I ended my last post saying that if it hadn't been for Thinking Slimmer then I never would have taken part in the Great South Run and I shall pick up that story from here.
One of the keys to Thinking Slimmer's success is that it gets you to set yourself goals. Your goals can be weight or dress size related but it also encourages you to set goals around things which will become easier or more fun to do as you lose weight. It won't be any surprise to know that one of my goals is around running.
Having completed the 5K in June, I had set myself a goal of taking part in a 10K race by December 2011. One day having got back from a training run I tweeted something about how I'd done and got a response from Sandra asking if I'd like to join the Thinking Slimmer team that were taking part in the 10 mile Great South Run in October. One of the other 'Thinking Slimmers', Darin McCloud that I've mentioned previously, had set himself this goal and the Thinking Slimmer team had decided to support him by joining in.
Now 10 miles is quite a lot further than 10K but I do like a challenge. So without thinking about it for too long I accepted Sandra's invitation and set about training to run 10 miles rather than 6.2 a whole 2 months earlier than I'd intended to!
I actually really enjoyed the training, it was great to keep up with how others were doing and share stories of how we felt in the run up to the big day. Each Sunday as I went out for my long run I was breaking into new territory, running further and for longer than I had once ever thought I would be able to. The day I completed my first 10 mile run is one I'll never forget - I was so proud of how far I'd come and it gave my confidence a huge boost to know that I would definitely complete the distance on the day.
So, on Friday 28th October my husband and I left London for Portsmouth for the weekend so that I could join the 23999 others running the race with me on Sunday. We enjoyed looking around Portsmouth on the Saturday as we'd never been before
However, as Saturday progressed I started to feel a bit under the weather and by the time I went to bed I had the startings of a miserable cold. I was so cross - months of training for the race and I had to come down with something the night before!
On Sunday morning I woke feeling quite under the weather. If it had been a normal Sunday I wouldn't have gone out on my long run but I decided that it was just the start of a cold and I wasn't going to let it spoil the day. So at just after 9am we found our way to the Charity Village where I met Darin for the first time in the flesh. It was great to meet him after months of chatting on Facebook and Twitter - he looked so different to some of the photos that I'd seen of him - he'd lost so much weight!
As the clocked ticked down to the start of the race we made our way over to the starting area for our wave. I started to feel quite nervous. I knew I could do the distance but I'd never taken part in anything this big and as I wasn't feeling 100% I was worried about how I'd do. We lined up for another team Thinking Slimmer photo - we'd now been joined by Trevor as well
The final member of the team to arrive was Lorraine, Darin's diabetic consultant who had been the person to suggest to him that he should take part in the race. As I said to her later, at about mile 8 I think - "this is all your fault then?"
At just after 11.15am our green wave set off, by this time I was excited and ready to run. By a stroke of luck I managed to see my husband just before we went over the starting line and it was lovely to have a last minute smile and cheer of support from him.
We had decided that we would use a run/walk strategy for the race. Running for around 10 mins and then walking for one to recover. I was a little apprehensive about this as I'd never tried it in training but Lorraine assured me that it would help me to achieve a better time, so I went with it.
The first couple of miles were really crowded, the atmosphere was brilliant with the crowd cheering and people hanging out of their windows waving and shouting encouragement as we went past. The route took us through the historic dockyard and past HMS Victory where there was even a brass band playing!
After about the 3rd mile, I realised that we were a little ahead of Darin. I think Lorraine and Trevor must have agreed between them that she would run with me and that Trevor would run with Darin because before I knew it she was asking me what time I'd like to aim for and encouraging me to pick up the pace for a bit.
We got to the 5 mile mark in a good time, I was feeling OK and the run/walk strategy was definitely working. We pushed on through mile 6 and I was amazed when Lorraine told me that we'd got to the 10K mark in an hour and 14 mins, 6 mins faster than I'd ever managed in training.
Mile 6-7 is when it started to feel tough for me, my legs felt tired, I could tell I wasn't well and I think the early pace started to take its toll. But we pushed on through to mile 8. At this point the course takes a turn out onto the seafront. We were greeted with a wall of wind and rain coming straight into our faces. It felt like running through treacle. The hardest mile of the whole race without a doubt.
By this time I was exhausted, I just wanted the finish line to appear in front of me, but I was given a massive boost when out of nowhere my husband appeared by the side of the road, cheering me on. He took this picture, the smile on my face is no reflection at all of how I was feeling at this point!
Before my longer there was suddenly only 400m to go and Lorraine was encouraging me to give it everything I had. I crossed the finish line in 2 hours, 1 min and 58 seconds - over 6 mins faster than I had ever run in training. I was elated, relieved and exhausted all at the same time.
Lorraine and I collected our water, medals and goody bag and we made our way back to the Charity Village to meet our other halves and find out how Darin and Trevor had got on. After a very welcome cup of tea and a banana from the lovely people in the Diabetes UK I saw Darin coming across the field looking pretty much how I felt. He'd done brilliantly - it was an amazing achievement and his friends and family were obviously brimming with pride.
I want to say 'thank you' to Darin, Sandra, Trevor and Lorraine. Without you I wouldn't have taken part in this race, proved to myself that I'm capable of running 10 miles and had a fantastic experience. Most of all I want to say 'thank you' to my husband, for being so supportive of what I'm doing, for carrying my bags in the rain and for magically popping up in the crowd, cheering me on at exactly at the point I needed to see him.
This is me, home showered and changed in the T-shirt and medal. Tired and achey but very proud indeed.