If someone had told me, a little over three months ago, that I would be running a 10K, I'd have most likely laughed in their face. I was that kid at school who always made the cross country team only to come last in the race. As soon as I was able to quit running I did and while I've made many attempts to resurrect what little running ability I had over the years, it has never quite stuck. That is until now.
When Nike's PR team at Exposure approached me to run We Own The Night at the end of January, I'd been looking to work with Nike for a while, so I seized the opportunity and, without much thought to the actual race itself, replied that I'd love to.
We Own The Night kicked off in February with an event for press and bloggers. We had to hunt down a locker with our names on that contained a bag full of some of the finest Nike running gear. Much to my horror, we were also asked to run on a treadmill to have our running style analysed, so that we could fitted with the most suitable Nike running trainers, in the middle of the event. After supportive words from the Equinox Gym personal trainers, I left full of inspiration and geared up to get out and run in all my new smart running get up. I can't stress enough how important your running equipment is. The trainers that support you best, the correct size running bra plus the right support in the right places from your running tights can make all the difference.
The only thing left to do was to actually begin running. I've never been unfit; I've always gone to the gym a couple of times a week so, I figured it wouldn't be too much of a challenge. How wrong I was. When I first began training for We Own The Night back in mid-February, I couldn't even run 1K without having to walk part. I don't want to go into all of the ins and outs of the first month but it was really bloody hard work, took a lot of perseverance and many a Nike Training Club to get me on my way.
I was soon running 5K without stopping but it would take me 45 minutes to complete that distance. Then one day it sort of just clicked. I was tired and bored but I got to 5K and didn't feel like I needed to collapse for the first time and I kept going. I didn't attempt running 10K until about four weeks ago and when I did, it left me disappointed at the time that I managed it in. I probably would have given up before but with the prospect of the race in a few weeks, I had to pick myself up and keep giving it a go. I ran 10K in 1 hour and 3 minutes a few days before the race and even though I was determined that I'd run 10K in under an hour come race day, I realised that this just might not be a possibility and eased up on myself a little, thinking back to how far I'd come in such a short space of time.
The atmosphere on entering Victoria Park on Saturday evening was electric. High on adrenaline (and for me, mainly nerves), thousands of women gathered in front of the We Own The Night stage as the Nike and Equinox Gym trainers warmed us up in preparation for our run. We filtered through to our various wristband lanes, took a quick race line selfie and then, alongside the likes of Paula Radcliffe, Lorraine Candy and thousands of other runners, we were off!
As the beat blasted through my headphones, looking ahead and seeing a sea of turquoise t-shirts running ahead was a surreal experience. While most of us seemed to have stuck on our Nike Running apps, there were huge kilometre markers around the course that doubled up as our speed trackers for the run. As we pounded the park, we were greeted by a few steel jazz bands, a light forest as well as a couple of light tunnels that livened up our run.
It was the hardest I've run to date. The closer I got to the race during my 12 week lead up, the challenge I had set myself of coming in to finish under an hour seem more and more unlikely. So, coming in at just under an hour on race day granted me an indescribable euphoria. The after party wasn't so bad either.
After all these weeks of hard graft, and much to my surprise, it doesn't look like I'll be hanging up my running shoes any time soon. And to all of you umming and ahhing whether or not you should start running - go on, just do it.
All photographs courtesy of Nike