So yesterday I undertook my first non Race for Life 10k. In other words, the first 10k I was actually taking seriously. To say I was nervous was an understatement. Would I finish? Would I be last? Would the sweeper pass me? With all this going through my head I didn’t get any sleep the night before but I was prepared hydration and carb wise by being very sensible on the Saturday. We left early on the Sunday morning to get to Bristol and boy was it worth it! We got there, the sun was shining, music was playing and there was a great atmosphere. I started to relax and get into the atmosphere.
I’d initially signed up for the run with one of my best friends but he was in a different wave to me because he’s quite quick (he finished in about 57 minutes) so I met up with one of the girls from The Too Fat to Run? Clubhouse and we made our way over to the pink wave start. After a bit of nervous chatter we were off.
I’d decided from the get go I was going to that I was probably going to do run/walk intervals and on the day I was so glad because it was so hot and there was no shade at all (apart from one part of the route that was through a tunnel). So I decided early that I just wanted finish, regardless of time. This run was the Great Bristol 10K and I’d be told the Great Run series was always really well organised with amazing routes. I definitely wasn’t disappointed. The route was mostly flat and as it was my first road race to be honest for me the hardest thing at the beginning was getting used to running on the tarmac of the road. One thing that I found really helpful with the organisation of the race was the confidence built in the first 2k. I thought I was going really slow because I hadn’t yet spotted the 1k marker but then all of a sudden I saw the 2k one! Those cheeky organisers! I was so happy and I felt I’d hit a good run/walk pace. The markers came past and I was feeling good, if a little hot, soon I saw the 5k marker, I was halfway there! Getting up to the 6k marker I really needed to wee, probably because of all that hydration! It was really warm and I knew I could either carry on and not keep taking sips of my hydration drink or go to the portaloo stop and waste a few minutes. If I’d been doing this run last year I probably wouldn’t have stopped but I knew from what I’d learnt from The Fat Girls Guide To Running to have a chance of finishing the race in a healthy way that I would benefit from in the long run I needed to sacrifice those few minutes. After the wee stop I didn’t really get back into the same pace that I’d been in before but I was still feeling confident. Then the 8k marker came and then suddenly 400m, 200m and then I was crossing the finish. I couldn’t quite believe I’d done it. In my mind I’d kind of wanted to do it under 1:40 even though I’d been saying I just wanted to finish but I ended up with 1:32:34! I was in complete disbelieve.
I had the best support on the day not on,y knowing my best friend was running it too but knowing my husband was somewhere along the route (he actually ended up being just after the 400m mark and got a video of me running. I’d also had major support from the Clubhouse ladies. To me this will always be a very special run for me because, almost by accident, I ended up doing the run without headphones. I just wanted to soak up the atmosphere and it was great. I know really know what people mean when they talk about ‘race atmosphere’ and ‘race adrenaline’. I’m still getting over the fact that I only started running in January with the Too Fat to Run? 5 weeks to 5k programme did my first 5k in February and just completed my first 10k! I mean, it just sounds silly!
So what’s next for me? Well funnily enough another 10k! On May 29th I’ll be doing the Women’s Running 10k in Cardiff with a group of women from Too Fat To Run? and I really can’t wait. I’m hoping to get into the 1:20’s. I’ve got a few more 10k’s through the summer along with training to prepare for:
- September – Lee Valley Race for Life Half Marathon
- October – Royal Parks Half Marathon for Epilepsy Action (please sponsor!!!)
- November – Freaks events Half Marathom – Western Super Mare
- April – Paris Marathon!!! (also for Epilepsy Action).
I look at that and it’s like ‘wow! That’s a real runners timetable’. I’m still getting used to referring myself as a runner but it’s getting easier the more distance I cover. So thank you to everyone for their support both pre and post race. You’ve all been amazing helping me in my running journey.
Run and have fun!
So it’s nine days (I think) until my first 10k. I started off training really well getting up to 7k but that was over a month ago. Life’s got in the way. Stress and anxiety has got in the way and I’ve retreated back to my old habits of not being able to leave the house. I’ve done the whole spiral. I feel pathetic, not worth anything, stupid, ridiculous and even contemplated pulling out of the run. Then I thought, for the first time I may add, where would that get me? If I pull out I’ll definitely feel like crap. If I try and do some training in the time I have left yeah it won’t be my best run ever but I’ve got more of a shot of finishing. Sometimes running isn’t about the marathons (have one next year but think I’ll get through the 10k first) it’s about having the belief in yourself that if you fall down you can pick yourself back up again. If I come last? So what? I’ll have finished the run and not quit. I’m not going to bollocks around and say I’m feeling great at the moment because I’m not. In fact I’m really struggling but I get so much support from the women at The Fat Girl’s Guide To Running that I know I can do this and I am not a failure. Julie who is the founder of The Fat Girl’s Guide To Running has entered a pitch to Richard Brandson’s Voom competition which would allow the group to grow so much and to reach so many other women like me. So please watch the pitch, pledge and share it as many times as you can at Too Fat To Run? It’s time there was a change in the running world, that overweight women feel accepted everywhere and inactive women aren’t afraid to take those first tentative steps. Believe me guys, Julie’s leading us there. So wish me luck for my 10k as I plod along proudly wearing my Too Fat To Run? race vest.
Keep on plodding
So if you’re not part of the Epilepsy community you may not know but today (and every March 26th) is Purple Day which is a day to raise awareness for Epilepsy. I thought I would do my small part by explaining what it’s like to run with Epilepsy.
I do get asked quite frequently “but if you’re sick how come you can run?” For one, unless I am lying in a hospital bed post seizure feeling sorry for myself I do not consider myself ‘sick’ I just have a neurological condition which over time I have learnt to deal with. Seizures often have triggers, for some it’s alcohol, lack of sleep, lights or noise. For me it’s stress. I’m really crap with stress. If something’s upset me I don’t like talking about it as I feel like I’m just burdening others with it which leads to internalised stress (basically hiding your feelings) this can then manifest itself in different ways but for me muscle spasms, absences and memory loss are the most common.
So why do I run? Well firstly I love it but most importantly it relieves stress. After a run I feel amazing. I’ve thought through everything and 9 out of 10 times will then go and talk to someone about it. It’s also about general fitness. My cocktail of anti seizure medications over the years have made me gain weight. They also make me feel really lethargic and down. If I kick myself up the bum and go for a run I can fight this tiredness. The most important point of all that I would like to get across is for all the medical reasons I run I mostly run for me. Running makes me feel powerful, like I can do anything. It gives me back the confidence that was stolen from me by Epilepsy. A few years ago I wouldn’t go out of the house without someone else because I was terrified I’d have a seizure now I’m training for 10ks and half marathons. That is the power of running.
Runing hasn’t just helped me deal with my Epilepsy. It’s changed my life and I will be forever grateful for that. I mentioned above that I’m currently training for some half marathons. One of them is The Royal Parks Half Marathon in October which I will be running on behalf in the most amazing and supportive charity Epilepsy Action and it would be amazing if in the spirit of Purple Day I could raise some donations towards my run at my Just Giving Page. I hope by reading this you’ve learnt something about Epilepsy. I know it’s a difficult one to understand I didn’t before I was diagnosed and truthfully I still don’t but if we can all come together on this day then surely that’s not a bad thing?
So when I first started the 5 Weeks To 5k programme at the end of January I expected to get a bit of a kick up the back side regarding my running. What I didn’t expect was to get recognition from the virtual running club ‘The Clubhouse’ ran by The Fat Girls Guide To Running. At the end of February (yeah I know, I’m a little late to the game) I was named the spotlight member of the month which was absolutely amazing. I’d answered some questions for a profile which can be seen in the link above. (This is what happens when you run in GB, you run in the rain.)
Although I knew I’d been doing well at the 5 Weeks To 5k programme to get the recognition from other runners boosted my confidence immensely. It also made me feel like part of the running community, something I’ve wanted for several years. This profile has given me more confidence than any medal ever could.
So what for me now that the 5 Weeks To 5k programme is over? I’m planning on carrying on 3 to 4 runs a week mixed in with cross training and core work to build up to a 10k I’m doing in May. After that I’ll be training for my first half marathon in November.
When I look back to the beginning of this year I never would’ve guessed that this is where I’d be now. The 5 Weeks To 5k programme has not only made me feel part of a community but given me more confidence in my life than I’ve ever had before. Running doesn’t just improve your fitness, it improves your life as a whole and gives you a whole load of adventures to look forward to!
This weekend has been crazy but in a crazy good way. On Saturday instead of doing my usual Parkrun I marshalled at it instead as I was doing a run on Sunday. Volunteering at Parkrun is an amazing experience and if you go to your local Parkrun you really should give volunteering a go once in a while because it feels so good to give something back and you get more time to chat and get to know people. I was marshalling along the route and got so many high fives and shouts of thanks it was amazing and really makes you feel part of the community 😊(and obviously you get to wear a rocking high vis!)
So, why wasn’t I doing my usual Parkrun you may ask. Well, as I’ve previously mentioned I was taking part in a Five Weeks To 5k programme run by Julie Creffield and the The Fat Girl’s Guide To Running team online. Well this was the final weekend of the programme where from the outset we all signed to walk/jog/run a 5k. To be honest from the outset in my mind I was planning to just go do my usual Parkrun and walk/run the 5k. However, a few weeks into the programme I found out that The Saint David’s Day Run was happening on the final Sunday of the programme so I signed up to the 5k run (there are 5,1 and 10k events on the day) and still aimed to walk/run it.
Well, yesterday was the big day. Two of our friends stayed over the night before to join my husband as part of my ‘cheer squad’ and we all set off to Cardiff on Sunday morning. We arrived at the event to an amazing atmosphere and very friendly volunteers. I’d been very nervous the night before but as soon as I got there the fears faded away. The warm up began and it was clear that everyone was there for the fun of it. Gathering at the start line the butterflies started again, we all counted down together and we were off. 1k went past and I was still jogging along. Then 2k, 3k and 4k. I couldn’t believe that I hadn’t given in and started walking yet. As soon as I saw that 4k sign I was determined to keep going. I’m not going to lie, it wasn’t magical, it was bloody hard but I did it. I ran the whole bloody thing and did it at a sub 40 minute time for the first time ever at 39 minutes 29 seconds.
After the run I seriously couldn’t quite believe it. I’d never run a whole 5k before and I hadn’t even planned to, mostly because I was scared I couldn’t, but this weekend I didn’t let fear stop me and I accomplished something that even on Sunday morning I didn’t believe was possible.
Well now I know anything is possible. I know I am strong and I am a runner. I’m also doing a 10k on May 15th and training starts today.
“Say no to fear and believe just how strong you are.”
So this weekend after no running in the week due to a holiday I roused to once again attend my local Parkrun. To be honest I wasn’t expecting much because of the lack of runs in the week, I was tired, blah blah blah and some other excuses. Recently I’ve really been really trying to concentrate on pace because even though people have been telling me “the slower you go, the further you’ll go” I didn’t quite believe them. This week at Parkrun though I did listen and even though I didn’t get a PB I managed to run more of the course than ever before (usually a run/walker) and it seriously made me feel amazing. I came home completely buzzing it was seriously the first time I felt like I could call myself a ‘runner’ but that’s a whole other post for a whole other time. For now I just thought I’d spread the love and advice of “take it slow” because it honestly gave me the best weekend I’ve had in a longtime.
Towards the end of January I started in the January/February cohort of ‘Five Weeks To 5k’ run by the online running community The Fat Girls Guide To Running led by the vivacious plus sized runner Julie Creffield. To be honest, on the run down to starting the programme I wasn’t really looking forward to it. Not because I wasn’t looking forward to running because I’ve run in the past and loved it. No, this time I was scared of failing. Let’s just give you an idea of what I was starting with; 5ft3″, over 13 stone, out of breath at the end of a short walk. Needless to say I was far off running a 5k.
So I began, tentatively on the first steps towards a 5k. Running around my local streets with the occasional sneer from people walking past and even the occasional fellow runner. I really enjoyed the first week, like, really enjoyed it. By the second I was addicted, attending my local Parkrun each Saturday and entering runs left, right and centre. Even a half marathon in November! I’ve also joined The Fat Girl’s Guide To Running‘s online running club called The Clubhouse.
As this week ends, so does week four of the programme. As we enter the fifth and final week I look forward to it culminating in a Saint David’s Day 5k in Cardiff. I also look at how much I have changed myself. I’m more confident; not just in my running and the fact that just because I’m fat doesn’t mean I’m not allowed to be interested and actually in love with fitness but in life in general. I genuinely don’t care what other people think of me anymore and my stress levels have gone down immensely.
So what’s next? Well I guess I’m just going to keep running. One foot in front of the other. Not because I want to be skinny but because I’ve genuily found something that I love doing, that allows me to escape and for me to finally feel comfortable in my own skin. It also allows me to be, what I think anyway, is the best version of me.
So I’ll keep writing these blogs. Sometimes about me, sometimes about running or races and just because sometimes I like writing. So that’s me. Hopefully someone out there will read this and get something from it or maybe it’ll just lye out there in cyber space with the occasional mistaken hit.