After twelve solid weeks of dedicated training, the day had finally arrived for the Wigan 5k.

I started training for this event just after Christmas and my target was a sub 20 minutes. I will be totally honest, this was a time that I never would have even dreamed being capable of if Pita Nadine and Mark Mccrea had never put it into my head in the first place. They said it to me once after a track session and ever since then it has been a secret dream in my head. At the time, I had just started to train for my 100k Ultra Marathon, Race to the Stones. I knew getting quicker and thinking of a sub 20 minute 5k was something that I had to forget about until my ultra was done and dusted. So once Race to the Stones was completed and my body had time to recover I started to think about achieving the times that were still just a dream in my head.

When I first looked at my training plan I did think s**t !! ha ha. Some of the weeks on the plan looked hard and I knew I would be pushing my body for sure. I was ready for it and prepared to work as hard as I possibly could. I wanted to prove to myself that I could do this but most importantly I wanted to prove it to Pita. She has put so much time and effort into helping me and making me believe in myself, I really didn’t want to let her down. This was more important to me than achieving my goal. Having somebody else believe in you before you believe in yourself is a good feeling and the main thing that kept me going through all the tough training sessions. Luckily, I managed to stick to my plan without anything getting in the way. This was until a couple of weeks before the race when I injured my metatarsal bone on my left foot. After a few adjustments and a few extra rest days my foot got me through it. I wasn’t too concerned about the adjustments to my plan as Pita said to me that the hard work has already been done. This made me feel much better.

So back to the morning of the 5k and when my alarm went off in the morning I got that excited giddy feeling in my stomach, like you do when you’re going on holiday. I really didn’t know what to expect that day, I was very excited but extremely nervous. After all the encouragement I had from Pita over the past few months I did start to believe in myself but maybe not as much as I should have done. I believed that I had the sub 20 in me but I didn’t think it would be today. I thought it would be something that would take me much longer to achieve, but I had done all that I could so was prepared to give it my best shot. I met Pita bright and early at the Poachers and it was a nice surprise to have Gareth Bell there too. I have developed a brilliant friendship with Pita and Gareth since joining Red Rose Road Runners so it meant a lot to have them both by my side. We arrived nice and early and it was lovely as always to see so many other Red Rose Road Runners in Wigan taking part in either the 5k or the half marathon that was on that day too. About an hour before the race my nerves really started to kick in. I was attempting to put on my race number and my hands were shaking like a leaf. I am not sure if Pita and Gareth noticed this as they were quietly enjoying a coffee and a chat. I hoped they couldn’t see or feel how nervous I was anyway, ha ha ! 45 minutes before the start, off we went to do my warm up. I felt I had a good warm up and this gave me a chance to clear my chest from the nasty cough that I’d had for a few days prior to Sunday. Hopefully now with a clear chest and clear mind I was raring to go……..

It felt like ages when I was stood on the start line waiting to go. It was actually a whole ten minutes in total but felt much, much longer than this, ha ha ! On the final ten second countdown, it felt like my legs started to shake I was that nervous. I know it sounds strange but I’ve run 100k before and I was nowhere near as nervous as that moment on the start line. I think I was so nervous because I didn’t know what was going to happen, I probably didn’t believe at this moment still that I could do it but I wanted it so badly. Off we went so I tried to just zone out and push best I could. The first mile marker seemed to appear so quickly, I looked at my watch – 5.53! The fastest mile I had ever run. Normally at this point I would then think “oh no I’ve gone off to quick” etc but I didn’t let these thoughts get into my head. At this point, all I thought was Pita saying to me “stay focused”, so that’s what I did. Then out popped my dad with his loud cheers of support and encouragement. It felt great to see my dad at this point and his cheers certainly pushed me along. We turned around at the half way point as the race was out and back. I remember seeing Nicola Hughes at this point and we both gave each other a little wave of encouragement. I knew Nic was hoping for a PB too and the way she was going I knew a PB was certainly on the cards for her if she kept it up. The next marker I remember seeing was the 4k marker. I don’t remember what time my watch said at this point but I do remember thinking “I’m gonna do it!! 1k left, which is only 3.5 to 4 minutes left to push. Come on, you can do this”. So I just went for it and pushed best I could (across the park I could still hear my dad screaming “Come on Carla”) ha ha ha !!! I turned the corner and there was the FINISH LINE! I could hear Mark, Gareth and Pita screaming at me and it made me feel happy to see their faces as I was pushing for the sprint finish.

I stopped my watch and when I looked, it said 19.21! I actually couldn’t believe it, not only had I reached my target but I had smashed it! I was so happy and so proud of myself. I think I was in shock more than anything. I couldn’t wait to see Pita and shout I smashed it !!! ha ha! Pita and I had a massive cuddle and a cry at the finish line. I felt very emotional and happy to of done us so proud. My dad was so happy too and it was ace to see his face just gleaming with pride!! I’m sure he had a little cry too, which as a man he probably won’t admit to, ha ha !! Hard work, dedication, belief and friendship is what got me through this. I cannot thank you enough Pita for everything that you have done for me and here is to our next challenge and the one after that, then the one after that, ha ha ha. You ain’t getting rid of me now 🙂

A big well done to everybody else who ran at Wigan. I want to say a special ‘well done’ to Nic Hughes who also got a massive PB and knocked over a minute off her last PB in a time of 21.04. Well done girl, it has been amazing to watch how much you have improved since I first met you. Keep it up 🙂

Since my result on Sunday I have proved to myself that my dedication really did pay off. So, with more dedication and a little bit more belief I will be ready to smash my next challenge. If I could say one good thing that I have taught myself in my life it would be that I am a fighter and I don’t give up. I tried to become a mummy for nearly a decade until I finally got blessed with my little miracle Harry, so this proves to me anything is possible and I will never give up. Now I am happy and very lucky to be a mummy I can now put all that fighting energy into my running, a sport that I love very much and have a massive passion for.