It is therefore fitting that Cheryl's last two training runs involved parkrun. Her penultimate long run started at the country park and her final run concluded with a parkrun.
The Penultimate Training Run - 12 miles.
Our T-shirts for NLHM had just arrived and we decided to wear them for a couple of training runs, just to check for any chaffing! They look very vibrant and were also a good fit and comfortable.
Cheryl met me after I volunteered at parkrun 4 weeks ago ready for her 12 mile run. Chris came along to support too, because I had done a long off road run (21.5 miles) with the Dukeries training crew the day before. I enjoyed my long run, but was having a mini crisis of confidence about whether I could do another long run the day after. It was important that Cheryl got this 12 miles under her belt and my plan was that if I had to really slow down, Chris would keep going with her and I could just trot along steady. As it was, I really struggled with the first mile, which was a single lap of the lake at the Cleethorpes Country Park. I actually thought I was going to have to bail out and just leave Cheryl to it. However, I remember that when I first mooted the idea of running Dukeries and then run N Lincs HM the day after, Mike Wells said that I'd probably find the first 5 k (of the HM) difficult and doubt whether I could carry on, but that I would be able to push on through it and be OK. With that in mind, I kept going on this training run and didn't admit until afterwards that I'd had any doubts.
After the lap of the lake, we left the Country Park and ran down towards Tesco, then along Taylors Avenue,Kingsway towards the Pier, then doubled back along the Seafront all the way down to Pleasure Island and back along North Sea Lane towards the Country Park. This couldn't have worked out any better, distance-wise. As we crossed the car park, the Garmin ticked over to 12 miles and the job was done. Cheryl seemed to fare really well on this run and wasn't really tiring until about 10 miles. At the end, Baz met us to go for breakfast and asked her if she thought she could run another mile, she paused for a second and then said, "yes, I'm tired, but I could run another mile if I had to." Brilliant!
The Final Countdown - 13 miles
In my mind, 12 miles would be enough distance in training, but Cheryl felt she wanted to be nearer to the actual distance. As I am a big believer that it's important to have your mind in the right place, it was important for me to listen to what Cheryl needed to do to increase her confidence.
When I was marathon training, 2 years ago, I did a couple of long runs where I ran from home to Cleethorpes Country Park and then ran parkrun. I loved doing that so I thought it would be a great idea to do the same as her final HM training. My debate with myself was, could I get the timing right? When I did it by myself, I misjudged it both times, arriving late the first time and taking ages to catch the tailrunner, and way too early the second time so that I ended up running 2 short laps of the lake before the start. However, I checked the pace of Cheryl's last 3 long runs on Strava and worked out the likely pace. We got dropped off 10 miles outside the country park and set of at a nice even pace. When we'd run about 8½ miles, just as Cheryl was starting to feel a little fatigued, Chris came past in the car and pipped his hooter. Just the lift we needed. About a mile later Captain Katy and Chris Hewis passed us in their car and hooted. It was great to run in to the country park and be greeted by CRC and parkrun friends, some of whom knew our plans. Rachel has been out with injury and was just returning to 'try her leg out', so she ran with us and we welcomed the extra company.
Bingo. We arrived with 4 minutes to spare - just long enough for me to have a loo stop and for us to be included in the run brief. I'd briefed the Steve Green, RD for the day at parkrun, of our plans and sure enough, as we stood at the back of the crowd for the run brief, he shouted, "where are Fran and Cheryl? Have they arrived yet?" Then when I waved and shouted back, "yes, we're here" he announced that we had run 10 miles in as part of HM training. This was great because it meant we got a lot of praise and high fives and kudos as we ran parkrun. Despite running 10 miles in, Cheryl's parkrun time wasn't too shabby - under 38 minutes. What a great achievement.
So that's it. All the hard work is done. Cheryl has worked hard at the training over the past 16 weeks and her confidence has grown. She wondered how we were going to build up from 6.2 miles to 13.1 miles and we did it in exactly the same way that we built up from 5k to 10k - a bit at a time.
Our fellow runners have been very generous with donations to Cheryl's charity, The Pink Rose Suite. I would like to add my thanks to Cheryl's. There are so many people running for so many worthy causes, and we very much appreciate your kindness. Thank you so much.
Thank you, from Cheryl's Just Giving Page