Rising to the challenge

Tom-Rose-pic1 Tom-Rose-pic2

Ever thought about what it’s like to run a half marathon? Tom Rose, 24, ran the Brighton Half Marathon for Rockinghorse last month. He was one of 61 runners who took part in the annual event for us, helping to raise an amazing £20,119 for our ongoing projects at the Royal Alexandra Children’s Hospital (the Alex) in Brighton.

Tackling his first-ever half marathon, Tom has shared with us his personal challenge event experience.

Here is his story…

“Whilst in full flow of accepting challenges in 2015 – I signed up for the Brighton Marathon. A decision that was made with no real consideration to how much it would impact my life. It’s only since New Year, that I really started to take training semi-seriously. Sunday’s can’t just be hangover days anymore…they’re meant to be for long runs. I’ve never been a distance runner, in fact, I’ve always despised it. Give me a 100m sprint all day – anything over 200m and I’m struggling. I think prior to starting this challenge the longest I ever ran is 5k – so not a great base to start with.

“Training consisted of running three times a week on Brighton seafront, gradually increasing the distance of the run. It’s a frustrating process, some weeks you think you’ve made some real progress, only for your body to tell you ‘no you haven’t’ a week later. Add on the fact, my body doesn’t seem to agree with running. First my knee then my shins – everything seems to be in pain post runs. Having said that, there’s something therapeutic about running – particularly after a stressful day at work. Plug in, listen to your tunes and just free your mind.

“It was my aim to be smashing half marathons well before Brighton Half Marathon race day came around. However, injuries and illness for the two weeks leading up to the event meant I couldn’t really train. The closest I got was an 11 mile run on a Monday evening before my body completely shut down and gave up on running. I was hoping to complete 13 miles on this night, but I crashed. The body had nothing left to give and I had to walk myself home, tail between my legs.

“My preparation didn’t feel quite ideal coming into race day. The 6.30am alarm in order to get my porridge down me was painful but the view walking towards the start line was special. It was a perfect day to run – not too hot, not too windy. Over 8,000 people turned up to the start line – way more than I ever imagined. All the runners filled the waiting time by doing their stretches, jogging on the spot, looking the part. I tried to join in at this point, and act like I knew what I was doing. There’s only so many times you can stretch your quads though!

“The run itself started off feeling quite easy – the atmosphere of the day and nervous energy seemed to make the first few miles feel comfortable. I ran past a gentleman, running without shoes on and thought now there’s a challenge! I don’t know how this man got on, but he was cruising at the 5 mile point, fair play to him. I wanted to complete the run without stopping or walking, so I would find myself just getting into a zone where I would just be looking down on the road just concentrating on each step. In this zone, I became completely unaware of the crowd supporting me, no idea what song I was listening too and not really sure if I was thinking about anything at all!

“The 11 mile point came along. Where in training I had previously failed. At this point, I was no longer in the zone. I was exhausted – using every little boost from the crowd to pick me up. Touching signs for energy, taking sweets from strangers for sugar and shouting at my legs to keep running (followed by a few laughs by runners around me). It was hard by this point.

“But as I jogged towards the Brighton i360, I noticed the time I was doing. I didn’t really care what time I finished in, but at the 12 mile mark my running app told me I was at 1 hour 51 minutes. At this point, I did start to care what time I finished in. Could I finish under 2 hours? Could I run an 8 minute mile?

“No. My jelly legs had nothing left in them and my face was pulling all sorts of expressions. The crowd cheering made it possible to get to the end and the feeling at the finish line was an emotional relief. 2 hours 1 minute and 16 seconds. A time in hindsight, I’m very happy with. At this point, the thought of running double the distance is terrifying. Two days later, I couldn’t walk down a set of stairs without a gasp of pain coming from my mouth.

“I must thank Rockinghorse Children’s Charity for letting me represent them in the race, and for the free killer post-race massage. They’re always looking for supporters to take part in other running challenges, so feel free to join me by taking part in an event and represent a good cause.”

How can we support you with your challenge event?

Taking part in a charity challenge event, such as a half marathon, can seem daunting. However, here at Rockinghorse, we aim to make things that little bit easier for you by helping you make the most of your fundraising opportunity.

We have a dedicated challenge event coordinator, Hannah, who is able to assist every step of the way. She can help you set up a dedicated fundraising page on JustGiving and advise with how best to promote your page so those donations can start rolling in.

We’ll also provide you with a Rockinghorse t-shirt or vest to keep, and any extra fundraising materials you may need, such as balloons or collection boxes. At the Brighton Half Marathon and full Brighton Marathon, we’re even able to offer a much-needed post-race massage, as well as providing cheering points along the course to give our runners an extra boost.

Are you interested in taking part in an event for Rockinghorse? Check out our events page by clicking here to see what we’re getting involved in, and give us a call on 01273 330044 or email hannah.seltzer@rockinghorse.org.uk to secure your place.

Huge thanks to Tom for sharing his story.

(Pictures courtesy of Stephen Johnson Photography)
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