Jennifer Harrower - "Do not let anyone tell you, you are not a runner!"
My journey from beginner to international runner!!!
I have been asked to share my running story, no, not just so you an all have a laugh but to show others who may be thinking of running that you can do it. If I can, anything is possible.
I was 54 years old and overweight when one day in Sept 2012 feeling very fed up I read a small article in the paper saying Wrekin Road Runners were doing a beginners running course every Tues for 10 weeks and at the end, we would be able to run 5km. I rang the number immediately to be told by the lovely Pauline that I could do it and she would see me at the ice rink the next week. What had I done? I had only done a bit of running to keep fit in my thirties but Pauline had told me we would do a run /walk program to start with. I was determined to stick to it for the full 10 weeks and see what happened.
I was made to feel very welcome and soon started to look forward to meeting up with my fellow newbies each week. Annie Bradley, Hazel Nielsen, Vicci Allen, Jo Cartwright and a few others soon became good friends and although we were terrified each week, we kept each other going. The leaders were all great turning out in all weathers, it was freezing that winter. Pauline, Dave Isaac, Belinda, Julie Hartland and others, all encouraging us. Then Dave told us that the planed 5 km graduation run had to be cancelled but we could do the Telford 10 km instead!!!! Never have I been so nervous but because it was around the town park that we had used in training runs we thought we would give it a go. I was delighted to finish that run; 10km seemed a massive achievement.
Since then I have gone on to do many other races. I still get very nervous and have to force myself to face the fear and enter runs. I always need the loo as all my running buddies will testify. Sometimes I have a good run and in others I struggle, same as everyone else I suppose, we all have our own battles. In spring 2013 I was on a club run when Mick the Snip asked if I had entered lake Vyrnwy half marathon, I nearly choked, me do a half you must be joking it was too far for the likes of me. However, Mick said he thought I could do it so I took the plunge and entered, it was a moment of madness and I was dreading the race. I started training and increasing the distance of my Sunday run slowly. The day came and I was so nervous, John my husband was his usual brilliant self, telling me just to go and enjoy it and if I had to walk, so be it. It was pouring down as we all set off on that 13.1-mile run; I started steady and just kept going. I loved it, and came in with a big smile in 2.15, which is still my fastest half so far. I did have to book the Mon off work to recover as I could not walk down the stairs after……..
In Oct 2014, I booked on a running holiday in Portugal. What a fantastic experience. We ran every day with the climax on the last day of me running 15 miles non-stop. My longest ever run. I went on my own and met some great people. I was not the slowest runner and still cannot believe I did it. I have also enjoyed marshaling at some great events. I have a cowbell and do travel. In fact I think I love marshaling more than I do running I am also available for birthdays weddings and Bar Mitzvahs and have I also told you I play the spoons !!!! But that is another story………..
Well that journey started 4 years ago; I am now 57 and still overweight! I still go to club every week, as it is hard to run on your own. I look forward to meeting up with people more than the run. Seeing Tracey Robinson, Diane Chadwick, Julie Spriggs, Debbi Morris and now a bunch of new friends Sharon Warren, Debra Hickman, Amanda Ellis, Dawn Fay and other too numerous to mention is just great. We also have a smashing Sun morning run group that meet at 8.30am every Sun where we have a lovely run from 6-11miles each week.
I still think it is so amazing when I say to people that I did an 8-mile run, it makes me feel like a real runner. I am not a fast runner and never will be, in fact over the last year my times have been getting slower but I am trying not to worry about time and I am just so grateful that I can run. I have never done a run that I have regretted, but I do regret it if I miss one.
Next Sun I am taking part in the Copenhagen half marathon, I only run one-half a year, as I still get very nervous so this will be my 4th half to date. My Imodium tablets are all packed and I think I am looking forward to it. I know I will be proud to run in my WRR vest.
I have so many people to thanks on my running journey, far too many to mention so please do not be upset if you have not seen your name, I always appreciate your company on a run. I do have to mention some of the faster runners that have helped me or had a kind word of encouragement, Bob Wilson who is a true gent, Mick the Snip and Rob Hurley who on many runs have come back to help me, Robin Hartley who always waits to help me get my leg over the style on the Wrekin!! Becky OJ who always has a quiet word of encouragement, Chairman Steve that looks after us all and gives up so much of his time, especially appreciated at track sessions and the 3 Amigos of Paul Spriggs, Lee Rudd and Darren OJ who have taken me on some magical mystery runs.
To all the new runners stick with it, you can do it and to all of you that have been running a while, do not give up. Just look at our lovely Kathy Ling. I want to be just like her.
Time for another update folks!
Well I am now 61 years old and still plodding. Slower than I was but grateful to be able to keep going.
I have done 6 half marathons now in total, the last 2 being in 2019 when I did London Landmarks with the fabulous Dawn Fay and Hazel Waterhouse and then Manchester half with my lovely sister. It was her first half and she was amazing.
Think that may be my last half now but I was pleased to have done them all.
Last year I had an amazing 60th birthday where I was able to celebrate with lots of WRR friends. My celebrations lasted a whole month.
My birthday was on a Saturday and I did Parkrun with lots of support, balloons and flowers from my pals. I even came first in my age category! I am now waiting to hear if I can have an operation, as I need both hips replacing. My running has slowed but I still run. I am always so grateful when I see that people turn up to run with me in the Chatty Sun morning run group, thank you all.
I have some new running friends now as all my old pals have moved on to bigger and better things. They now run full marathons and lots of them (Amanda Ellis I still think you are mad!) We also have some new leaders that I need to thanks for looking after me each week, Cerri Crabbe, Fantastic Dawn and Kev who keep us in line on a Thurs night, Sam Hall-Davies, Sue Goodall and occasionally Becky OJ who is always lovely as well as Donna and Sally who look after us on some runs.
I personally think the slower group is the best group of the lot as we have more time to talk. Not sure how much longer I will be able to keep going (everything hurts all the time) so this will be my last update on my running journey. As you can see no fantastic times or winning races for me but all great achievements on a personal level.
Thanks you all for your support and great company, could not have done it without you all. Do not let anyone tell you, you are not a runner!
Jennifer Harrower xx