On Sunday 2nd April 2017, I took part in my first challenge for Step Into My Shoes – the Lincoln 10k.

I was joined by my colleague, Dawn Perkins, who I had been training with leading up to this race.

Me and Nat set off early on the day, with literally a mug of coffee to go and my race day breakfast, which had now turned into my ritual: Spanish omelette. We arrived at the event village at 09:30am., fully stuffed and wired on caffeine.

The sun was out and thousands of people began to arrive. At 10:00am, we had our final toilet stop and I routinely warmed up and stretched. All ready to go, Dawn and I made our way to the PEN, dun dun duuun! The pens were heaving as you can see…

We did our first ever live stream at the start line so that those who were following could be with us in that moment. BBC Radio Lincolnshire official counted down the clock and set the racers off at 11:00am. This was it – game face on. My last personal best (PB) for a 10k race was 1 hour and 4 minutes. My coach Tony had set a benchmark for this race at sub 58 minutes. I wanted to prove to him, to those who were cheering me on, and most importantly, prove to myself that I could beat that time! I knew I had to give it my all, to come out on top, and I knew I could achieve this time; I just had to be hungry for it!

And hungry I was… Setting off at a good pace, I ran my fastest ever mile in just over 8 minutes. I was thinking winner winner chicken dinner! If I can keep this up, I’ve got this. The next two miles I were averaging out 9 minute miles and I knew these times were good enough, if I just kept going. I had started my Garmin (tracks my mileage) a few meters after the start line, which meant I wasn’t sure of the actual time I was making. But nothing stopped me, I just kept moving. We had tremendous support from bands that were playing at different points along the route. They really uplifted and inspired the runners to keep going.

I reached the 3-mile stage and I was feeling good. Only half way to go I told myself. I kept pushing, focusing on my breathing. At this point water was being given out, I grabbed a bottle as I ran past. Not thinking of stopping, I gulped some water down, slightly choking as a little water went down the wrong hole. Note to new racerunners – make sure you stop and give yourself time to drink your water and eat food. I won’t be doing that again!

I soon forgot I was choking and I darted onto the home stretch. Before I knew it, I ran past the sign of 8 kilometres. Only two more to go, I was thinking. I could see the Lincoln Cathedral in the distance and knew that there lied the finish line. I picked up pace and as I got closer the crowds got bigger and people were roaring and clapping, encouraging everyone to keep going. That was it, my eyes began to well up, the love and support these strangers were giving off via their body language and kind words was so heart-warming, it was such an emotional experience but an experience like no other! Only on race day do you ever get those goose bumps and the feeling of self-accomplishment. I could now see the finish line and I just sprinted, sprinted for my life!

Not knowing what time I had achieved as my watch was out of sync, I waited in anticipation! Minutes after I had finish, I had a text with my time! It stated, Congratulations Grace! Your finish time was 00:56:01!

Welling up again! I had done it! I had smashed my sub 58 minutes and instead bagged myself a new PB of 56 minutes. I was so pleased and proud of what I had achieved, and proving to myself that I could do it was the best feeling! Dawn came only minutes after with her own PB. I was so proud of her too as I had seen how hard she had worked.

With medals round our necks, this was our day – we smashed the Lincoln 10k! I just want to say a massive thank you to everyone who supported us on the day by sending your love, kind words, and donations! You were our third runner who pushed us over the finish line!