30 Before 30!

Ashleigh is aiming to complete an incredible 30 events before the tender age of 30. We had a chat with her to find out more about the challenge she’s set herself. Here’s her inspiring story…

Ashleigh, please introduce yourself and tell us a bit about you

My name is Ashleigh and I turned 30 in September. I have a 10-year-old son, Ryan, who loves seeing me bring home my medals, and my awesome husband Charlie who has been supporting me at the start and finish of each of my half marathons (often in the freezing cold)! We’re going to do a Christmas or New Year Park Run together and have entered a Virtual Race so that my son can win a medal for himself. I’m hoping to pass on my love of running but at the moment video games are at the forefront of his mind!

I moved to England from Northern Ireland just over five years ago to complete my teacher training in London. I met my husband and moved to Ely where I’m now a teacher in a special educational needs school. It’s such a rewarding job – every day is different, and I just love it!

So, what’s your motivation to take part in the Saucony Cambridge Half Marathon?

In January 2018, I made a New Year’s Resolution to lose weight (as many of us do every year) and I got into running. I was just doing a mile here and there to begin with. I just loved the feeling of achievement after finishing a run, and promised myself that I would maintain this healthier lifestyle so that I could start my 30s as fit and healthy as possible.

The head teacher at my school suggested that we get a team together at work and run a half marathon – which we ran in September at the Ely Monster Half Marathon. I would have loved to get a faster time than the head teacher, but he is speedy and beat me by 10 minutes!

I completed one half marathon four years ago in 2 hours and 20 minutes, and it was excruciating. But I thought that now I knew how hard it was, I could do it again! Training commenced with two of my amazing friends from work – Laura and Verity. I really couldn’t have done it without them as during the week I was finding it difficult to get motivated. They were there with their silly chat and banter to encourage me to get out and go for a run with them. We regularly went to Milton Park Run which was great, but it got to the point where a 3-mile run wasn’t cutting it anymore.
I had heard that Littleport were now hosting their own Park Run so I ran from Ely to Littleport and then completed the Park Run – which was a total of 10 miles!

Even after the 7-mile run to Littleport, I was managing a sub 25 minute 5k and ended up getting into a bit of a competition with myself to see how hard I could push…and so the 12 half marathons in 12 months idea came up.

I thought it would be brilliant to do to celebrate turning 30 (which I was a little bit frightened of, if I’m honest!). When telling people about the challenge, it ended up changing to 30 events for my 30th. I also joined a running club, of which I’m now a trained leader and I support women in developing their confidence running 5k.

That’s amazing! How many events have you completed so far?

From September to November I have completed four half marathons – Ely, Wimpole, Great Eastern Run and Lode (three in three weeks and then a two week break before the fourth). At Ely Half Marathon, I ran a PB of 1 hour 52 minutes – almost half an hour off my previous PB. Wimpole was hard work as it was hilly, so I ran a slower time. The Great Eastern Run was a miserable day – I was completely soaked through before the race had even begun but I managed another PB. This time 1 hour 47 minutes. Lode was a good route – I really enjoyed it but beforehand I was a bundle of nerves! My time for this one was close to my PB – about 30 seconds off! So now I’m looking forward to my next half marathon which will be in Victoria Park, London in December.

I have completed 8 of my 30 events so far including some virtual races which I run with my friends to raise money for a variety of charities – including Cancer Research UK, Mind and Pseudomyxoma Peritonei to name a few.

How’s the training going?

Training isn’t really happening as I have entered so many events! But my half marathon times are improving and I’m hoping that the Saucony Cambridge Half Marathon will allow me to get a new PB. I guess each of the events I’m completing is the training enough (fingers crossed!).

What are you most excited about for the Saucony Cambridge Half Marathon?

If there was some music or something around mile 7/8 I would just love it – it’s usually where I’m beginning to think “why on earth have I signed up for this?!”. I’m really looking forward to running around the beautiful city of Cambridge and feeling the camaraderie of the runners who will undoubtedly support each other when things get tough on the course! Every single one of those smiles or words of encouragement from the marshals on the course just gives such a boost. It’s an amazing feeling!

What Advice would you give others looking to take on the Saucony Cambridge Half Marathon?

If I had any advice for those running the CHM it would be to follow a training plan- there was a really good one sent via email from CHM.  Also, on the day- just keep going! Have fun and enjoy looking at the Cambridge scenery.

Thanks so much, we can wait to see you on the start line!