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  • Writer's pictureIrina Inayat

Virtual Run for VIA Charity | My First Solo Half Marathon

Running in 2020 proved to be all about a new normal and a new weird.

My usual target of 4 half marathons a year became questionable in March 2020 during COVID.

Although I continued running throughout the lockdown, the distances, I could motivate myself to run, rapidly evaporated. I like running with my running club, even though I often run on my own, the running club kept me in the right zone to continue to train and improve myself.

So, when Team Penn decided to organise a virtual run for VIA Charity, I saw it as an opportunity. It inspired me to up my game, and so I started training again for the longer distances necessary as preparation for a half marathon. It also motivated me to run solo.

My first SOLO half marathon.

On 12 July 2020, at 9 AM. I am at the start line. ...all by myself... (reminds me of the theme from a famous film) There are no crowds of runners… no usual cheering of supporters… no queues to the toilets….just me.

Irina is running her first solo half marathon for VIA Charity with Penn Group, Virtual Run
At the start line

The first 5 miles were easy. The beginning of the route was downhill, then along the very flat Tinsley Canals in Sheffield. I even bumped into my running trainees who had finished their 5km run with an excellent time of 34 min en-route.

The girls after their 5K

At the halfway point of 6.5 miles, I was still smiling and sending pictures to our comms manager, Maria, to share with the world and other runners of #pennrunVIA.

Irina Inayat running for the Penn Group, Virtual run for VIA Charity
Halfway through the half

However, somewhere around mile 8, I felt as if I had lost all my energy… I still needed to run another 5 miles. I kept chanting “Team Penn… Charity Run… Do it for charity”. I don’t know how, but it did help, and I managed to get to mile 10.

That, however, left me with three more miles ahead.

I then tried to motivate myself and say “You can always run 5 km” – that’s what I always say to myself in times of need such as these …BUT….it is much harder to convince yourself when you have already 10 miles behind you, and your legs are aching.

The last 3 miles to the finish line were some of the hardest miles I have run in my entire running life… I had nothing left in the tank.

It’s at times like these that you need support and encouragement. I was missing that usual support of crowds cheering which runners enjoy during longer distance races that get you to the finish line… But of course, there was none. It didn’t help at all that it was way too hot… (why is it always only THAT hot on race days?!).

But I guess the magic power of teamwork (even if it was just virtual) and running for charity did help me get to my finish line – and complete my first ever solo half marathon.

Irina Inayat has completed her half marathon virtual run with team Penn for VIA Charity
Tired, but happy... Made it through my half marathon

I am honestly very proud of being part of Team Penn who ran for Veterans in Actions Charity and raised £2,250.00 so far.

Should you wish to donate, you can do so until midnight 21st July, click HERE.

Thank you!


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