Spencer’s Dash

TWO hours before the Spencer’s Dash I decided I wasn’t running. All day at work, I’d felt ill. My body was aching. I was coughing, shivering, finding it hard to breathe and had sharp pains in my upper back.

‘I’m just jogging,’ I told Chris at lunchtime. ‘I’m not well.’

During the afternoon, I felt worse. I decided to listen to my body and do the sensible thing. Rather than take part in the Spencer’s, the third race in the series, I would stand on the sidelines and cheer on the others.

When I arrived home, Chris was dressed in his running kit, waiting for me.

‘I’m not running,’ I said, rubbing my back because it ached so much.

‘Not at all?’


I went upstairs, feeling a little fed up that my body was letting me down when my mind wanted to race. I’d been hoping for a PB. I’d even been on Instagram declaring that I was going for it. And here I was not even running.

‘We need to go,’ Chris called from downstairs. ‘We’re late.’

Perhaps I could jog round. My body wasn’t up to racing but it would get round at a slower pace. Without a second thought, I was changed into my kit.

‘I’ll run but I’ll take it steady,’ I said.

On the way there I was shivering, my teeth chattering. Feeling sorry for myself, I attempted a warmup. Not my usual drills and sprints, just a half-arse jog down the road and back.

‘I’m not well,’ I told everyone who’d listen.

When the race started, I went off slowly, everyone surging past. Halfway down the hill, I gave my usual big wave to my friend and her two-year-old twin girls who stand at their window waiting for me to pass.  

A group of runners from Penistone were on my shoulder and we had a little chat. ‘You past me on the final hill in the last race,’ one of them told me.

‘I’ll not tonight,’ I said. ‘Have a good run.’ And they moved ahead.

I’d got into a steady rhythm. It wasn’t quite the jog I’d intended, but it felt comfortable. We turned the corner and began the climb. Usually this is where my race starts. And I try to catch people on the hill.

Tonight, I focused on myself, one foot in front of the other. Despite my earlier symptoms, I felt strong. I caught up to the Penistone group, running behind them for a while, and felt strong enough to push on.

I wasn’t running at capacity, but I was working comfortably hard. I was even smiling. I breezed up the off-road climb and back onto the road.

At the Spencer’s Dash in June 2019

After an undulating three and a half miles, the final part of the course is uphill. I usually blast this so hard it takes me a good week to recover. Instead I maintained my rhythm.

I crossed the line in 28.44, not a PB and only five seconds faster than May’s race, but despite all the coughing and spluttering and aching it felt easier. I felt stronger. This doesn’t happen very often in a race, but I was pleased.

Just a little pleased!

I felt better physically and mentally. My body still ached, but not quite as much as earlier. Instead of feeling down, I felt energised and motivated. I was so happy I’d persuaded myself to run. With some rest and recovery, I’m hoping that next month a PB will be mine.

I celebrated with some cake. Why not?

Cake to celebrate

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