running and fitness improve massively. One night there was a mention of the Summer Road Race League…several 10k races with other clubs in the area on a Tues evening over the months of May, June and July. I felt so encouraged by the club and made a decision to enter. I thought what the heck, let’s see if I can actually survive a 10k. The first race I chose to do was our home race, the Easingwold 10k. I was so worried about doing it, I felt sick at the thought, however one of the coaches in the club, Ken Dart, put me at ease and offered to pace it with me. So the evening of 23rd May 2017 had arrived. I put on my club vest, feeling proud to be part of ERC, with a mixture of nerves, wanting to be sick, and excitement, I got myself to the start. There I found the rest of the ERC family nervously and eagerly waiting with Ken ready to talk me through the course. 7.30pm we were off. I think it was at this point I realised I was actually a runner.
So, that is where my racing started and I have come to the conclusion that I have a love hate relationship with them…The nerves are immense but the feeling at the end equals that intensity!!
In September 2017 I ran my first half marathon, the Great North Run. It was tough but I really enjoyed it. I loved the training, I loved having something to work towards and I loved the sense of achievement it gave me. Over the next year being encouraged and inspired by my club friends I began entering even more races, 10k’s, 10 miles, half marathons, road races, trail races, mixed terrain races, hardmoor races. Some in the rain, some in the blistering heat and no matter what they were, or where they were my love for running grew. In September 2018 I did a longer run with a friend who was training for the Yorkshire marathon. Those who know me will understand that I have grown up watching my Dad run marathons but had never thought that was something I might be able to do. It was at this point with my friend when I realised that perhaps this is something I can do. On the day she completed her marathon, I completed the 10 mile race. I finished this race and felt a sense that something was missing. I realised that I was jealous that I wasn’t one of those doing the marathon….so that night I got home, opened my laptop and signed up for the Yorkshire marathon 2019. What a buzz. I was so excited. I was so eager to start my training and if I could have I would have started it straight away.
Over the next few months I read running magazines, spoke to my dad and to other runners and I began plotting a training plan on a spreadsheet. I wanted to give myself as big a run up to the marathon as I could and with lots of help from Colin Fletcher from ERC I finalised my plan. 23 weeks before the marathon I got stuck in. Ticking off the runs, making sure I did the right ratio of long run to total weekly runs, with intervals, circuits, strength work and races weaving within it. I tested long runs with gels, energy bars, flapjack and peanuts. Some runs I would come home feeling sick and nearly pass out, others I would feel great. I plotted different routes with water stops to refill my bottle half way as it was the heat of the summer. Some runs I would combine with my running club night, getting a lift into Easingwold and running home and many runs I would do with my ERC friend Megan Remmer who was also training for the marathon. I ran anytime I could and I loved every part of it, watching the weeks getting ticked off on my plan becoming more and more excited about the day. Throughout all this I spent so much time worrying about something going wrong, getting an injury or breaking a leg dancing at a party. I wished I could wrap myself in bubble wrap. I began to watch what I ate, what I drank and how much sleep I was getting as I wanted to do all I could to make sure I got to the start line. In the last few weeks my weekly distance was reaching 60km and my legs started to hurt so with the marathon in sight I had regular massages to keep my legs happy to run. Then it was the taper….I needed the taper and as it happened it became a sudden one as I developed a chest infection 4 weeks before the day. With 2 weeks off running and although my chest was weak my legs felt great. With a few gesture runs the morning of the 20th October was here. I felt sick, my tummy was churning and my belief in myself had vanished. I started to feel like a running imposter and that after 5k I would have to walk. I got dressed, club vest on, running belt around my waist, porridge eaten and with my running friend Megan, off we drove to the start.
There were loads of other runners there, all ages, shapes and sizes…all ready to do the same journey as me. Several trips to the toilet and then off to the start line I went. By this point my nerves had eased and I wasn’t quite sure what I was feeling, excitement, fear and dread all rolled into one. It seemed like seconds and then we were off. The race itself was amazing. The crowds, the other runners, the sounds of pattering feet on the roads, the smell of the countryside, the out and backs…..oh yes…the out and backs. I was told about these and after the first one I was feeling smug thinking how easy that was but oh no, I had no idea what was to come. The second out and back dragged on for what felt like eternity. My legs were getting sore, understatement, they felt on fire, and my mind was questioning my legs as to whether they could get me to the finish. Chuntering to myself and telling myself over and over ‘you can do this Liz’ I got to the end of the out and back. Only 10k left. It was at this point that I looked at my watch, looked at my average pace and began to believe in myself. With every painful step I watched the km’s tick over and before I knew it I was at the last hill 400m from the finish. The support was amazing, it was exhilarating, and during those last few minutes I felt unattached to my body. Smiling from within and digging deep I crossed the finish line.
I had not prepared myself for the next bit. I was in so much pain. I didn’t know whether to sit down, lie down, walk, throw up, eat something, talk to someone or find somewhere on my own. Pulling myself together I went and collected my things from the bag drop and it was at this point that it started to dawn on me that I had just run a marathon!
It’s been strange really because I didn’t get the buzz afterwards that everyone talks about. I am not sure why but it is for this reason that I want to do it all again. All the months of hard work and the race itself have taught me a lot. I have realised I am stronger than I thought, that anxiety can be tamed and that I can achieve something amazing if I really want to. I have also learnt that being part of a club has given me this strength, along with happiness and confidence to get out there and do it. On a practical level I have learnt so many things during training and on the day that I want to put the good bits together and try and do a better job next time.
So, with this, in April this year I am running the London marathon for SENSE and hoping to raise £1700 for this amazing charity that support deafblind children and their families. Something close to my heart is their ethos that ‘life’s better when we are all connected’. It is also my Dads 25th London Marathon next year and I feel really proud to run it with him. Please feel free to visit my justgiving page www.justgiving.com/fundraising/lizchambers-runlondon.
Jonathon Harris-Douglas, Publicity Secretary