20 May 2019

Doing the Double at Sunderland Running Festival

At the beginning of this year I was contacted by Anji Andrews from Events of the North who asked me if I would be interested in taking part in the official launch of a new event, the Sunderland City 5K. I was delighted to be able to say yes and so, on a very cold morning in January, I and three other runners met the press and posed with Steve Cram for the official photos on the Northern Spire Bridge.  As a thank you for taking part I was offered two complimentary entries for the Sunderland Running Festival and decided that I would take part in both the 5K and 10K events.

During winter and spring, I have been concentrating on building up the length of my long slow runs and haven’t given any thought to speed work. As the Sunderland weekend approached, in my mind, both events would simply be a couple of nice easy training runs before the Ravenscar trail half marathon the following week.

I met up with Penny Ransom and Ruth Stokes before the 5K and we posed for photos and were quite relaxed. As the hooter sounded Penny and I set off together and took in the atmosphere as we crossed the graceful Northern Spire and saw the stream of runners ahead of us. As we passed the 1K marker we looked at our watches and said “Oops! Too fast, lets slow this down a bit”. As we reached 2K we turned sharp left and saw the surprise hill. I remembered the training tips from the Start Me Up session I had attended a few weeks earlier and set off up the hill with a determined effort, pulling a bit ahead of Penny. Soon I reached the high point of the course and then it was all downhill to the finish. It was thrilling to run back across the beautiful bridge and sprint across the line. Although it wasn’t a PB, it was certainly one of my fastest 5K times this year and I was so pleased with myself.

On Sunday morning I met up with the other DMOTR runners in Keel Square before heading to the start area. Again, I wasn’t thinking about speed at all. Having run such a good time the previous evening I was focussing on good running technique and enjoying the course as this was also a new event for me. As I crossed the start line my mantra was “Not too fast, not too fast” and I settled into a comfortable pace. Half a mile in and my shoelace came undone and I had to stop to fasten it.  After we left the city centre, we ran along the riverside passing the National Glass Centre and it was at this point that my bum bag began to slide down my hips and seriously affect my stride. Once again, I was forced to stop so that I could adjust the belt. I stopped for a third time at a feed station to take on an isotonic drink.

I hadn’t looked at my watch very often during the run but, as I crossed the Wear Bridge and spotted the 800m marker, I glanced at my watch and thought, “No, that can’t be correct”. Almost immediately I heard someone call out my name to cheer me on and shout out “not much further”. I picked up my pace and crossed the line, delighted to have completed my second run in less than 24 hours.  Within minutes I received a text message giving me my official time 64:43 – a new PB!



Of course, I have been thinking about the three stops I made and how much faster my time might have been, but truly, it really wasn’t about the PB. All those winter miles are paying dividends now and I am stronger than I was before. That is enough for me. The PB was a delightful, unexpected bonus.

Still dreaming, believing, achieving?

Yes, I am!

Ann Rush

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