I am a novice runner. I’ve been running just a little over eight weeks now. Peter Middleton, Master in Charge of the Hunt and Coordinator of 'Team Shrewsbury School', told me that the most difficult thing about doing the Shrewsbury Half Marathon would be signing up for it. I think he might be right, but perhaps it would be best to ask me on Monday morning! I have received lots of advice from veteran runners who have guided me on my training and I must thank Kait Weston especially for her time in planning my training and recommending a great read –The Complete Running and Marathon Book – which has had me fascinated!
So off I went to the sports shop ‘Up and Running’ on Mardol to be put through my paces on their treadmill. As a complete non-runner I felt out of breath after about 30 seconds, but the very helpful assistant soon had me trying all sorts of shoes for my ‘natural gait’ feet – little did I know that we all run differently! My first run in the new shoes was more of a half-walk half-run/stagger from my village uphill to the next village and it didn’t really fill me with much hope. However, having started with short distances I gradually found that my fitness and my breathing improved and I was less of a beetroot colour when I got back home!
My nextdoor neighbour who ran in the Half Marathon last year has lent me his GPS Garmin watch and all of a sudden it can tell me how far I have gone. This is brilliant – every mile it pings; and if I stop, the little person on the screen appears to keel over and tell me "you are behind by 30 seconds". How frustrating is that!
I gradually began to tell people that I was taking part in the Half Marathon – firstly my mother and sister, who almost choked over their lasagne. "Really? You going running? How far is it?" Undeterred by their doubts, the training progressed, with more short runs and lots of Zumba sessions to improve my fitness and I have noticed the weight falling off and my running trousers getting baggy too!
Out of bed at 7am – "I’m off for a run" – has started off many days over the last few weeks, much to the surprise of my husband Martin who is secretly quite proud of me and can’t quite believe it when I get home and say "I ran eight miles today". And something strange has happened. I am actually starting to look forward to running and I love how I feel immediately after running, full of energy and very pleased with myself.
So my last big run was last Saturday and I managed ten miles. But it was a struggle and I do feel a little bit sick thinking about the extra 3.1 miles I need to do on Sunday. However, I am really committed now and with over £300 of sponsor money for the Shrewsbury Ark generously pledged from friends and family already, there is no going back now! I have been doing about an 11-minute mile so far in training and hope to complete the distance in under 2 hours 30 minutes if all goes to plan.
So if you spot a red-faced blue-and-yellow-clad runner wearing number 900 somewhere on the route, give me a shout - "Come on Mrs Kirk!"
Team Shrewsbury School are raising funds for Shrewsbury Ark, a drop-in centre in the town for homeless and vulnerable people where some of our pupils regularly volunteer. The Ark is independently run and not funded by government. Everyone who knocks on the door is given a warm, non-judgmental welcome; inside, they are offered food and drink, a shower and toilet facilities, laundry facilities, a phone and internet access, a poste restante mailing address and staff who can listen, advise and assist those who seem to have fallen through the cracks of society. Team Shrewsbury School would be very grateful for as many donations possible These can be made via uk.virginmoneygiving.com/shrewsburymarathon.