Life without limits…

 

It’s done, BOOM!

Half Marathon mission accomplished.

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Team #inspiredbyzahra

 

(See  here for more on why I ran).

The weeks of build-up, training, injuries and fundraising came to a heady finale on a cold and dry Sunday morning when myself and hundreds of other mad runners slogged up a few hills, pounded down yet more hills and just about managed to keep going on the flat!

 

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Spot the numpty?

 

 It was an amazing experience and the first longer distance race I have fully enjoyed (training does actually help!). And I am so thankful for these things;

1.       I achieved my personal goal and finished in 1hr 55 minutes, sub 2hrs and a PB.  This is 6 minutes faster than my last half when I ran 2hrs 1 minute and was so cheesed off at that minute!

2.       I actually enjoyed it! Last time I ran this distance I couldn’t catch my breath on a long hill near the end and had what felt like a panic attack. I had serious beef with this distance!

3.       I didn’t poo myself – not outside the realm of possibility when running long distance after 2 traumatic births!

4.       The amazing ladies Amanda and Sarah whom I ran with. Just wouldn’t have been the same without them and their friendship.

5.       The support of friends and family who came to cheer us on. Seeing familiar and loved faces, smiling and cheering you on means so much. Also random strangers shouting ‘go girl’ and handing out jelly babies, oranges and strangely beer! The atmosphere was great and you are buzzing for hours afterwards.

6.       The generosity of people inspired me. We were running for a local charity ‘Chestnut Tree House’. After this event the current total is over a thousand pounds on our group Just Giving page.

So what’s next I hear you ask!

Well you’re probably not actually, but I’m going to tell you anyway!

 I am thinking of dipping my toe into the unique and exciting sport that is Triathlon. That’s right TRI baby! I’m going to dabble in some lake swimming, a bit of lycra clad cycling (eeek!) and finally some more foot pounding running! It’s a totally new thing for me, so I’m looking forward to being outside of my comfort zone and trying new things.

My non-fiction book for February (see previous blog) was ‘A Life Without Limits’ by Chrissie Wellington.

She is a multiple Ironman World Champion and has set numerous world records as one of the greatest triathletes of all time. Her story is seriously amazing though. She shocks everyone by winning her first World Championship in one of the most gruelling single-day sporting events, as an unknown thirty-year-old from Norfolk.

It is such an inspiring story and I really recommend it, even if you are not into running. She has such a positive attitude and talks a lot about the mind and how we are capable of so much more than we can imagine. She talks about testing the limits;

“For a start there’s the importance of keeping an open mind. The brain is programmed to protect us, and that can mean imposing limits on what it thinks we can or should do. Constantly push at those limits, because the brain can be way too cautious. Not so long ago I would have laughed at you if you had suggested I do an ironman. Imagine if I had allowed that attitude to persist. It is up to each and every one of us to change ‘I can’t’ into ‘I can’.”

Many of us have hopes and dreams, things that we would love to try but are often too scared to try, too scared of failure or scared of what other people will think. Writing was one of those things for me among many others! But one of the things running has taught me is the truth in not accepting your limits.

When I first started 5k felt like a marathon, 10k felt almost unachievable. Then each race, each small goal I realised I could push my body further, 10k under 50 minutes, running 13.1 miles. I also know there is so much more in me, but I don’t really like pain, and that is the battle of the mind that Chrissie talks about. She says we should relish pain as it shows us how hard we are working! She is one of those people that is like ‘PAIN, I laugh in the face of pain’! I’m not sure I’m fully on board with that yet, and that’s why extreme endurance is not so much my bag. But it is so inspiring and who knows if I’m still writing this blog in ten years, who’s to say what new challenges there will be!  

Never imagine anything is impossible and never stop trying new things!

It’s certainly a challenge.

 

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.