Running and Life – Kelly Bowen

running and life

Age: 37

Winning The Great Welsh Half Marathon

How did you first get into running?

Aaron was doing the mudrunner series at Eastnor Castle. Seth my son was only about 2 months old when I went to watch Aaron race at Eastnor Castle. I hadn’t really watched a race before and thought it would be loads of skinny athletic looking people. I was amazed that it wasn’t. There were all shapes and sizes and ages there. It really inspired me. I thought, if they can do it, so can I!

To start with I thought I would give it a go in a couple of years after I had finished breast feeding Seth but I ended up doing it the following year when I was still feeding him. I had a goal to beat Aaron’s time, so I think that maybe where my love of competition first started.

I trained for it on my own. I started off by walking and running between lamp posts and built it up until I could run further without having to walk. I enjoyed Eastnor and decided to see if there were any running groups that I could join. I don’t think I was looking for a running club as such but found Croft and joined in 2015. I remember running with Stuart Austin at Luctonians on my first time at the club.

Shortly after I’d joined Croft, I ran the Merthyr Half Marathon. This was after my cousin had asked me to run Cardiff Half Marathon October. I said no but then came across Merthyr hosting their first half marathon in 2015. My Dad lived in Merthyr and I decided to give it a go. I managed to do it in 1:59 and I remember Mike Blenkinsop saying to me ‘we’ll have you running a 1:30 half marathon one day’. I finally managed it April 2022 when I ran 1.29 at The Great Welsh Half Marathon at Pembrey Park.

Once I’d trained for the Merthyr Half I was hooked. I started training with Croft more regularly and then went into the summer cross-country league. I found out I that really loved racing and was entering races most weekends. I’ve tended to focus on Half Marathons.

I ran The London Marathon in 2018 and managed to do it in 3:53. I thought I could get under 3:30 if I worked hard at the training. I managed to run Chester Marathon in October 2018 in 3:26 and then this year I ran Manchester marathon in 3:21.

This year I’m going back to run The Snowdon Marathon at the end of October. It’s tough with the hills but all runnable. My best time there is 3:43. I’m hoping to be close to that again this year.

What’s a typical running week for you?

I’ll usually do between 30 and 50 miles each week depending if I’m training for a marathon or not.  Tuesday and Thursday I’ll be at the club then I’ll usually do between an 8 and 10 mile run on the weekend (longer when marathon training). I’ll also pop out in the early morning or evening. I run most days to be honest but I’m very flexible about when I do it so that it fits around the family.

One thing I have learnt is that, unless I’m doing a specific training session, I need to keep my other runs to a fairly slow pace. I might push it up a hill but running at a leisurely pace helps me not get injuries or too worn out. You can bring the speed and distance together in a race.

What’s in the diary?

I did the Cardiff Half Marathon today (2nd October). I ran 1:35. I had some mental barriers to fight at half way. Four miles from the finish I decided to choose some people to chase which helped me regain my focus. It wasn’t my best time but not too bad either.

29th October – Snowdonia Marathon

I’ve managed to do a Half Marathon every month this year. I haven’t booked anything for November and December yet. I’m thinking about The Black Mountain Half Marathon for December at the moment.

What’s Your Most Memorable Run?

I’ve got to say it’s winning The Great Welsh Half Marathon in Pembrey this year. I got my sub 1:30, I won it – and it was in Wales. It doesn’t get much better than that. The Race Director said it was one of the most memorable finish photos he’d seen.

Any injuries you’ve struggled with?

I bruised my hip joint badly in 2019. I ran every day in January and it was too much. Then I slipped and fell at the Fforest Fields Cross Country race. It put me out for 13 weeks. I also got a bit of shin splints at the beginning of lock down – I was doing too much road running.

Other than that I’ve been pretty fortunate. I do much more strength and conditioning work now and work with a personal trainer online doing a lot of weight training. I really believe it’s the way to keep injuries at bay.

What do you most love about running?

The running community is brilliant and being a in a club is awesome. I love the people. It’s also the freedom. I control how much or how little I do. It’s something you can do for yourself. It’s all down to me – some days are good others are not so good but I love it.

I’ve also taken on a role of coaching within the club. May 2019 I completed the Leader in Running Fitness course and then September 2019 I completed the Coaching Assistant course. Both of these have helped me to develop skills to help and support others to run including the juniors. Currently I am finishing the Coach in Running Fitness course which means I will be a qualified running coach. I love being able to coach others, to provide an inclusive running environment for all runners to hopefully enable others to find the love of running like I have.

What do you do for a living?

I’m a child minder. I work 5 days a week all year round from 7:30 until 5:30. It started out as a way that I could look after my own children and earn some money. Before I was working caring for old people in their own homes. It was all shift work and didn’t work with having a young family. Aaron goes out to work so this works well for us.

Who do you live with?

With Aaron, Maisie (11, who has just started high school) and Seth (9). Aaron and I are getting married next week at Brinsop Court at Tillington. We’ve been together for 14 years. We’re off the Malta for our honeymoon.

Have you any pets?

A lab cross collie, Yogi (7) and a collie, Bennie (4). Also two Guinea Pigs – Rex and Rolo. We bought them for the kids but they’re mine really!

Can you recommend a good book?

I’m not really a big reader but I did enjoy Ant Middleton’s book – Mental Fitness – 15 rules to strengthen your mind and body.

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