My proudest moment in running. I was invited to join the England Team to compete in the England Athletics National Masters Championships being held at Chester Marathon. Competing against teams of the Celtic Nations. Qualification was from Manchester Marathon. I knew nothing about this championship until I received the email from the England Team Manager in May “CONGRATULATIONS! I am emailing to that you have qualified for the England Age Group Masters Marathon Team following your performance at Manchester last month.”
I thought it was a spam email to start with – someone having a laugh, but did some research and was soon very excited to see it was real. The vest arrived in due course along with the shortest of red shorts. There was no way I was going out in public in those!!
Thank you to Louise who immediately offered to drive me and be my chaperone for the weekend. We booked into the Team Hotel for Saturday evening.
Chester marathon is a great event. The venue – Chester Race course is great. Parking is on a field at the venue and just a short walk away from the race HQ, So close that if it was a bit warmer I could have got away with not using the baggage drop although it was very easy with no queues.
Meeting the England Team Managers and first glimpse of the rest of the team at the red spider tent for a team photo was quite a special moment.
It was a very cold day, so I started with my home made arm warmers on and ditched them after a few miles as the day warmed up, (home made arm warmers; cheap football socks with the toe snipped out, about £3 for a pack of two, real arm warmers are too expensive to ditch when you’ve got warmed up).
The runners in the Championship race start had a dedicated starting pen directly behind the very few elite runners so I was across the start line within seconds. Being very careful not to get carried off by runners much faster than me. Having the England vest on felt great and was a good ice breaker with other runners on the way round. Within a few miles I could feel a surge of runners from behind as the 3:15 pacer and his followers breezed past me. For a split second I was disappointed that they had gone past – stupidly since there was no way that I was going for a 3:15. A few miles further on and again I could feel a surge of runners from behind as the 3:30 pacer arrived. Again slight disappointment that they had caught me up. It meant that I wasn’t running fast enough for a 3:30, but I reasoned that that was OK too since I was after a sub 3:40 not a 3:30. I started to chat with the pacer and for several miles was quite comfortable running along with the group. It wasn’t until mile 17 when we came across a steep hill that the pacer disappeared ahead of me. I kept the pace group with in sight though and gained a bit more on them, until mile 23/24 when we came across another very steep hill. This one had “Race Angles” working on it; if you were trying to run the hill, they would run along by your side giving you encouragement. What a fantastic idea!! I walked the hills though. At the top of the hill, because I’d walked I flipped my watch round to see the total running time, expecting to see my hope of a 3:40 to have disappeared. I was over the moon to see 3:15 on there with just about 2 miles left. I was even more happy to enter the final stretch, in sight of the gantry to realise I had completed in 3:34:31. Overall result was 5th in Age Category for the race as a whole and 4th in Age Category for the Championship race. Chuffed with that. A fantastic experience.