You may remember my post from the 28 April about my Couch 2 5K and the subsequent Park Run graduation. Well so much has happened in my running journey since then – honestly it’s been quite a whirlwind. So I thought it was time to tell you more….
Long post alert – but there’s so much to tell you! As I said before, I had originally decided not to post much about my running adventures on my blog. Mostly because it is a baking blog and I didn’t think people would be so interested. How wrong could I be?
I’ve been totally overwhelmed by the amount of people who have contacted me wanting to know more about what’s been happening with my running journey so I’ve decided to make it a regular feature.
You can read about the start of my running journey in this post, but as you’ve probably gathered by now I’m visually impaired. I have very limited sight in my right eye and severe tunnel vision in the left. I describe my vision as looking through bubble wrap. I’m not too bad if you are stood in front of me, but anything more than an arms length away and it’s all a complete blur!
I’ve been running since February 2018 with a fantastic guide called Corin. We’ve become a team and I can’t stress how important it is to have trust in your guide and for them to know you!
My original goals were to get fit, improve my mental health and well being and not fall over!
These goals grew into being able to run a mile, two miles etc. Then we decided to try and use our experiences to inspire others to either run or to become a guide runner and although we only started out with the aim of completing a Couch to 5K programme and then taking part in Park Run it’s turned in to so much more!
We are now on a path towards the 2019 Virgin London Marathon having being offered a place to run for the Guide Dogs for the Blind.
We know we won’t be able to complete this journey alone. We also know that we have a really tough road ahead and that we will need the support of all of our family, friends and of course you guys – but we are absolutely determined to do it!
Here are a few highs and lows of the journey so far and some of the lovely people who have been helping us!
Corin and I on that first Park Run – I was terrified but what an amazing support the other Park Runners and High Vis Heroes were (and still are)! April also saw me having to make friends with the treadmill as I wasn’t able to run so much with Corin due to my work commitments!
Hubby Mark (who had done no running at this point) steps in on our hols to help keep my fitness levels up. We did some very hot and sweaty run/walks by the sea in Mexico!
June turned out to be an incredibly busy month!
Back from hols on the 2nd of June I did a Park Run, it wasn’t one of the best. For some reason I just felt terrible – but Corin got me through it!
He really is an amazing guide and a HUGE support to me!
Then came our 10K race on June 10th.
Knowing that we would need to up our game and distance massively to be marathon ready and also knowing it would take me a really long time to build that up Corin and I decided to enter a race!
Now Corin is a seasoned marathon runner, but me… well up until I went on holiday the furthest I had run was 3.2 miles. The race was 10K (which is 6.2 miles) – I can hear you all shouting MAD WOMAN what are you thinking!!.
One thing I’ve not said to you up until this point is that when I run I really can’t see anything at all other than colour and blur. It’s incredibly hard and often gives me terrible motion sickness.
BUT determined not to give in to it just as soon as I came back of hols Corin and I had a little practice and I did manage to get to 5 miles. What I haven’t said is that I literally got back from holiday one weekend and ran the race two weekends later! I was incredibly nervous, but it was amazing… It did turn out to be a very hot and hilly race, but we did it! Here’s a few pictures from the day.
11 June – Run Alcester’s first Couch 2 5 K group started!
Corin and his wife Liza founded a running club in Alcester called Run Alcester. It’s a really friendly club and has been going for a few years now. The members of the club decided to put on a free couch to 5k course in a park in Alcester. I really wanted to give something back so my hubby Mark and I volunteered to go along and help out. Unexpectedly Mark also decided to participate – which really surprised me as when I first started out running he really wasn’t going to do any at all!
Also, before I started running I would never have had the confidence to help out with something like this either!
I think we were all surprised at how many keen people turned up. Well over 60 and almost all of them are still coming along and we are on week 6 this week – AMAZING!
16 June saw some Park Run tourism in Stratford-upon-Avon where I got a personal best time!
23 June gave me a real surprise – hubby Mark registered for Park Run and stepped in as my guide whilst Corin was away!
Mark guides me around all the time. I’d be totally lost without him. I’m quite good when I know somewhere or it’s familiar to me, but I couldn’t ever run by myself.
Mark knows how much running has helped me and also how much I love taking part in Park Run. It’s such a lovely atmosphere. But Corin was away so I’d built myself up towards doing a Saturday morning on the treadmill. At the time there were no other guide runners in my local area so I really thought I wasn’t going to be able to run.
I couldn’t believe it when he came home from work on the Friday and said, ‘I’ve registered for Park Run and I’ll run with you!’ He’d even printed off his barcode. He was only on the second week of Couch 2 5 K and he ran nearly the whole way around the Arrow Valley Park Run course. I was so proud of him.
26 June – the first big set back
It’s not all been a happy and wonderful journey. Although mostly up until 26 June apart from a couple of tough runs it had been really fun but the evening of the 26 June almost made me think I couldn’t do it!
Corin and I decided to do a long run, we were aiming for 6 miles or more but I actually only managed 4 and I walked quite a large chunk of it!
It was very hot – but we’d ran in the heat before. It was quite honestly awful, we had a near miss with a bike (Corin was amazing and literally threw himself in front of me). Corin said the man on the bike just wasn’t paying attention and had ear buds in so couldn’t hear Corin. I don’t think it was this that made it a bad run, it was the fact that I just felt so horrid – it was a particularly bad motion sickness day. I felt like I was on a ship the whole time and I came away feeling very low. But I picked myself up, revisited the goals I’d set myself when I started this journey and basically gave myself a good talking to! Here’s my social media post from that night.
July 2018 a mixed bag of fab and not so fab!
Corin and I got off to a good start in July with our usual Saturday Park Run, I’ve also done a couple of very hot and sweaty treadmill runs which have been brilliant – but then DISASTER STRUCK!
Here’s the not so fab!
It was bound to happen sooner or later where one of us would sustain an injury. Sadly it’s Corin who’s had a nasty ham string injury. I know he was devastated, not just because of our training schedule, but also because of the couch 2 5 K group and the fact that him and his wife are supposed to be doing a race in a few weeks. He’s literally on strict orders not to run. I felt so sorry for him.
But he encouraged me to keep on going on the treadmill and Mark and I have carried on helping out (and running with) the Run Alcester Couch to 5 K group. But I do miss running with Corin as we are a team, but it’s visually important to our plan that his injury gets better!
Heres the fab
Now as I said earlier in my post, when we knew we wanted to continue to run together, we decided to try and use our experiences to inspire others to either run or to become a guide runner. Lots of people have asked us over the months how to help or get involved, which is great. I can’t take the credit for this as I didn’t organise it but I know we inspired a few people to attend the course!
On 12 July – quite a large number of people from our local area attended a guide running course put on by British Blind Sport – how amazing is that? Well done everyone. There are now loads of guide runners so no one will have to go through what I did trying to find one!
Even better is that one of the ladies who attended the course is also a member of Run Alcester and she messaged me offering to run with me as she knew Corin was injured. We settled on Park Run on 14 July.
It’s a bit strange contemplating running with someone other than Corin, I actually feel guilty even thinking about it. We are a team and this is our journey – but as I said earlier we knew we wouldn’t be able to do it alone, and to be honest, it’s unrealistic to think we could.
So on Saturday 14 July I met up with the lovely Ruth at Arrow Valley. We had a bit of a practice first where I told her about my vision, how I liked to run and although I know she was nervous she soon relaxed into it.
It’s funny because a few months ago I never would have felt brave enough to run with anyone other than Corin (or my husband Mark) and I’m not going to pretend that I wasn’t nervous. But like Ruth, I soon relaxed into it. Ruth had always wanted to act as a guide and she did an amazing job. It’s very important to me when running to have chatter and descriptions of what’s around me. It helps me focus and also keeps me motivated and Ruth listens to what I wanted and did just that. She kept me safe despite the course being in reverse! I know she enjoyed the experience. I’m just amazed that people like Ruth and Corin offer to give up their time to help someone like me! I’m in awe.
Another really great thing happened on 14 July – Corin and I were asked to help out after the Arrow Valley Park Run to give a talk and taster session on guide running. Now with Corin being injured he couldn’t guide. But we both gave a little talk about our experience, then Rachel – the race director from Arrow Valley Park Run set some exercises for people to do so they could understand what it was like for people with visual impairments.
I was also absolutely delighted when another visually impaired person, well actually he’s totally blind, came along and will soon be walking the route – AMAZING! Here are some pictures from the event.
Thank you for reading this post – especially if you’ve read right to the end. Now that we are all up to date I’ll make sure to post more regularly so you can all follow my running adventures on our journey to the London Marathon in 2019.