At the start of the year, I wrote about my running goals for 2019 – and now, four and a half months into the year, I thought it was about time for an update on how I’m getting on.
If you’ve read Cardiff Mummy for a while you’ll know that 2018 was the year I rediscovered running after more than 10 years of not running at all.
It all started by challenging myself at the start of 2018 to be able to run 10K by my 40th birthday in June, in an attempt to lose some weight and feel fitter ahead of my milestone age. Somewhere along the line I found myself signing up for my first half marathon, the Cardiff Half, which I ran in October. Along with a few other races throughout the year, some of which were family runs I did with my children, we were proud to raise around £800 for Ty Hafan, the children’s hospice for Wales.
I’ve discovered I feel so much more motivated with running when I have a goal in mind and in January I set myself the target of “a medal a month” for 2019, with a range of actual races, including several 10Ks and the 2019 Cardiff Half, as well as virtual races, where you sign up online for a total number of monthly miles and are rewarded with a medal when you complete them.
I also wanted to improve my 5K time and get my speed down to 25 minutes.
I also wrote that I was looking forward to This Mum Runs launching in Cardiff, after following them on social media for some time, and running with like-minded ladies…
Here’s how I’m getting on so far.
This Mum Runs Cardiff
First, This Mum Runs. In February, I was thrilled to take on a part-time position with them as Community Leader for Cardiff. My job, which fits in around my children and my other work commitments, involves setting up free weekly runs in and around Cardiff and growing the online and offline communities. I always thought I wouldn’t like to be part of a running club; that I’d be too slow or not good enough. But this feels so different. The focus isn’t on speed or distance but on empowering women to create time and headspace for themselves away from their family and work lives.
In just three months the women I have met through TMR have already become such a huge part of my life and I have made some really strong connections. I have been so inspired by other women’s running journeys and their achievements, and they have inspired me to take on new challenges of my own too. Seeing these ladies pushing themselves out of their comfort zone and taking on some amazing challenges has made me more confident to do the same. We run on a Sunday morning (where the above photo was taken) and Wednesday evening at Roath Lake (with more routes planned to launch soon) and the atmosphere is so lovely and supportive. I don’t ‘have’ to be there every week, but I find I want to be there as often as possible and hate it when I miss out.
This Mum Runs has also made race events a completely different experience for me. Whereas before I’d go alone or maybe with a friend or two, and feel nervous waiting in the pens on my own, now we arrange to meet up before and after. The mutual support beforehand is wonderful. We’re able to match up women of similar running speeds, and many of them have found that running together has helped them smash their time goals. Having women to celebrate with at the finishing line is fantastic too. The two photos above were taken at Cardiff Bay 10K in March and Newport 10K in May.
My goal to get a sub-25 minute 5K target by the end of June
This time last year I was thrilled that I’d just managed a sub-30 minute 5K. It’s a magic number for a lot of runners and it felt out of reach for so long. If you’d told me then that a year later I would have taken almost five minutes off that time, I would never have believed you. It’s been hard work, with interval training and speed sessions leaving me red faced, out of breath and knackered – but I’m loving the challenge and I can really see a difference in my stamina and time.
At the time of the Cardiff Half in October my Parkrun personal best was around 29 minutes. By the end of 2018, I’d got this down to just over 27 minutes – and now I’ve taken around a minute and a half off that, with my current Parkrun PB standing at 25 minutes and 40 seconds. I thought it might have been a bit of a fluke… but at my next Parkrun two weeks later I came in at 25 minutes 41 seconds, so not quite a PB but I guess is show’s consistency! I have six weeks to shave 40 seconds off my time to meet my goal…
Virtual running challenges
I couldn’t find a race I could take part in for January and so I signed up for an online challenge of running 50 miles that month. I have no idea what my mileage was for previous months, as I never recorded them, and so I reluctantly signed up to Strava. I say reluctantly because working in social media, the last thing I wanted was another app in my life, but I knew this would be the best way to record distances. This challenge was just the motivation I needed, getting me into more of a running routine, which isn’t easy with the unpredictable working patterns of self-employed life and having three children. It also encouraged me go out when the weather was rubbish and I might have been temped to stay at home if I didn’t have a medal to work towards. I’d only planned to do the virtual challenges in the months where I didn’t have races, but I found it really beneficial in January and signed up for 75 miles in February, 50 again in March, 75 in April – and for May I’m attempted 100 miles. At half way through the month , I’m currently at 46 miles, so just less than half way, and feeling a mixture of excited and daunted at getting to my highest monthly mileage.
I’ve so far taken part in three 10K events, two family 2K races, and have several more booked in, including two half marathons.
Fix Events 10K Winter Warmer Event. Sunday 3 February
My first event of the year was the Fix Events 10K Winter Warmer at Bute Park along with my running buddy Kate. It was a really cold but dry day, with a good atmosphere. I loved the challenge and got a new PB of 56.35.
Cardiff Bay 10K, Sunday 31 March
I signed up for this Run4Wales event at the start of the year because I thought it would be a perfect Mother’s Day present for me. When I booked it, I had no idea I’d be there as part of This Mum Runs with an official tent in the race village, supporting more than 40 other mums, and helping to lead the warm up for the family 2K with local TV weather presenters Derek ‘the Weatherman’ Brockway and Sue Charles. I ran with a friend who was trying to get a sub-hour time for the first half of the run, although we lost each other after 5K after I started talking to a TMR friend. I ran the second half at my pace and finished with a time of 56.14. My children did so well in the 2K race – and then took me for lunch in the Bay after the run. You can read more about This Mum Runs at the Cardiff Bay 10K here.
Newport 10K, Sunday 5 May
I didn’t manage an event in April but the May bank holiday saw me taking on the Run4Wales Newport 10K, and feeling like a bit of a part-timer compared to the marathon runners. Meeting up with the TMR ladies before the race, and running with one in particular for part of the run, really spurred me on. I was completely shocked, but utterly thrilled, to take 3.5 minutes off my 10K PB with a time of 52.47.
I was really proud of my children for smashing the family mile. I’m not sure of their exact times but they seemed to whizz around the course and at the following week’s Junior Parkrun they all got PBs. They loved supporting the marathon runners and seeing them cheering me on in the 10K was so emotional, as always.
Running challenges still to come in 2019
I wrote last time that I’d hoped to do the Swansea Half Marathon in June but I’m now going away for the weekend for a friend’s birthday so won’t be able to. With other work and social commitments I’m not sure I’ll manage a race that month either. But I’ve got plenty more planned this year.
Porthcawl 10K – Sunday 7 July
The third in the Run4Wales 10K series, this is the inaugural Porthcawl event and I’m looking forward to running around the seaside town. I’ll also accompany my children on the family 2K as well.
Barry Island 10K – Sunday 4 August
I absolutely loved the Run4Wales Barry Island 10K and family 2K last year and can’t wait to run in my hometown once more. I just hope it’s not as hot as last year’s race which took place in the middle of the heatwave. The hills of Barry were certainly challenging in the extreme sunshine.
Cardiff 10K – Sunday 1 September
This is a big event in the Cardiff running calendar and I’m so looking forward to it as I missed last year’s due to being on holiday. Lots of the This Mum Runs ladies will be taking part too so it will be great to run with and support them as well as raising funds and awareness for Kidney Wales.
Castle2Castle 11 miles – Sunday 8 September
Some of my friends took part in this event last year and it looked amazing – so I signed up the moment the tickets went on sale. The 11 mile run journeys from Caerphilly Castle to Cardiff Castle and raises money for Velindre, the cancer hospice here in Cardiff, an important local charity which has helped people I know. Lots of the This Mum Runs Cardiff ladies are taking part, so it will be good to have some moral support. The distance also makes it perfect prep for the Cardiff Half, a month later.
Cardiff Half Marathon – Sunday 6 October
I loved last year’s Cardiff Half so much that I booked my place the day the early bird places went on sale a couple of days after the event. Running a marathon in your home city is a pretty special experience and the Cardiff Half takes in some of Cardiff’s most iconic sights with wonderful support all along the route. The training period will be a totally different experience for me this year because so many of the This Mum Runs Cardiff ladies are also running it, many of them for the first time, so we’re planning some support runs. I loved doing it last year, but I found the longer training runs challenging on my own. Last year I ran Cardiff Half in 2h6 – so I’d love to get a sub two-hour time this year.
Cardiff Trail Half – Sunday 10 November
I would never have signed up for this event had it not been for the support of the This Mum Runs Cardiff ladies. Until recently all of my running has been road running and I’d always been a little nervous about the hills and woodland paths of trail running. This comes a month after Cardiff Half so I will have trained for the distance – I just need to get some more off-road running experience in. This will be less about time and more about enjoying a new challenge.
Cardiff Bay 5K Santa and Elf Dash – Sunday 8 December
We took part in this last year as a family, in aid of Welsh Hearts, along with my parents, my in-laws, and my husband’s siblings and their families. All dressed in our Christmas gear, it was a fun event for an important cause. We’re hoping to sign up again this year.
My children’s running goals
My children and husband have been a huge part of my running journey and I wouldn’t have been able to do it without their support. Thankfully they all love running too and although sadly injuries mean my husband can’t take on any of the longer distances, we take the children to Cardiff Junior Parkrun as often as we can and they always take part in the family races if they’re available at the events I take part in. So far this year they’ve done the 2K at the Cardiff Bay 10K and the Family Mile at the Newport Marathon and 10K. The plan is for them to do the 2Ks at the Porthcawl, Barry Island and Cardiff 10K, as well as the one at the Family Running Festival the day before Cardiff Half.
As well as the 5K Santa and Elf Dash, we’re also hoping to do a couple of family 5K races, although nothing is booked as yet. My two oldest children want to do ‘grown up Parkrun’, as they call it, over the summer when their swimming classes finish for the term.
I love the confidence running gives them. They can see the progress in themselves and we have talked a lot about the important of keeping healthy and active
I love that they know I am practicing what I preach, as they see me working hard to keep healthy and active too. They also know that hard work can reap great results.
As my daughter said to me after Cardiff Half, “You’re my hero Mummy, because you’ve shown my anything is possible.”