On January 1st I sat down and wrote a list of ‘running goals for 2017’, mainly consisting of things many runners can relate to: volunteer more at parkrun; beat my 10k time and attempt to race as much as I can. Nowhere on that list was ‘run a half marathon’ it was never on my radar, I simply dismissed it, thinking I couldn’t go the distance (excuse the pun). But here I am, still on cloud nine 3 days after running my first half marathon.
I’m a bit of a running novice. I ran on and off for five years during University, mainly because as a student I couldn’t afford a gym membership. It was only from May 2016 onwards that I transformed into a running nut and the adventure began.
Fast forward just over 13 months and there I was training for a half marathon.Crazy? Possibly. After much anticipation the weekend arrived and I made the drive from south London to Swansea, with a not so quick pit stop in Bristol for lunch with a friend, where we talked all things running. Martha certainly calmed my nerves.
Upon arrival in Swansea I met up with Blake and Matt, also on the FrontRunner UK team and their friends Caroline, Stuart and David (Wyeth). That evening we experienced a ‘unique’ dining experience, where we managed to eat all the food in the restaurant….
I was woken Sunday morning by the sound of rain hammering the hotel window and a rather angry sounding sheep. I felt a real mix of emotions: nerves, excitement and a real sense of disbelief. I spent all of my teenage years battling obesity, unable to run more than 50m and a half marathon was completely unachievable. However, I’m a firm believer that you should take every opportunity offered to you, and the chance to run my first half marathon with the ASICS FrontRunner team was too good an opportunity to miss.
The rain was pounding as we headed to the start. I felt nervous, none of my training runs had been in the wet and I was so worried I would fall flat on my face in a puddle. Aaron (@bristolrunner) joined me, with the kind offer to pace me. I don’t remember much from the start, I was simply too nervous. However my one lasting memory was the sun cutting through the clouds and the rain easing up just as the gun went. And we were off. 13.1miles ahead of us.
The first few kms wound through the streets of Swansea City Centre, lined with supporters before heading out to the coast where we ran parallel to the sea front, taking in views of the vast scooping bay. The first 8kms flew, effortlessly paced by Aaron, whilst keeping an eye out on the runners looping back, looking for Matt, Holly, Blake and Pete.
As we reached the turn to head back by Mumbles Pier, my watch registered 10km in 53 minutes. I felt comfortable and ready for the second half of the race. 11, 12, 13 and 14km came and went. The route lined by the beautiful expanse of beach. It made me realise how much I missed the coast. I grew up by the beach and many of my training runs had been done along Southport sea front, so I felt right at home here.
Having fun round mile 10! With Aaron @Bristolrunner
The temperatures began to pick up and one local was kindly hosing down hot and weary runners. We kept pushing forward. However, just before 15km the wall hit. A niggle in my hip became a burning and tight hip flexor. I pushed on with Aaron’s encouragement, Aaron is coming back from injury and this was his longest run since March, we were both pushing our boundaries.
At 16km I was slowing and the mental battle began. I kept saying to myself, just one parkrun until the finish. I visualised my home parkrun of Preston with its notorious hill, gritted my teeth and kept putting one foot in front of the other. The last 4km were the toughest of my life, both physically and mentally. The tiredness was similar to feeling drunk. As we left the coast and headed back towards the city centre Aaron kept spurring me on, he was right the hard work was done. It was now time to dig deep. The crowds lifted me exactly when I needed it. A fantastic atmosphere on the approach home. Strangers cheering for strangers. The noise waking me back up. Looking at my watch I knew if I just kept going I would be on for a sub two hour finish. Can you imagine, first time out and sub two hours! The final km came, 800m, 600m, 500m, 400m. I couldn’t see the finish, I needed to know I was close to the line. As we rounded the final corner there was the sign: FINISH. The noise was intense, the crowd were screaming. About 10m from the line it hit me, a few more strides and I would be a half marathoner. I couldn’t believe it. 13.1miles was mine and in a respectable 1:55:58. I broke down in tears. The distance that had seemed so elusive and unachievable was mine.
Striding towards the finish line
I collected my race pack kindly and efficiently given out by volunteers from the cadets. One young cadet placing a medal round my next and congratulating me- a beautiful and very poignant touch. I had done it! I’ll be completely honest, I didn’t enjoy every minute. Some were tough, but it was worth it. The post-race high was unlike any other.
Swansea will always have a very special place in my heart. An extremely well organised race, particularly given its size (I didn’t realise just how many people were there until afterwards, it never felt busy or crowded). The volunteers were helpful and efficient, dealing with large numbers of runners with ease. A beautiful, flat route along the coast, lined with friendly and supportive locals. As we headed to meet the ASICS Frontrunners for post-race brunch, I thought to myself, yes Swansea I’ll be back, and in that instant I guess I decided that I’ll be running another half marathon! Watch this space!
We are half marathoners! Great to catch up with the ASICS FrontRunner team as well as other instagram runners! (credit @martha_runs)
Envrionmental Research from London/Southport
Age group: 30 - 35
Club: Greenwich Tritons, Southport Strollers
Virtual Insanity? Why you should have a go at a Virtual Raceby Becca B / May. 10, 2023
Ever thought of trying a virtual marathon or race? Zero crowds, trying to find a 26.2mile route, open roads and no medal to acknowledge your efforts, yeah once sounded like my idea of hell, however the Virtual London Marathon has completely changed my outlook. Here's why I love it and why you might too...
ASICS London Run Club – who, what, where, when and why you should join usby Becca B / Mar. 03, 2023
ASICS London Run Club is back for 2023, offering free community runs from the ASICS Oxford Street store, close to Marble Arch, every Wednesday and Friday. Come and join us for a social run in the heart of central London.
Five reasons to try parkrun tourismby Becca B / Mar. 14, 2023
Parkrun is a Saturday morning staple in my life. Nothing quite beats the feeling of getting your body moving, spending some time outdoors and catching up with friends - all before 10am. Sometimes there is even cake! Over the last few years I’ve found travelling to different parkruns aka parkrun tourism, to be an added bonus. If you’ve not yet jumped on the tourist train, here are a few reasons to try tempt you:
You Miss 100% of the shots you don't take. My ASICS FrontRunner Adventure 6 years onby Becca B / Feb. 20, 2023
The 2023 ASICS FrontRunner application phase opens 20 February. As one of the original UK and Ireland FrontRunners from way back in 2017, I wanted to take this opportunity to share my experience, the adventures and hopefully inspire you to join our wonderful FrontRunner Family.
Tips for running in a busy city like Londonby Becca B / Jan. 30, 2023
I'm an outdoorsy kinda girl, I grew up in a small village a few miles from Preston in Lancashire and I love nothing more than being outside and enjoying some fresh air and green spaces. However in 2017 I moved to London and fell in love with the city. My quiet, peaceful country lanes were replaced with busy, tourist packed areas, loads of traffic lights and buses galore.
5 ways to kickstart your running journey this Januaryby Becca B / Jan. 11, 2023
New year, new hobby? The physical and mental benefits of running are aplenty. Whether you're returning to running or thinking about taking those first tentative steps to start running here are some quick pointers to help get you started:
Getting back on trackby Becca B / Nov. 17, 2022
I was recently lucky enough to spend a week out in Portugal with some of my ASICS FrontRunner team mates from across the world. We enjoyed a week of swimming, running, cycling, surfing, dancing, mobility and so much more. As part of the week there were two track sessions on the agenda, and I’m not going to lie but this did fill me with a slightly uneasy feeling.
A year of consistent weightlifting: what I’ve learnedby Becca B / Aug. 29, 2022
Just over a year ago I headed back to the gym and the only way I can describe myself was- an unmotivated bag of nerves. However feeling the fear, doing it anyway and finding consistency has resulted in a real love for weightlifting. Here's what I've learned over the last year and why you should give it a go!
Our Sicilian Adventureby Becca B / Jun. 23, 2022
Last week 10 members of the ASICS FrontRunner UK Team joined teammates from around the world for a once in a lifetime trip in Catania, Sicily. Think endless sunshine, street raves, pizza oh and some running thrown in there too! Catch up with just some of our highlights…(its definitely a hard task to pick the stand out moments)
Earth Day 2022: Sustainable Swaps for Runnersby Becca B / Apr. 22, 2022
Every action, no matter how small, you take in order to protect the planet counts - every single one. From small sustainable swaps that reduce your consumption and decrease your environmental impact to larger lifestyle changes, lobbying, activism, research and more. Sometimes things may feel meaningless, especially when facing large environmental challenges, but actions matter- YOUR actions matter.
Race Recap: My First 70.3 Triathlonby Becca B / Feb. 13, 2022
On Saturday 14 August 2021 I completed my first 70.3 middle distance triathlon (half iron distance). It has taken me a LONG time to get round to writing this recap- mainly because once my event was over (and gone were the long training sessions) I needed time to enjoy riding the post race high, and I had lots of rest to catch up on! But here we are six months later and it FINALLY feels time to get all this down.
what to expect in the 48 hours before a marathonby Becca B / Sep. 30, 2021
What to expect in the 48 hours before a marathon? I guess this differs person to person based on your experience, expectations and goals, however I’ve found a pattern in terms of what I encounter in the lead up to a marathon.
Earth Day: Greenspace for Headspaceby Becca B / Apr. 22, 2021
The benefits of exercising or spending time outdoors are apparent in a wide range of literature and pages on the internet, but why is being outside associated with wellbeing? A 2018 Study by the University of East Anglia highlighted that exposure to greenspace can promote reduced risks of type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease, but greenspaces are becoming increasingly associated with mental health benefits and advantages to our greater wellbeing.
Running in Winter: Staying Motivatedby Becca B / Dec. 18, 2020
As the days get shorter, nights longer and the weather a bit more unpredictable, its natural for your motivation to plummet alongside the winter temperatures. With many gyms on restricted opening hours/ limited access, more and more of us will remain training outside despite the weather taking a wintery turn.
Winter Running Safetyby Becca B / Nov. 09, 2020
Winter running throws up many challenges, gone are the long summer days and for many this means training after dark. Sometimes I feel frustrated that I have to think about (or in this case write) about staying safe when running in the dark, we should be able to run and be safe, but the sad reality is that safety is paramount as the days get shorter.
World Ekiden 2020by Becca B / Oct. 18, 2020
When a group of people come together to share a dream or goal amazing things can happen. Now more than ever team work, staying connected and supporting each other are extremely important, and whilst many of us can't physically run together we can virtually interact through shared experiences like virtual racing, challenging each other and mutual accountability and motivation.
Being a More Eco-Friendly Runnerby Becca B / Jun. 05, 2020
World Environment Day is celebrated each year on the 5th June. It is a day to inspire positive change, highlight key environmental challenges and promote widespread action. The theme for 2020 is Biodiversity. Biodiversity is the collective term for life on Earth. All living things exist within communities, otherwise known as ecosystems, these encompass the oceans, deserts, forests even cities. The combination of these varying ecosystems is biodiversity and humans rely on this to survive.
Tips to Help You Start Running in Lockdown?by Becca B / May. 06, 2020
With gyms, pools and communal workout areas closed more and more people are turning to running as a method to get fit or stay fit during the COVID-19 lockdown period. For those new to exercise this can be exceptionally daunting- with footpaths seemingly busier than ever, and for those who already engage in regular exercise but have never run before it can be a tough serving of just how demanding running can be. But that isn’t to put you off!
My Top Tips for Getting into Runningby Becca B / Mar. 06, 2020
So you’re ready to start your running journey? Or perhaps you’re not quite ‘ready’ but you’re keen to give it a go? WELCOME to the running community and congratulations on having the bravery to try something new and push yourself out of your comfort zone.
Barbados Marathon Weekend Race Recapby Becca B / Jan. 20, 2020
The Run Barbados International Marathon Weekend offers an ideal collection of destination races for anyone looking to enjoy some winter sunshine whilst pursing their running agenda. The Marathon, Half Marathon, 10k, 5k and mile fun run take place as part of the Run Barbados International Marathon weekend with the selection of races over the course of three days in early December. On the 4 December 2019 I headed out on an invited press trip with Visit Barbados to participate in the marathon
A Beginner's Guide to Trail Runningby Becca B / Dec. 11, 2019
2019 has been the year I fell in love with trail running. It’s the perfect way to combine my love of running and fitness with the great outdoors. I’m still very new to this world and use the trails as a way to escape my city life, immerse myself in nature and take a break from hardcore training, instead using it as a way to switch off and relax.
FrontRunner Trail & OCR Meet in Munichby Becca B / Jul. 15, 2019
I write this from about 30,000 ft on the flight home from an incredible weekend in Munich for the ASICS FrontRunner International OCR and Trail meet up. This is the second time today I’ve been above the clouds. It’s been a weekend filled with plenty of mud, plenty of mountains and some incredible memories made. We’ve also had the chance to really put the incredible new Fujitrabuco pro shoes through their paces.
ASICS FrontRunner Application Questions Explainedby Becca B / Feb. 06, 2019
So you're interested in being an ASICS FrontRunner?! That is great news! Before you begin your application, here are some of the most frequently asked questions to help address any queries you may have about the team. Good luck and we can't wait to read your application.
If You Run, You're a Runner!by Becca B / Feb. 06, 2019
Back in February 2019 when I was collating some frequently asked questions about the ASICS FrontRunner team ahead of the application phase I noticed the same questions coming up again and again- people questioning if they were a ‘real runner’ because they only ran X distance or X pace, or hadn’t done a marathon, or were new to running.
ASICS Majorca Training Campby Becca B / Oct. 21, 2018
During mid October, ASICS Frontrunner team members from 9 countries united in Majorca for the second ASICS training camp of 2018. It was a week of fun, friendships, running, cycling, hiking, stretching, swimming, ice cream and losing Pete on a mountain (twice).
I am a Marathonerby Becca B / May. 16, 2018
I am a record breaking world major marathoner. What’s your super power? On the 22 April 2018 I battled the heat to complete the hottest ever London Marathon and cross the finish line after 26.2 miles for the very first time. It wasn’t easy, but one lesson I have learned in life if that you should always chase your dreams, even if that means you chase them for 26.2miles.
Who run the world? Girlsby Becca B / Mar. 08, 2018
Queen Beyonce said so herself. Girls run the world! The mothers, step-mothers, grandmothers, daughters, sisters, aunts, cousins, nieces, friends, in laws, wives, girlfriends, here is to strong, independent and incredible women everywhere. Women have been pivotal in the course of history: from Rosa Parks to Emmeline Pankhurst, Malala Yousafzai to Marie Curie. Thursday 8 March 2018 is International Womens' Day, a chance to celebrate the achievements of women the world over.
FrontRunner UK: A Year Onby Becca B / Mar. 01, 2018
As we round off our first year of the ASICS FrontRunner UK team and look ahead to welcoming our new team mates at the upcoming launch weekend in Birmingham it is time to reflect on the crazy family and all the adventures being an ASICS FrontRunner brings.
20 Chicken Nuggets and a Shock Half Marathon PBby Becca B / Oct. 09, 2017
Half marathoner is a title I’ve recently added to my running CV. Having only completed my first half marathon in Swansea on the 25 June this year, I’m still enjoying the challenges this distance has to offer whilst learning a lot about myself as a runner, my stamina, nutrition tactics, race strategy and that mental battle that comes with distance running. My previous two halves have been steep learning curves and I’ve been lucky to learn from the best. Aaron is a half marathon machine, he’s the Yoda of race strategy and knows how to attack those 13.1miles and throw absolutely everything into it and I’ve been lucky to have him by my side for my previous two halves, but my third outing I was ready to go it alone and push my boundaries, resulting in a shock PB that I never saw coming!
A Northerner Running The British 10K in Londonby Becca B / Oct. 18, 2017
Having recently relocated to London I am embracing every opportunity, and when I was offered the chance to run the Virgin Sport British 10K with my fellow ASICS FrontRunner UK team mates Marcus and Corey, I was filled with so much excitement.