My last race of the four in a row was Leeds Half Marathon.
It was a scorching hot day in May and the longest distance I had ever run, I was very nervous.
Would I be last ?
Would I be able to run it all ?
Would I finish ?
Would I remember everything?
I laid my kit out the night before, paid a visit to the lovely ladies at Elland Road who put my name on my shirt for the tiny fee of £6.
All ready to go.
I woke up on the morning with a headache, earache, blocked nose and swollen glands. The last thing I needed was to be ill. I took a handful of tablets to cover every cause of the symptoms, not forgetting the all important sun cream for my delicate skin, and set off. I arrived at the museum in the centre of Leeds to loiter around with the other Lakers until it was time to go. I wasn’t alone in being a bit worried, a few of the Lakers were also doing their first half. We had lots of photos and nervous toilet calls and then the faster runners made their way to the start. People everywhere.My lovely Twinnie buddies.
Obligatory Laker’s photo on the steps.I remembered my sun cream.
Before long it was the yellow pen’s turn and off we went. The lovely Jeni had agreed to keep me company and we set off together, along with some of the other Lakers and South Leeds Sisters. We set off through the streets of Leeds which were lined with spectators. The crowds thinned out after the city centre but were equally as enthusiastic.
I was amazed at the support along the way, children high fiving everyone, music playing (I will never be able to listen to Eye of The Tiger in the same way again), there were even some familiar faces.
Stonegate Road was evil, the longest horriblest hill I have ever known and even though I knew it was coming I still expected it to be flatter than it was. Thank god for Jenna and the Jaffa Cakes. After the roundabout at the top I didn’t see anyone I knew for a long time and started to lose my bearings, I don’t know that side of Leeds very well and was leaving the familiar behind.
There was a nice downhill section followed by a long, slow drag up the ring road and as I looked up I decided this was a definite run/walk section so I used lampposts as my markers. Jeni and I ran at our own pace and passed each other at various points. This was around the time we were separated, at the time, I didn’t know that she could see me for long after I lost her.
We ran through a housing estate full of lovely people with hose-pipes to cool us down, water and orange segments to keep us hydrated and sweeties to keep us fuelled. Oranges have never tasted so sweet.
As we hit the main drag back down towards Kirkstall, I was seriously flagging and decided to carry on with the run/walk method. I had a little chat with various people along the way. A lady with a camera who was very excited to see my Laker’s top and promised to send the picture to Ewan.
Sing along now “smile, though your legs are breaking”
A lovely lady offered me some water, the nice man in the wheelchair who didn’t mind me passing him on the uphill (probably because he knew that he would finish way in front of me after the long downhill). The Running Angels who very kindly ran or walked with anyone who was struggling.
Morrison’s marked familiar territory, it’s part of the Leeds 10k route and I have run that twice before. I also knew that it marked the point where it was “only one more parkrun” to the end. There were more people watching along this stretch and I saw more lovely, familiar faces shouting and waving. After the last mountain climb to the final stretch I was really feeling tired and ran a little way with two lovely ladies who were running for the NSPCC, they pushed me to keep running the last bit.
The last bit from the courts round to the finish were fantastic.
The Lakers stood at the side of the road with the sign that Daryl had made, sorry to Phil for worrying him when he thought I had lost Jeni.
Daryl and one of his signs.
My Dad crossing the road in front of me, I don’t know where I found the breath to shout him !
Sadie’s mum, who I almost didn’t recognise at the start but I was prepared by the end.
Elaine from work, there to support her daughter and gave me a wave.
Then round the corner and there they were, my ever present cheerleaders Betty, Ray and Liz.
It was amazing, exhausting, hot and very emotional.
The lovely, proud Lakers ladies.Equally lovely South Leeds Sisters. Those girls have a lot to answer for !
I collected my medal and goodie bag, then I hit the pub. Massive cheer from all the others who had finished way before me. A well deserved pint and food was consumed, I needed a little bit of help with my chips from Rhys. Then I went to watch Hunslet and get suitably drunk.
No explanation for this is needed.
Will I do it again ? Probably.
That’s 10 of the 12 races completed for my charity challenge.