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By Lucy Verrill

Middlesbrough Tees Pride 10K - 41:17

Tees Pride 10K - 2013

Let me start by saying I'm not writing this to show off or blow my own trumpet. Matthew suggested I contribute something because I've made such good progress as a runner in my three years at Holmfirth Harriers. He said that if I told my story it might encourage other people to get more involved or if not a member already, to join the club. So for the greater good of HHAC, I'm reluctantly going along with it.

I didn't start running until I was 31. I'd been good at long distance running at school but no one had ever picked up on my potential, probably because I was terrible at all other sports and so tended to keep in the background.

I broke my foot in a serious car accident in my early 20s and had to have some bones fused, so I had thought I'd never be able to run properly and didn't bother even trying. I was a gym member through most of my 20s and did weight training and fitness classes.

Fast forward to September 2010 and I'd moved to Halifax. I was a bit down in the dumps and miserable. My closest friend took it upon herself to drag me out for a run, whether I wanted to go or not (I didn't). She ignored my protests, bullied me into my long-abandoned gym kit and trainers and shoved me out of the door. We did around 3k walk/run - mostly walk - round the village. I puffed and panted all the way and when we got home I collapsed in the garden, convinced I needed oxygen. However I did feel the benefit in body, mind and spirit, and allowed her to drag me out again. After a couple of weeks I began to go out running on my own, and was really pleased with myself the first time I ran the 3k village circuit without any walking.

Meltham 10K in 57:01

Meltham 10K - 2011

I ran about 3 times a week for several weeks and extended my runs to 5 or 6 miles. I decided to enter a 10k race. I'd more or less covered that distance in training so thought I'd be OK.  I knew nothing about racing and so entered the one nearest to where I was living - Meltham 10K, January 2011. I got there and saw people warming up round the field. I thought they were mad - there was no way I was running one single step further than I had to! (Something I look back and laugh at now as I do my pre-race 2 mile warm up, drills and run-throughs.) I did some half-hearted stretches instead. I struggled all the way round the race, walking up the steepest hills, and finished in 57:01. I signed up for the Leeds half marathon and upped my training. I finished in 1:53:46, delighted.

I got a new job, moved to Holmfirth and joined the Harriers in June 2011. From my first run with Jackals 1, I was made to feel really welcome. Not only did I get to explore the area and find the good running routes, but I was meeting new people. It was great because apart from my work, I didn't know anyone in Holmfirth when I moved here.

Sheffield Half 2012

Sheffield Half Marathon - 2012

I ran more and more, including Sunday social runs (keep your eyes open on Facebook!), and my race times came down; five minutes quicker at Meltham 10K, 2nd handicap in the Club 5 2012 and 99:44 at Sheffield Half Marathon in 2012.

I started going along to Alwyn's Tuesday speed sessions, hanging on and struggling at the back of the 3rd group. But Alwyn's encouragement spurred me on. I did some of the road and cross country relays for the club. I had great fun at these events and benefited from the team spirit and atmosphere.

With Alwyn's coaching, I started to train more seriously and target races and my times came down further over the next year or so. Despite having 6 weeks off with injury in summer 2013 I entered the Chester marathon and trained for it in just 9 weeks. I was secretly targeting 3:30 but felt really good at the event, and ran a decent negative split to finish in 3:14:59, one second under the qualifying time for a Championship London Marathon place! I had already entered the Paris 2014 marathon at this point, and couldn't defer that entry, so I decided to run Paris this time as my London place would carry over to 2015. 

Lucy In the Chester Marathon - 3:14:59

Chester Marathon - 2013

Lucy in the Paris Marathon 2014

Marathon De Paris - 2014

I trained really hard over the winter of 2013/14, including PBs at the Stockport 10 (65:00) and Brass Monkey Half Marathon (86:28). My target for the Paris marathon was 3:05/3:06 but I didn't tell anyone as I didn't want to put the pressure on myself so when I ran it in 3:03:12 I was absolutely thrilled. I felt great all the way round (another negative split) and I think I ran an intelligent race, remembering Alwyn's coaching all the way.

Although I've only run the two marathons, I feel I've found 'my' distance and can't wait until the next one (spring 2015). I'm much better over longer distances than shorter, but my aim for this year is to get my 10K time down. I'm still learning to race, to know how hard I can push.

I've even had a few cash prizes for solo efforts as well as team wins. Hopefully now I'm a V35 I might get a few more! I know I'm not and never will be an elite runner, but I'm a decent club runner. My three year journey so far has been from a 57 minute 10k, to 29th placed woman at Paris Marathon (2nd British woman and 1st British V35).

I know I've come such a long way and I couldn't have done this without the coaching, encouragement, advice and support I've had from the club.

I would encourage anyone who might be wavering about joining HHAC to take that first step, it's the best thing I have done in years! Even if I hadn't won anything and hadn't progressed as much as I have, I'd still be encouraging people to come along and join us; it really has changed my life for the better.

Pre-2012 news, results & reports are on the old sites: 2009 to 2011, Pre-2009

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