Sunday 12th October

By Alissa Sharma

I joined the club in September 2013 as I wanted to improve my running and see what I could learn. I remember the group who had run the Yorkshire Marathon that year. I hadn’t been there long at all but remember them all coming to training one night with their t shirts and medals and thinking I don’t think I could ever run a marathon.

As the months ticked by, I saw my running improve and gained a tremendous passion for it. I loved it. In the January of 2014 the ballot opened for the Yorkshire Marathon and I wanted to try it desperately and luckily I got in!

I was hit with some bad news in February 2013 when my Gran passed away very suddenly of a heart condition. As soon as my training got under way in the June, I knew I had to do it for her, she is the one who showed me strength and courage throughout her life and I wanted to dedicate this to her and raise money for The British Heart Foundation.

I started a Runners World programme in the June and stuck to it rigorously. I really enjoyed the training but it was hard work. At the time of signing up I had no idea of the time commitment. It literally look over my life for 3 months but I was 100% committed and wanted to do my best. Luckily my friends and family were very supportive of this. I took advantage of the early mornings in the Summer, it was cooler so some days I’d just get up before work and do 5 miles. I’d run in the evenings when I needed to cover the longer distances as it allowed me more time and it was still light at 9pm so it was perfect. All my LSR’s were either on Saturday or Sunday, whatever worked for me and how I was feeling. Some days I thought I’ve not eaten enough to do an LSR in the morning so I’d change my days around.

I went to Thailand 6 weeks before the Marathon and I was there for 3 weeks. The week before I went I managed a 23 mile LSR. I felt like a weight had been lifted and it wasn’t until this point that I realised I could actually do this, and in a pretty decent time. The whole time I was on holiday I was worrying about the possible effect it would have on my training efforts as it was just too hot to run out there. Luckily, if anything, the rest did me good.

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The day I got back, my training plan said 8 miles, so I that’s what  I did, and it felt great. It was only 3 weeks until the big day and I was feeling confident.

Race day was here, I was nervous, really nervous. It was foggy and cold and I just wanted to get going. I knew there was support from the other members of the club dotted around the route and that kept me focused and I was excited to see them.

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I crossed the start line 2 minutes or so in. I just kept saying to myself don’t go off too fast. In training I was doing 9.5 to 10 minute miles, but my LSR routes were pretty hilly and this was flat, I took a risk and decided to aim for 9 min miles, purely because the pacer was in sight of me. I felt comfortable, I felt strong and I was enjoying it. The first lot of support from RR was a welcome sight, it was early on and really boosted me to keep steady.

Everyone was out of their houses, little kids wanting hi 5’s and offering sweets, the elderly in their wheelchairs clapping along, it was just a pleasure to see and kept my mind off what I aw actually doing!

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I didn’t have a drink until the 3rd water station at about 9km, I didn’t need it. I said to myself before the race that just because it’s there, it doesn’t mean I have to have it. I’m not sure if this helped or hindered me at this stage. I was worried about getting a stitch which I found I did on training runs when taking on too much water and as It wasn’t particularly hot I wasn’t sweating much. 

I kept a relatively even pace until I reached 13 miles and then I felt like started to tire, this could be due to me not fuelling effectively and taking water on board earlier on in the race. As soon as I had the opportunity to get some sugar I did. I had a Powerade and just kept sipping it and also some jelly babies from the local supporters. I knew this is when I’d really have to start finding mental strength now and just find some kind of distraction. Luckily, Phil and Michael must have read my mind and they ran up beside me. I had a chat with them to see how they was getting on and they was both doing great! I had one earphone in and one out and there was a girl next to me saying she really needed someone to talk to to keep her distracted. I chatted with her for a while, it was her first Marathon too, looking back at this I could have gained time here as I wasn’t running my own pace, I was too busy chatting.

At mile 20 I was greeted my more fantastic support from RR. Anthony was shoving jelly babies in my hand and I really needed them here, this was my slowest mile and I remember my legs felt terribly heavy. I saw Stu jumping up and down waving his hands, I was in a world of my own and wouldn’t have seen him otherwise. I knew I was fast approaching 23 miles and I was scared of getting there as after that I was delving into the unknown as I had never ran more than this. I always had in my head after that it’s 5k then that’s it!! 

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The last 3 miles for me were strangely the most enjoyable. As I ran through the villages everyone was shouting peoples names just urging you on. The RR support were incredible here… literally the loudest most cheeriest supporters you can ask for. Not sure I could have got the time I did without seeing them when I did. I looked at my watch at mile 23 and remember thinking wow! I wanted to complete it between 4.15-4.30hours. I was around 15 mins off a 4 hour marathon at this point and in a way I was disappointed I’d left it this late to realise I could have potentially been on for a sub 4 hour. I don’t know what happened but something inside me just made me go. I just gave everything I had in me at that point to get as close to a 4 hour marathon as I possibly could. I saw the hill that everyone had mentioned and I just  ran up it, at this point I realised how much hill training and training on tired legs pays off… for moments like that when you need your legs to carry you. I wasn’t phased by it, I knew I was nearly done. 

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The moment when I was running along to the finish line feels like a blur. I remember running as fast as I could, over taking people, which felt amazing to be able to do that at this stage. I felt like I was floating. This was my fastest mile and I still had it in me at this stage, but it could have just been adrenaline getting me through and the excitement of knowing I’d finish and in one piece.

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As I was approaching the finish line I heard my name and number being called out. I’d done it! Final time 4.03.02.I will not be forgetting that time in a hurry. Such a massive achievement for me. A year after joining the club I ran my first marathon in a time I didn’t think was possible. If it wasn’t for the club and every single person there who has inspired, encouraged and supported me through this journey I know I wouldn’t have succeeded. For me, I never knew how disciplined, motivated and determined I was until now, but I really had to work hard for what I achieved. Next up, hopefully a sub 4 hour! #vivaRR

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