SIAB ‘Blog in a Bag’ No. 30: Mum of four runs in red for Yeovil Half Marathon!

Our Blog in a Bag this month is from charity supporter, Naomi Maynard, who ran her second Half Marathon last Sunday and chose to raise money for us. Read about her challenges, her highs and lows and the race day itself…

I ran my first half marathon on Yeovil last year in 2017. I clearly remember saying hello to Luke (School in a Bag’s Founder & CEO), dressed as giant SchoolBag while standing at the start line and thinking to myself that I’d really missed out on an opportunity to raise some money. I decided at that point that if I ever ran a half marathon again, that I would raise money for a worthy cause, and that that cause would be School in a Bag. Fast forward to January and I saw a Facebook post from School in a Bag, who were looking for runners to get their half marathon team together. I put my name down straight away and got myself signed up. With registration complete I had two tasks; training and sponsorship. Keeping fit is one of my hobbies and having run the course before, I wasn’t too worried about the training. I was however concerned about getting sponsorship. I assumed that charity links on Facebook would get scrolled past and felt awkward about approaching people to ask for money directly.

So I came up with a plan; I would bake cakes. Fitness is one hobby of mine, baking is another (because life is all about balance, right?!) and so I offered to bake boxes of cupcakes for anyone willing to sponsor me. It seemed like a brilliant idea – I wouldn’t have to beg people for money, the charity would receive sponsorship and my friends would get cakes! Perfect. I made oven loads of cakes and advertised them on Facebook, sent them to my husband’s work colleagues and had a cake sale at my toddler group (where a small group of mums and dads brought 60 pieces of cake in one hour!) I raised about £130 selling cakes, so with sponsorship sorted I turned my attention to training. I’m a stay at home mum of 4 children, the youngest of which is 2. Life is busy and time to myself is rare (especially if I want to go out without the children) so I usually exercise at home while the little one sleeps. I love doing my work outs and it makes me feel good, but as the race date grew closer I became more and more concerned that I hadn’t been out for an actual run in months. I planned to run at least once a week in the build up to the race, but life really did get in the way! One week the little one was poorly and had to stay home with me, one week my in laws were poorly and couldn’t look after the little one, and then there was the snow! In March! (who could have predicted that?!) it just wasn’t safe to run outside. So I stayed home and I did the best I could to build up my fitness and my leg strength by doing high intensity interval training and weighted squats and lunges.

I was so worried about the lack of training that had I not been running for School in a Bag and already collected sponsorship, I might have considered backing out. As it was, I kept telling myself that I’d get around somehow and came to terms with the fact that I would take longer to run those 13.1 miles than I had last year. The day before the half marathon was my birthday, which was great from the point of view that it gave me the perfect excuse to eat cake! I kept calling it “pre race carb loading!” On the other hand, it meant that I had a late night the night before the race because I went out to celebrate with friends and I didn’t get to bed until midnight. My little one woke up twice that night and then woke up for the morning at 6am, which wouldn’t have been so bad had the clocks not gone forward, losing me an hour.

SIAB YHM team 2018

SIAB Yeovil Half Marathon team 2018


SIAB Yeovil Half Marathon team 2018


On 5 hours of broken sleep, I got up and got myself ready. Already feeling exhausted and panicking that I hadn’t trained enough, I was actually pretty emotional on the drive into town, but I put on my brave face, parked the car and headed to collect my School in a Bag t-shirt and join with the rest of the team. When I got there everyone so supportive and encouraging that I started to feel happier straight away. By the time the race started I was feeling a bit more confident and ready to go! I think the first mile of any race is always hard while you warm up and find your rhythm, but after that, the next few miles were good; beautiful countryside, fairly gentle terrain and I felt strong! There was wonderful support from fellow runners and spectators, the atmosphere was wonderful. My husband, children and some friends were at Montacute House, cheering me on, which was absolutely fantastic. I had to stop and tie my shoe at around the 8 mile mark, and stopping suddenly made my head spin slightly! Getting going again, I found the remaining miles much, much harder and just as much a mental battle as a physical one. I ached, I hurt, and I felt a long way from the finish line!! There are some very steep, long hills and winding suburban streets in the last few miles and it felt really challenging. I thought I might be sick, or cry, and I told myself I’d never run ever again, all the way to the end! However the last stretch through the Quedam to the finish was amazing and the feeling of running through the middle of that crowd, with everyone cheering was indescribable.

I couldn’t believe it when I got to the finish line and saw the clock; 1:59:11. I had run a sub 2 hour half marathon and knocked a whole 5 minutes off of last year’s time! I honestly wasn’t expecting to do well, so it was a real shock to realise that I’d knocked it out of the park!! The reality of that moment didn’t sink in for ages!


Naomi at the finish line!

Finishing the race, I went straight to the School in a Bag stand to chat to the other runners and everyone was just buzzing! I’ll never forget that feeling, it was epic!

As it turns out, I’d not only underestimated myself, I’d also massively underestimated my family and friends and their generosity. I’d assumed that no one would want to sponsor me without some sort of incentive, but I was wrong! I was absolutely overwhelmed by the number of people who donated money directly through my Facebook link, genuinely overwhelmed. People who I hardly know and who I wouldn’t necessarily have expected have been so wonderful, not only sponsoring me but also sending beautiful messages and huge amounts of support and congratulations.

The whole School in a Bag half marathon experience has been surprisingly humbling in many ways. I have smashed my own expectations of myself and grown in confidence, which feels amazing. I have been so very touched by the generosity and support of the people I know. If that wasn’t enough, I also feel proud to have raised in the region of £230 (current total- money still coming in!) for School in a Bag. I keep thinking of the children whose lives will be changed through the work of this amazing charity and it that is so special. The training wasn’t easy, the race was seriously hard work and my legs have felt absolutely ruined this week, but it was worth it! Would I do it again? In a heart beat!


Naomi – from all of us at SIAB, you are a complete legend and we can’t thank you enough for running and raising money for us :). If you’d like to sponsor Naomi’s efforts, you can still do so on her fundraising page here

Also to the rest of the runners that ran for us, raising much-needed funds – you are ALL amazing!