Jenny Nesbitt – Long Distance Runner

Name : Jenny Nesbitt10712563_10152750791674868_3959634093914255382_o

D.O.B : 24/01/1995

Nationality : British

Coach : David Walker

Club : Worcester A.C

The first steps….

I didn’t start running until I was 14, when I was at school and the only event left for sports day was the 1500m. I threw myself into it and loved every moment, and since then I have never looked back!

I was hooked and after looking into running clubs, I was advised that Worcester AC was the place to go. I was quickly introduced to my coach Dave Walker, and together we have progressed year after year. Having a coach gave me direction and helped me to start to achieve medals and selections.

I began to compete in national competitions and in 2011 I claimed the bronze medal in the U17 National Championships and the UK School Games, the latter a fantastic experience, where I was selected to represent the West Midlands. I ran a time of 4.30 for the 1500m, which ranked me 6th in the UK. These experiences fuelled my enthusiasm to drive forward and achieve even more, and the 2011/2012 cross country season was my first taste of winter training and proof hard work pays off.

This season I was introduced into more national competitions and tough races, and claiming the UK McCain XC champion (U17) was a fantastic moment for me. Not only that but in the English Schools XC champs, I placed 5th a year young, proving that the hard work and training I was putting in was really paying off. I became more and more driven and I wanted to increase my training and set myself new challenges. Of course, being the excitable and enthusiastic athlete I am my coach had to reign me in a bit to ensure I didn’t over train at a too young an age, something I have come to learn is vital to steady improvement!!

In April 2012, I experienced a fantastic race, participating in the Virgin Mini London Marathon, where you raced over the last 3 miles of the course. I soaked up the atmosphere and the excitement of the race and ran to a second place finish, something I never imagined. This provided me with a new found bit of confidence and renewed energy for the summer track season.

Where it all went wrong..

That was the last time I raced for two years. Suddenly and so unexpectantly being struck down by an autoimmune disease called Henoch-Schönlein purpura (HSP), it left me in hospital and bed bound for months on end, fighting for my health and my life at points. I became withdrawn and upset, watching all the athletes I had raced with go onto do bigger and better things whilst I was lying in a hospital bed. I reluctantly watched the Olympics on the TV, wishing I was out there running too. Luck never seemed to be on my side, I couldn’t see improvements, and my body was becoming more and more broken. My muscle wasted away and my insides started to eat themselves. This lead to my skin eating itself too, leaving me unable to walk and attached to constant IV for many months.

Being the strong minded girl I am, I was determined not to let this knock me down too far, and all my friends, family and coach supported me through the toughest times. But it just wasn’t to be, and after a year of recovering and finally starting to introduce exercise back into my life, HSP struck back again, this time eating a hole the size of a golf ball in my leg. This left me bed bound again and in constant pain, with my mind telling me I will never be able to live the life I once had.

Your body can do amazing things though and 8 months later the hole which once took pride of place on my leg, started to diminish, leaving a scar that now stands proudly in its place.

There is always a light at the end of the tunnel..

At the beginning of this year, I finally put my trainers back on for the first time and stepped outside on a cold January day. Although I was only going out to jog for 3 minutes I could not have been happier. Something told me that this was the start of something new, and my battles deserved to be beaten down by the pounding of feet on the pavements. People doubted me and I doubted myself that I’d ever get back running competitively again. Would my body be able to.. would my mind let me? I was determined not to give up and my runs became longer and my speed became faster. I knew it would take a long time, but I am impatient and I wanted to see results straight away.

I started to get ready to run a couple of local Parkruns at the Countryside Center at the end of February and I was overwhelmed once again with my extreme competitiveness to push my body to its limits. It wasn’t a fast run but I was happy to be back ‘racing’ against real people. Setting the Worcester Parkrun record in the process also gave me some new confidence that everything was going to be alright.

I continued to plod away at my training and compete in a few more races, representing my club again in the National Road Relays, where I placed 10th overall. Along came the track season, something I had been looking forward to for so long. It didn’t start as I had thought it would have done, my times were slow and I wasn’t achieving my goals. But out of the blue, one day in early June I was asked if I would like to represent England Midlands at the Welsh International in the 3000m, the first England vest I was awarded. I was over the moon and this provided me with the confidence boost I needed. My training improved and my times got quicker. When I came to competing at the Welsh International, I ran a 9.40 and placed 3rd, something I never thought would be achievable at the beginning of the year.

10669068_10152753755074868_5497251771235979952_o

The track season came and went and I began to start my winter training. The Worcester City 10km was being held in Worcester for the first time and the star attraction of Paula Radcliffe meant that after many hours of persuading Coach Dave to let me enter. This was not an opportunity I wanted to miss! I didn’t know what to expect, and I didn’t alter my training in preparation for the race, but on Sunday 21st September, I walked the 200m from my house to the start line and plinked myself next to Paula ready to race with my inspiration.

 

Looking back at it now I cant really remember the race, I just remember the screaming crowds and the pain of the last 400m, the amazing atmosphere and breaking the tape! I never imagined beating the World Record Holder Paula Radcliffe, let alone winning and running a time of 34.21, which has placed me number one in the UK for my age group. This experience and the days that followed, with numerous people recognising me and people asking me for ‘selfies’, will last in my memories forever and I hope inspire other people to see that there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

My performances this season have also enabled me to gain my first international vest. In the middle of November I was lucky enough to be selected to run in an IAAF XC event in Spain for England, against some of the best European athletes. In bitter weather conditions, I ran and placed 3rd, also gaining my first international medal!!

Representing my country was such a great experience, and there isn’t much that beats pulling on the vest and stepping out in the red and white. I really hope that with more hard training and good racing I will be pulling on the red and blue of GB sometime soon!

PERSONAL BESTS

800 – 2.15

1500 – 4.30

3000 – 9.38

3 MILES – 16.31

10KM – 34.21

GREATEST ACHIEVEMENT

Representing England in Spain and beating the world record holder

FUTURE AIMS

2015 U23 CHAMPS AND 2020 OLYMPICS

Award Update:

The £300 I have received from Worcester Sport has supported me in achieving so much over the past 6 months. I have been able to use the money to get myself to races and stay over the night before which has enabled me to prepare and fully ensure that my preparation for big races has been as good as possible. Not only this but I have been able to invest in better nutrition, allowing me to recover faster and train harder. I am so thankful that I have been given this grant and it means a lot to me and the dreams I have and want to achieve.

Over the past 6 months, I have been asked to represent my country 3 times over the Cross Country. These experiences have been once in a life time opportunities and being able to pull on the England vest and wear it with pride is something magical every time. Gaining selections to these races was only able to be achieved by traveling to the selection races and ensuring I had the correct build up to the races, something that was much more easily achieved with my grant. Not only that but I was also First Reserve for the European Cross Country Championships in December, something I was gutted to miss out on, but also proud to get so far!

Over the winter season I have also placed top 12 or higher in all my races. I was unbelievably happy to win my first ever senior race over some tough competition in Milton Keynes and this gave me a big boost for the rest of the season. Placing 2nd at the Midland Champs and 3rd in the National Cross Country Relays were also highlights.

I was unfortunate to get injured over the Christmas period which put me out of running for three weeks. This was a great shame, but I think I have managed to get back strongly, something that was made easier through being able to pay for emergency physio (before 206 physio came to the rescue!) and additional rehab aids from the grant I had.

Since I have been given the grant I have also been working hard helping Steve Cram promote the Worcester City 10km which will be held in September again, which in itself has been an exciting and eye opening experience! I love being able to help and being involved in the promotion of a race that means so much to me is a great opportunity!

I am now looking forward to the summer season and the track and road races! I am targeting the European U23s in Tallinn in July where I hope to compete over the 10km on the track! I am looking forward to the build up towards the race and I am certain that the money I have left will enable the best preparations possible!

I would like to say thank you so much for the grant and the provision of the opportunities that you have allowed me to gain!