Confessions of an unnataural born runner

 “Understand that it is ok to be scared or uncertain, however right beyond those barriers ultimately lies your dreams.”
Josh Hinds

 

Against my better judgement I have signed up for the Hastings Half Marathon taking place in March. I’ve got that feeling of nervous excitement about it but the primary thing that scares me is that the route has a hill that is 3 miles long. Say WHAT?! 3 miles slogging up a hill, who would be crazy enough to do that! It’s not an Iron Man or anything but for someone to whom running does not feel like it comes naturally it might as well be!

When I was in secondary school, each year a week before cross country my friend Alice and I would don the trackie bottoms and take off round the village for a practice. After running for ten minutes at the most, I would be red faced, panting, have a stitch and feel pretty nauseas! I resigned myself to the fact that I was not made for running and made my excuses on the day. Period pain, fake asthma, forgotten P.E kit anything to get out of the run. It didn’t always work. Once I forgot my shorts on purpose and was made to do it anyway in only my P.E knickers and a t-shirt! Seriously embarrassing moment for a teenage girl having to run in front of boys in basically your pants! After these few attempts I decided long distance running just wasn’t for me and I was better to stick to other less painful hobbies. I’m not ashamed to admit one of those hobbies was stamp collecting. Geek is Chic!

In my late twenties I worked in an office where for some reason nearly everyone that worked there was a runner in some shape or form. It’s contagious I think. Frequently the office talk would come around to running and it got me to thinking. I wondered if I could shake of my P.E knicker shame and become a runner. I decided to challenge myself and though 10k was a manageable distance to start with. I’m not sure how I reached this conclusion considering I couldn’t run for a minute non-stop!

Around this time I got pregnant and had my first daughter Sofia. A few months after she was born I decided this was the perfect time to sign up for a 10k, I wanted to complete it before I turned Thirty and I was Twenty-nine and a half! Of course, as if recovering from birth, sleepless nights and discovering how to be a mum was not enough of a challenge. I looked up a training plan online and got going. I managed to time my runs for Sofia’s bed time/grouchy evening time and my runs quickly became really precious moments of alone time and recovering my sanity! I discovered the joy and freedom of running and the rest is history. I’ll admit I shed a few tears when I started running my first half marathon. I couldn’t quite believe it was me, I was actually doing it. I had by far exceeded my own expectations of myself and it felt really good. I shed a few tears at the end too but for a very different reason!

Apart from the endorphins the thing I love about running is the camaraderie and the amazing people you get to meet. Sharing this passion with my husband, family and friends has made it so much more enjoyable and rewarding. I signed up for the Hastings Half Marathon because of two friends Amanda and Sarah and I definitely wouldn’t have done it without them (thanks guys!). We have been training together, encouraging each other, sharing our aches and pains and post run chocolate cravings!

One of the things I admire about the running community is the different reasons people have to start and keep running. Some people might commit to their first race when they lose a loved one or face a serious illness or difficult circumstances. It can provide a focus and a means to raise money and awareness for someone or something close to their hearts. It can be a really moving experience when running a race to see the pictures of loved ones on people’s t-shirts or a quote or memory of someone they are running for.

Christmas 2015 my beautiful friend Vicki lost her baby daughter Zahra. Zahra battled with serious health problems for most of her short life, but in that short time she touched the lives of so many people around her. She was absolutely gorgeous and it was such a privilege to know her. Seeing what Vicki and her family are going through has made me more aware of the amazing organisations that support and care for seriously ill children and their families. Vicki has very bravely decided to share Zahra’s story here, to raise the awareness of these organisations and what they do, in particular Demelza and Chestnut Tree House. As a group of friends we have decided to support her in this by running various events throughout the year to raise money, the first of which is the Hastings Half. So when I’m plodding up the 3 mile hill, I will be thinking of Zahra, of Vicki and of the many families that so need the help and support of The Chestnut Tree Hospice.

Running is not for everyone but a good old challenge, stepping out of our comfort zones, can be rewarding for everyone. What is your challenge this year? Is there anything you have always dreamed of doing but not quite committed to make happen? Do it, sign up, and tell someone you are going to do it! I would love to hear your personal challenges and goals for this year.