Jo’s Journey – Week Six!

Monday 9th Feb – Sunday 16th Feb

This week I ran Tuesday’s ten-mile run on my own. Some of the guys ran on Monday instead so they wouldn’t miss the Swans game and the rest of us split up to run different routes. I’d misplaced my house key so I needed to run towards my house in order to get home!

As always, I put my kit on slowly and managed my route – four miles out and four miles back. The last four miles were mostly flat with slight hill inclines and a long hill at the end. As you may know by now, I love a good hill so I was up for it! It was dark and cold and as I began the run, I realised that I had very little high-vis clothing on. Thankfully, there were roadworks along my route. Now, I would never tell anyone to run alongside roadworks for health and safety reasons, but they did me a massive favour! A temporary path had been laid down for pedestrians which had been marked out with cones – I was safe!

Although I felt safe, I was scared at the same time. It was a dark and lonely stretch of road to be running alone and anxious thoughts invaded my brain. Was I going to be followed or attacked or kidnapped and never seen again? The thick, dense bushes suddenly seemed to be reaching towards me. Who knew I was running? Oh yes, the team! But did they know my route? No! No one knew!

Finally I saw the faint glow of the streetlights which grew brighter as I approached. Soon, I was out of that awful darkness and running along towards the hospital. I told myself to focus on the now, and my thoughts turned to my kit. I usually wear thick tights under my running trousers during the winter months, and I began to wonder if they were restricting my stride or causing the pain I was feeling in my toes. The problem is, I was wearing new trainers and gosh they were painful. My heel was slipping which caused my toes to be pushed to the front of my shoes. I knew I needed to tighten my laces but I had to finish this run first; I wasn’t stopping for anybody!

Before I knew it, I was at the bottom of my favourite hill, Llangyfelach Hill. This marked the last part of my run and then I would be home! I began thinking about this hill and how I’ve been training on it for over 20 years. I love it, but it’s definitely a challenge; the long stretch, gradient and cracks in the pavement don’t make for easy running. To take my mind off it, I started focusing on what I love about this hill. The Kings Head, which was the pub I spent my youth in, the church my brother got married in and where I left my CD player as I thought the church needed it more than I did, and The Eagle where we had pre-wedding drinks for Matthew and Rhian’s wedding. All these fond memories were playing through my head, and before I knew it I was at the top of the hill!

This week I had made a promise to myself to go to the gym – nope, that didn’t happen! I decided to do my stretches every morning instead as I’m keen to keep those aches and pains at bay for as long as possible. I had also promised that I would try and eat healthier; I somewhat succeeded, although a Valentine’s date night and Sunday dinner with dessert went down far too well!

I went for two more runs this week before attempting Sunday’s run with Storm Dennis breathing down my neck! On the Wednesday I had a catch-up run with the club treasurer, Dave Bivens before carrying on to do a speed session with the club. On the Friday I did a 10k run along another favourite hill of mine before meeting my boyfriend Stephen for a romantic Valentine’s night – if you can call watching the Swans before our meal romantic! (Only joking, I loved it.)

Then came Sunday. Was I ready for this half-marathon run? I wasn’t feeling too good and neither was Stephen so I left him in the house. The difference between our running journey is that I have to do this; there is a marathon at the end after all! As I drove to the club, I debated whether we should even run. Storm Dennis didn’t seem too bad overnight but there was definitely a strong wind battering my car as I made my way to the club.

I arrived at the club and after a little contemplation, we agreed to get going. Alex Simpson started running with me and my legs felt like lead! My head was not helping them feel any lighter, so I told Alex to go on without me and I turned back. I didn’t feel great at all but I needed to find 13.1 miles from somewhere. I alternated between running and walking for another four miles before I decided to call it quits, reassuring myself that I wasn’t well and it was ok to rest. Week 7 is a new training week!

Link to my VirginGiving Page https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/JoannePopham2

Link to the charity – www.paulpophamfund.co.uk

Link to the club – www.paulpophamrunningclub.co.uk

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