On Sunday 9th April, I took on my 2nd biggest challenge, which was the Sheffield Half Marathon. As I had never ran 13.1miles in my life, I was rather nervous, but very excited at the same time.

Many people speculated what the course was going to consist of. I wasn’t too sure what to expect and for personal preference, I preferred not to know. It’s that unknown that excites me more and I have the mentality to just GO FOR IT, whatever comes at me!

The night before the race, my family ensured I had my carb overload, which consisted of noodles, rice, vegetables, and chicken. These foods are great to have pre race as they fuel your body, giving you slow releasing energy – just what you need for the mileage I was about to cover. Then it was early to bed as we had to leave by 8:00am the next morning.

Alarm clock goes off at 06:30am. Time to get up… It’s RACE DAY! I begin my normal routine – get dressed, KT tape on, feet blister plastered up, race number pinned, hair in position, light stretches done and down for breakfast. As you may have read from my last blog, I ritually have an omelette on race day. Smelling the cooking as I run down the stairs, stomach rumbling, I was ready to eat. Omelette is another good source of energy to have for breakfast, to give you enough fuel for any race. I finally fill up on water and have my cup of strong coffee. I’m ready to GO!

We make our way to the tram, which takes us straight to the starting line. Taking numerous toilet breaks as my butterfly nerves kick in. We
begin our warm up and stretch before the race begins at 09:30am. 7,000 people swamp the racing pens and the countdown begins…10,9,8,7,6,5,4,3,2,1,GO! We’re off, music on and in the zone, I set off to what will be the best race I’ve ever done.

Slow but steady, I set my pace, keeping good posture. First mile didn’t seem too bad, straight and flat, easy going. Then, BOOM! It’s there, first hill, gradual incline, I tackle it and fight hard! It never ends… incline after incline after incline, 4 miles later! BOOM! The largest incline of them all, KING OF THE HILL! I take water on board and use a gel for energy; I tackle the hill one step at a time! Without stopping, I finally reach the top in 11 minutes 58 seconds. I hear my name being shouted on the sideline! I look across and see Emma and the gang roaring at me! So pleased to see them, I run over and swamp Emma with a sweaty hug before carrying on.

5 miles down, 8 more to go! I enter the out and back of the race. Quite deserted and little shade – the sun now beaming – I am feeling the heat! Fuelling and hydration is key to your success especially when the sun is out to say hello! Refuelling at 7 miles, I begin to descend down back to Sheffield. Out and back being one of my favourite parts, scenery overlooking the peak district was just motivating within itself.

I cross the half way mark, and only have 10k left to go! The race is on: setting myself to finish the race in 2hours 15m ins, it was going to be close! I pick up my pace, refuel and hydrate, and the race against time is on! Spectators were out in force, hose pipes at the ready, jelly beans waiting and baked goods made! The roar of the crowds kept us going! It was an exceptional feeling, being supported by so many people.

Only 3 miles left to go! Blisters pop up to say hello and the pain begins. Not taking any notice, I power through. I reach Ecclesall Road and I know I’m on the home stretch. I see Pete and Ann, as I run past them I wave frantically and speed onto the finish line. I see the ‘400m to go’ sign, but the finish line wasn’t in sight. I race around the corner and there it is! I sprint to the line and finish in style. Not believing I’ve done it, I stand in disbelief, holding in the tears. My family shout me from across the way; I go over and give them the biggest and sweatiest hug!

My time comes through – I did it in 2 hours 13 minutes and 48 seconds!What an achievement! And a race I will never forget. Thank you to each and every one of you for supporting me, you have been amazing!

Onto the 3rd challenge – in my homeland and favourite city – The Leeds Half Marathon!