If my neighbours have not yet guessed I am a runner from glimpsing me running up and down our street on a near daily basis, or from my washing line forever strung with shades of purple running gear, then they will have guessed it from the race numbers and packs which are frequently delivered through our shared letterbox. The most recent arrival from the postman/woman was that of my Lincoln 10k race number. Taking place on Sunday, this race has become a bit of a staple in my calendar; I literally will not miss it.
I love everything about the Lincoln 10k; there is just something about your hometown run that makes you want to take part even more than normal. Yes, I could run that route every single day if I wanted to, but it’s just not the same. I love seeing the streets I train on filled with runners and lined with supporters, and I love seeing the city where I live caught up in the running and race day bubble. The other great thing about being involved is that I always know so many other people taking on the distance, so it’s great to support and encourage each other.
This will be my fifth consecutive year running the Lincoln 10k; it was the first ever running event I entered in 2013; a last minute decision after being spurred on by a member of my gym who said I was wasted just running on a treadmill (probably should thank him for that!) For my first ever race and with little focused training I was very pleased to finish in 52.32. In 2014 I set out to run a sub 50 minute time and actually trained with the race in mind. I was therefore ecstatic to finish in 47.40 and as the 75th woman overall. 2015 saw me in the midst of my first ever marathon training cycle, and with my body adjusting to increasing mileage demands I knew I would not challenge a PB. I finished in 49.50, a pleasing sub 50 minute time. The 2016 event again saw my marathon running influence the race, this time with the 10k falling a week after I had completed the Manchester Marathon. This marathon was a particularly physically and mentally demanding experience, and come race day my body was not in a good way. I knew I had to be realistic about my capabilities and just wanted to finish with a smile and be happy; the 51.02 I ran feels almost irrelevant.
So onto 2017…the Lincoln 10k is once again not my focus race, with the London Marathon creeping very close. However for the first time in a number of years I am optimist about my chances of challenging my Lincoln 10k PB, which incidentally is also my overall 10k record. Although I am in marathon training and mileage demands are once again high, I feel my body is in good shape. My parkrun times have remained consistently fast, and at sub 22 minutes, are the quickest I have ever been running. I also set a new unofficial 10k PB whilst out on an interval training run a few weeks back without really intending to. This has all led me to believe I have PB potential in my body. However, the one thing I will not let the Lincoln 10k become is a race defined by time. I will love the day and it it involves whether I run a PB or not – as the past few years have shown.
'Never stop fighting and never stop running' - that is Kelly Herron's message, and a powerful one at that. Kelly was attacked and successfully fought off a male offender whilst she was out running as she stopped to used a public bathroom. Her full story is explained here, and if you are like me, I found both her actions and her commitment to resume with her marathon training inspiring.
Harassment whilst running is an issue and is seen in various forms. BBC Breakfast ran a story earlier this year about harassment females receive whilst out running (see here), and in 2015 Lindsey Swift's open letter to a white van driver who heckled her whilst she was out on a run (see here) received a lot of media attention. More recently, research by Runners World magazine identified a number of unsettling findings (see here), including the fact that almost half of the female runners surveyed had experience some form of harassment whilst running.
Whilst I am inspired and never will fail to be amazed by the actions and resilience of runners such as Kelly Herron, and all those who have also been defiant in the face of such abuse, the issue makes me angry. What upsets me the most is that harassment will understandably affect people. The thought that these disrespectful comments and offensive actions could prevent someone from taking a positive step to improve their physical and mental well-being, or from continuing to do what they love, is very sad. Anyone choosing to put time and effort into something worthwhile – running or any form of activity - should be encouraged, not abused, and should not be made to feel vulnerable or frightened.
The fact this issue seems to continually reemerge I feel sadly presents an image of the way certain people within society view women rather than the act of running itself. To change deep set views of women will take a long time, but stories of female runners such as Kelly Herron, and women in general defying these comments and acts can only help encourage people not to give up and not let the harassment and abuse win - never stop fighting and never stop running.
Alice's Adventures In Running Land
Read about my adventures in running land...