In March this year I received a call from Nick Groocock informing me that I had attained a qualifying time to enter the half marathon in the island games, which this year was to be held in Gotland in Sweden. He gave me a quick brief on what would be expected of me, asked me to have a think about it and get back to him asap.
I am a casual runner with little race experience, so from my point of view, I couldn’t see how I could possibly be ready to enter a race like this in such a short space of time.
My husband thought it was a fantastic opportunity and convinced me to say yes.
Forward 16 weeks of training and I am standing in Gotland, in my red white and blue Isle Of Wight tracksuit, I have never been a tracksuit kinda girl, but after living in one for the week, I think I am converted!!
Each island had a uniform in the form of a tracksuit but I think the IOW one was the smartest.
We stayed in a beautiful little town called Visby, Visby is the capital of Gotland and is surrounded by a medieval stone wall, inside the wall the streets are cobbled which can be tricky under foot especially when they are wet.
I think from the moment the plane touched down in Gotland my adrenaline started pumping. Due to the size of the Isle of Wight team we were split into two hotels, our athletics team stayed together in a hotel called The Gute which was very central to everything and near to the games village where most of the restaurants were situated.
The half marathon was the very last event of the whole games, which meant dealing with a week of nervous energy, though on the plus side also having a whole week to taper off properly.
I spent the week following our other IOW teams and athletes in events like Triathlon, mountain biking, steeplechase, hammer, 3000m, gymnastics, high jump, and long jump. We got to watch some incredible athletes, the level of competition was insane.
The morning of the race was the best I had felt all week, perhaps that was because it was finally race day.
I was confident that in the time I had, I had done all I could and whatever the outcome it didn’t matter as long as I tried my best. I knew I had tapered properly, eaten well, stayed re-hydrated and slept well now all that was left was to run.
Maybe it’s just me but on the start line of a race all the other women always look faster, fitter and more prepared than me.
I didn’t really have a plan as such, I just wanted to see how it felt sticking with the lead girls and take it from there. It was raining hard and windy, the wind was on the nose all the way along the coast, which made it tougher but the first lap kind of flew by, when all of a sudden, I realised that I was still with the lead group and it had gone from ten ladies to four.
By mile eight two of the girls began to accelerate and managed to brake away, and although initially they weren’t miles ahead the gap was growing all the time. Around mile ten the third girl broke away, leaving me to chase her tail, but as hard as I tried I couldn’t seem to close the gap between us.
The final part of the race was a lap of the stadium which was awesome, and a great way to finish a race.
I have absolutely loved the opportunity to compete in the Island Games and would do it again with out hesitation.