13.1 miles… it’s a long way, right? Phew, you get tired just thinking about it… Last week, one of our wonderful ‘Snails, Gemma, completed her very first half marathon – the Leeds Half Marathon.  It’s not that long ago that Gemma took up running, so here she is to tell us her story about going from zero to half marathon hero…

“Hi I’m Gemma, 40 years old, married for 3 years to Stephen, Mum to Amy 18 and Evie 6 with our little dog Poppy. Work as a Nursery Nurse in Eldwick for the past 3 years, enjoy running obviously, walking, fundraising, and crafts.

So my running adventure started New Years Day 2018 after promising myself that I had to do something to get fit, I’d done the gym, done the spin classes, walked and cycled across the county but life had got the better of me, time to take control again.

7am in the morning 1st January 2018, I took my little self off on my first running mission all geared up ready to go, ran to the end of the road, turned back ran home, exhausted. “I can’t do it I exclaimed” in total resignation.  “Just keep doing a bit at a time,” was what Stephen advised.
So the next day, determined to shift the mince pies, chocolates, and Christmas indulgence of the previous weeks, on went the layers, the ill fitting trainers, the headphones and off I went again. This time I got further; all the way to the railway bridge and back without stopping. Surprised myself, I was chuffed, and that was it, I was hooked.

Bit by bit, little by little, I increased my distances daily, increased the runs weekly, purchased better running shoes, leggings,  and when I couldn’t run because of bad weather or other commitments, I would grump.  I needed to run, and get out of the house. Stephen had football and golf, the 2 girls had their own activities and lives, I needed to go into my own world………..

This was all well and good and I was enjoying my running but it was sometimes a lonely place and there is only so many times you can listen to the same songs and do the same routes I needed some variety. My sister in law Sarah told me she had just completed her C25K with the Trail Snails and done her parkrun finale. I’d never heard of the Trial Snails or parkrun before but liked the idea of running with a group with people.
 I booked on for a run with Trail Snails to see what it was like and I loved it, and now look forward to each and every run I can book on to.  The same week I decided to give Bradford parkrun a go.  Loved it, and still love it, always trying to achieve that PB at the different parkruns. The ones I have completed so far are Bradford Lister Park, Bingley Myrtle Park, Keighley Cliffe Castle, Blackpool Stanley Park and as far away as Teignmouth Promenade whilst visiting friends.  It has now gotten to the point where if I am travelling somewhere on a weekend I look for the nearest parkrun that I can to be a tourist at, told you I was hooked.  I introduced my youngest Evie to Junior parkrun so I could get my steps in as it at the time it was all about the steps and the fitbit challenges, even got Stephen to get onboard with marshalling, and he does a great job as tail walker.

And so it began, Stephen hardly saw me, out running in a morning before work, booked on in an evening with the Trail Snails after work, I was loving it, social running with new people and making new friends whilst getting fit how could it get any better. The answer was challenges, and not just little challenges, but big stupid ones that would scare me.

After completing several virtual challenges for medals 5ks, 10ks (which are my favourite) and monthly challenges I stepped it up a little and did a 15K race; Temple Newsam, Leeds, and it nearly killed me, (those hills) but undeterred I wanted more!  At Bingley parkrun when Trail Snails took over I volunteered to be a 30 min pacer, (with added unicorn) so  another accomplishment achieved.

Which brings us nicely to my first Half Marathon, something I never thought would be possible. Was I bananas? Yep. Did I train? Yep. Did I panic?  Yep. I got overexcited the week before but on the day was completely calm and ready for the task which lay ahead. Supported by new running buddies from Trail Snails and the great advice and tips from Sam and Dan, I completed the Leeds Half Marathon in 2hours 21 minutes. Chuffed was an understatement.

It has only just sunk in,  as I write this what I have achieved from zero running to a half marathon in 17 months, whilst also raising money for a variety of charities. Thanks to all that have donated, bought buns, etc….. So I am actual proof that if you put your mind to it you can achieve anything with the right guidance, support and encouragement.”

From Zero to Half Marathon Hero…

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