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"Running the Great Bristol 10k" by Louise Webber

After nominating Southmead Hospital Charity’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) for charity of the year I was so excited when the result of the vote confirmed that NICU would be National Friendly’s charity of the year.

I know that National Friendly is a great company and that the staff are great people but I did not expect the extent of engagement and support for a cause so close to my heart. The relationship with Southmead Hospital Charity, our participation in the Bake Well Wednesday cake sales and my Head of Sales & Marketing’s swimathon from the first quarter of the year has been incredible.

I wanted to get involved personally so decided to put my name down for the Great Bristol 10K run. I absolutely hate running so I knew this would be a challenge and I questioned whether I would be able to complete such a race.

Using my gym membership I started training earlier in the year by doing treadmill runs and aimed to do 3K on the treadmill a couple of times a week. I used this method for two months, each time aiming to knock a few seconds off the time.

Into April and milder weather, I attempted my first outdoor run at my local park which is roughly around 5k. Oh boy was I shocked at how much harder it is to go on the road compared to a nice little gym on a machine that unless you adjust is always flat. I think my finish time was about 37 minutes and I felt like I had all of my energy zapped from me for the rest of the day.

This made me determined to do better though, so I did it again the following week and knocked two minutes off my time. I then just went out on the road three more times before the big day using the local cycle path and the Map My Run app; I felt quite confident I was ready for the big day.

I was completely blown away with how engaged my colleagues were and how many of them signed up to do the run. I expected one or two to join me but having 12 was amazing! It made me feel quite emotional. Seeing all of them there on a bank holiday weekend supporting my charity was a very special moment.

The race surpassed anything I ever imagined, the atmosphere was just incredible and I found myself sharing a mixture of emotions with many other people. One guy was raising money for SANDS, another charity close to my heart. I gave him a hug then ran past him - it is a race after all!

Coming to the finish line the crowds were just brilliant, I felt like a celebrity. My gran and aunty were at the finish line which just made it even better! I was so happy with my finish time of 1 hour and 14.02 minutes and we have raised over £3,000, well I just cannot believe what we have achieved.

I honestly just can’t thank everyone enough. We are all still buzzing from it.

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