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Sheffield half marathon 14th April 2019

Where do I start with this one ?
As my challenge came about last year, it was my aim to run this race today, in the city the IBS Network is based and in April .. IBS awareness month.
It was always going to be a high point of my challenge, but I wasn’t quite prepared for it to be what it was this weekend.

I managed to get together a group of friends and family members to run together as team IBS ... myself and 4 others from Swindon .. one from Wales .. three from Rotherham and even one who flew in from her new home in Spain .... 10 Runner’s showed up for the race .. something I didn’t think would happen. 4 of us with IBS itself and one with Chrons disease ... what better way to promote the issues than with half of the team actually suffering the symptoms and actually knowing just what we sufferers have to go through on a daily basis.
Most of the team had never even met each other until the day before the race but yet we all shared stories and simply gelled together instantly ... a fine group of people one could only wish for ... two of them .. both family members aren’t even runners but they agreed to do the race with me for the cause ... it was rather humbling seeing them all together the morning of the race ... all in their Team IBS shirts and ready to boldly go into unknown territory .. none of us had ever ran in Sheffield even though I grew up in and around Rotherham and Sheffield.
The camaraderie started early on the morning of the race ... as a team we all grouped together at our hotel and all travelled into Sheffield together ... never separated and never a dull moment. It was such a relaxed atmosphere with the group it was kind of surreal ... we queued together for baggage drop, we queued together in line for the toilets and we all had the privilege of meeting up with Alison from the IBS Network for a quick photo opportunity and her to wish us well in the race and to thank us for running for the charity ... she braved the early morning and the cold to come cheer us on and introduce herself to the team ... it was a real nice touch, one that you rarely get when you run for charity, but this one is different to the standard charity run.. for once it wasn’t just a sign up and run type of deal, this time myself and Alison had met up a couple of times and discussed my challenge and my races and arranged for the team to run today .. this is the best way to run for charity ... I applaud Alison for what she does and has done so far within my challenge.

So just as we leave the silly long queues for the toilets we have about three minutes left before the start time, just. A short stroll to the starting pens as some of the team split to go to their pens ... the rest of the team all started together in the same pen, as one
Something I havnt done before and I’m glad I did ... it eased the pressure within, to be that relaxed and excited at the Same time for what was to follow. I wish I could run like this in every race, it was priceless ... I’ve been in two running clubs and ran with the clubs but nothing like this before ... my team ROCKED !!!
So, as we approached our starting pen , the buzzer was sounded and the race began.We walked slowly down towards the Crucible theatre and onto the straight and across the start line, everyone of the team was in full force and still cracking jokes and smiling laughing at anything ... usually Julia’s swearing at what was to come .
I think we all wished each other good luck but it was such a mind rush to finally be starting the race we had all secretely dreaded ... for the hills ... and looked forward to as a team in-equal measures.
We were off and myself and my brother in law set off at our own pace ahead of the rest of our team ... I knew Sheffield from growing up in and around the area and the first bit of the route I knew well. I knew where the hill started and the build up to it would give me the necessary to get my chest opened up and my legs ready for my steady pace I was about to give them.
One thing about this race is the support given by the people of Sheffield,. From the offset there were people everywhere, shouting and screaming good luck and you can do this at everyone that ran-by them. Just what you need when I know you’re about to struggle on a mass of hills lasting around 6 miles of this 13.1 mile race.
As we headed along that first section, I could remember all the times I had been-up and down this part of Sheffield as a child and as a working man, I even ran by a couple of places I had actually worked in on various occasions.
The first mile and a half I followed Dave ... his first race ever.. he was giving good pace and was super confident in himself and in these new surroundings for him, so much so that he outpaced me and gained a massive start as we started up those dreaded hills. I’m still having IT band issues and at mile two my ankle was getting really tight, this is how it sometimes starts ... hills kill my issues so I know I have to take it easy to get through the rest of the race,so I drop my stride and pace on each section of the hills from here on in. It was more like jeffing than running, but it was something I had been doing in training in prep for today’s race, so I was confident enough that I’d get through it today.
All the way up the hill, the street was full of supporters, it seemed a never ending wall of support ... it was an amazing turn out from the people of Sheffield and just the morale boost that we needed today as the weather started to turn cold and eventually almost unbearable at the very apex of the hill section but by that point we are just glad that we have made it ... we are as high as its going to get and we can see for miles ... it was a beautiful sight but it was now time to really focus on what was to come.
As we started the descent to the finish line it was bitter cold for a while in the open countryside but it was perfect to open my stride and take the race back. I had been passed a while ago the 2:20 pacers and I was gutted and now determined I was going to catch them up and pass them towards possibly a 2:15 finish.. the downhill was also full of hidden straights and more uphill sections so as I passed the 2:20 pacers and almost to the 2:15 pacers in fell more uphills and slowed me right down again for protection.. I toyed around with the 2:15 pacer on and off for about three miles and each time I had to slow or stop he always made sure to ask if I was ok .. asked me what was the problem and showed concern. I told him about my issues and he said be careful but I will see you later on ... he could see the fight in me and knew I’d pass him again at another place en route ... he showed faith in me ... a total stranger but ... a fellow runner.
I finally passed him for the last time around mile ten and he said, go ... I won’t see you again ... kill it
We were by then back on the roads enshrined by houses and supporters, back on that first bastard of a hill but going down it. It was amazing to know where I was again and know the gradient would help me pull back more ground and time. I was feeling good ... still no sign of Dave, he must have rocked it too as I thought. Around mile 12 and heading towards the city centre and the finish line, I spot Dave ahead of me ... it was a downhill section so good for me, he was still looking strong but had lost some pace ... I drew up along side him and chatted for a while ... he didn’t have a running watch so he asked me how far we had left ... I said just over a mile and a half, that mad his face light up, he knew he was almost there and that he could finish what he started, but he was suffering ... I grabbed my chance and picked up a bit of pace ... I can usually throw in some more power towards mile twelve in a half as I have trained towards this in past races, so I gradually left him behind, fully expecting him to catch me up and overtake me at some point ... I didn’t look back though, I urged myself forwards as I knew there was one more uphill section before the finish line ... one where he could possibly catch me up as his strength was in the uphill section.
I caved in again on the uphill section before the two last turns into the home straight ... I’d managed it though, I’d managed to gain about twenty minutes back, I was on for a two hour finish or there abouts if I could keep up this last ditched pace.
Turned the last corner of the course, supporters shouting encouragement and I could see just how far the line was ... just what I needed to end this thing and to finally get myself around that 2 hr marker that I am used to ... the injury had kept hidden today thankfully.. I had played my trump card with it and I kicked it’s arse, it was time to lengthen that stride and let out all that pent up energy for the last push ... although two men ahead of me had other ideas and closed in on each other blocking me from passing them, almost knocking them down In the process as I put on a fight for that few seconds off my time ... it was a strong finish. It was what I needed from today’s race and it worked. I couldn’t have been happier at my time today ... it was a tough race and an 02:00:11 chip time ... no pb but it’s time back from-my last few races injured.
Managed to hang around the finish line for Dave to come over the line and congratulate him ... he was only 2 minutes behind me. He totally cracked his first ever half marathon as a non runner ... so proud of him for doing this for the cause and the team. There were still 6 team members behind us so we grabbed our medals and goody bags and the free beer and waited around as one by one they crossed the line.
My little sister Sarah and friend Julia were the last ones to come in, as we waited on the sidelines in-the freezing cold weather. It was horrible just standing around in the cold waiting another hour for them to finish but as a team we did it. We braved it until we finally saw them coming towards us ... myself and Dave at this point jumped over the barriers and back onto the course to run with them on their last 25metres or so and over the line at a totally respectable 3:07
At this point Julia’s calf muscle was spasm-ing away as she was almost crippled by it, but she fought it as we walked out of the tunnel for their goody bags and medals ... they had totally earned it the pair of them.
It was a proud moment to see the youngest and the oldest team member cross the line together lol
Sarah will probably never do another half marathon in-her life , but she cracked this one and she will never forget that feeling at the end of her first ever half marathon.
Something that we seasoned runners can never get back.

Sheffield half marathon .. we dreaded it for months previous to this weekend .. we even dreaded the start line but as it unfolded I for one grew to like it for what it was. It was a huge challenge to master that hill section and in my current state I didn’t expect to like it so much. I think the support system is what drew me into the race today .. it kept me going up those hills ... the 2:15 pacer that kept assuring me that we are not always alone in a race and that even a total stranger can have faith in your abilities from watching my performance as I dipped and raised. Once again I’m humbled by the race community. The support system of fellow runners is amazing and will keep me being interested in running for a long time to come I hope.
I would like to thank my team for today.. you made it so special ... for you all to share this weekend with me and for the cause ... it means a great deal.. respect to you all and hey .. let’s do it all again next year guys.

To be able to share your passion with friends and family as a team has been priceless ... I would recommend it to everyone out there.


IAN - 01:33:16
KAYLEIGH - 01:54:12
JEFF - 02:00:11
DAVE - 02:02:00
LIZ - 02:24:59


PATRICK - 02:23:53
RUTH - 02:29:08
ALISON - 02:29:27
SARAH - 03:08:30
JULIA - 03:08:29

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