Surprise can be the greatest feeling

A few months ago I did my first ever indoor track event (3000m) and was ever so surprised to walk away with the bronze medal.

Next up for the RHUL team was an outdoor track event. It was part of the London Athletics series and held at Tooting Bec Athletics track.

I thought, seeing as the 3000m went so well, I’ll do that one again… However, this event wasn’t on until later on in the afternoon, meaning that I wouldn’t get back in time for the Sports Awards Ball that night. Now, I couldn’t miss that, could I!?

The 10,000m was the first event. Doing this would mean I would get back in time for the party.

Did I want to run 25 laps of a track at race pace?

No.

Did I sign up?

Yes.

Why? – it was going to be my last ever competition, competing for RHUL so I was desperate to do something. Who cares if I come last, I thought. I just want to give it a go…

Turns out (because of the awards) no one else from RHUL entered. Just me. But my lovely friend Kate (secretary of the club) joined me for moral support.

“So what event are you doing?” another competitor asked. I replied with “unfortunately the 10,000.”

They then looked at Kate, waiting for her answer…

“I’m her coach.”

Her quick wit made me burst with laughter – but the girls from the Kings College team didn’t quite know what to say.

I warmed up and slowly felt my stomach fill with churning nerves. “What am I doing?” I thought to myself. This has the potential to be very embarrassing. Everyone else had big teams, cheering them on in the stands. I had lonely Kate, doing the odd ‘woop.’ I was very grateful that she had come with me, but the fact that only two had shown up to represent RHUL and the fear of coming last would make RHUL a laughing stock…

Thoughts turned to my Dad.
“You can do it lass.”
“Give it your all.”
“Pain is just a weakness leaving the body.”

I’ll be blunt – being such an ‘under-dog’ spurred me on to really, really give it a shot.

The gun went.

First lap I was third. Then thoughts turned to the potential of also getting a PB…I went with the tactic of constantly checking in with myself, asking: ‘am I running the best I possibly could be, right this second?’

If the answer was no, I ran harder. Who cares if I end up burning out. Sometimes you’ve got to be brave and really push yourself in order to achieve what you never thought was possible.

I realised that, right that second, I could be going faster than the two girls in front. So I overtook.

I then tried to forget about anyone else and just think about how I was running at that very second. I tried not to think about what was to come, or how far behind me the other girls were.

Everytime I went past the crowd I would hear Kate’s little cheer. A few seconds later a roar would burst out for the girl behind me. But each lap, the seconds between the little cheer and the roar grew and grew.

I could win this. I thought to myself. But I also didn’t allow myself to get too excited because I just couldn’t quite believe it – surely she will have some sprint finish at the end and over-take me. But the louder the cheers were for her, the harder I pushed.

When the 25th lap finally came, I enjoyed ever millisecond of pain that sprint finish gave me.

I took home the gold for RHUL and achieved a PB of 39.44

The element of total surprise and feeling of true accomplishment made that possibly my favourite race to date.

Of course, I couldn’t have done it without Kate. The thought of making her proud at the end, really helped me keep pushing. And, what good is winning if you’ve got no-one to give you the biggest hug as you cross the finish, squeezing your ribs. And seeing their eyes glisten with true pride.

Run to get fitter, run to get faster, run to feel happier.

All the best,

Liv x

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