Banish Baby Weight And Raise Money For Cancer Research

Glasgow, UK. 13 September, 2014.  The finishing line at the Pretty Muddy Race for Life. © Roger Gaisford/Alamy Live News
Glasgow, UK. 13 September, 2014. The finishing line at the Pretty Muddy Race for Life. © Roger Gaisford/Alamy Live News

There comes a point when you can no longer refer to your wobbly bits as 'baby weight'. So, in a bid to banish five bellies and a couple of bingo wings, get fitter and raise a few quid for Cancer Research I attempted to overcome a lifetime phobia of exercise with a 5k run through the mud.

Now, to say I was not a very sporty kid is an understatement. I was that kid who people didn't want in their team, a silent lump on the sports field, as two team captains argued to NOT to pick me. I lived in fear of the annual sports day.

The humiliation has stayed with me into my 40s. I still break out in a cold sweat upon entering a gym. I avoid sports shops, convinced the 16-year-old sales assistants will break into a chorus of 'Who ate all the pies?' as soon as I dare step over the threshold.

You get the picture. Baby, once upon a time. Posh, always when in Aldi. Scary, once a month, every month. Ginger, strawberry blonde in a certain light. Sporty, never. And yet I keep trying.

I've tried running, skipping, swing, yoga, pilates, yogalates, tennis. I got kicked out of yoga for giggling. Someone fell asleep and farted, I defy anyone not to laugh. I was given free membership to a swanky gym. I never returned after falling off a treadmill - I dropped my ipod and stopped to pick it up without hitting the PAUSE button.

I did aerobics, the only under 25 among a throng of pensioners who kicked my butt on a weekly basis, whirling around to Snap's Rhythm is a Dancer while I struggled for balance and breath, like an intoxicated Ronnie Wood.

Running through the park the strap of my under-pressure sports bra snapped leaving me to limp home, one boob flapping in the wind. But I keep trying.

Since becoming a mum I claim there's no time to exercise. This is a lie. Time is, of course, at a premium but it's more that jogging would cut into my TV viewing and snaffling of Jaffa cakes; stuff that's less effort and significantly more pleasurable.

So, two and a half years after giving birth I figured it was time to get off the sofa and tackle that pesky 14lbs that simply didn't want to say goodbye to my mid-section. I signed up for Cancer Research's Pretty Muddy.

I bullied an old friend, herself a new mum, into joining me. The idea was to inspire us both into getting fit in preparation for the big day, to establish a training regime and stick to it. Basically, to be the Sunday morning joggers I always look at in awe, through the car window on my way to my local café for French toast with lashings of maple syrup and a full-fat latte.

Sadly the pre-race regime was pitiful, a couple of half-hearted turns around my local park. So, as we stood at the starting line, neither of us was convinced we could run the course. But with grandparents, partners, sisters, brothers, nieces and our own highly excited two boys along for the ride, we couldn't really back out.

Warming up with 60 other women to the motivational squawl of Katy Perry's Roar, all I could think was, 'Please God let me cross the finish line ahead of the octogenarian in the feather boa and deely boppers'.

We, quite literally, struggled with the first hurdle, and the second, and the third, inelegantly heaving ourselves over as our supporters cheered and jeered us on.

Then we jogged and stumbled our way through woodland. The 'assault course' of crawling through mud under cargo nets and hopping through tires, a welcome release from the actual running.

Family were on hand for the final stretch, motivating us through tunnels, over cargo nets and on to the finish line and 40 minutes after the starting gun, we climbed up one side of a giant inflatable pink slide and ecstatically flew down the other, into a pool of freezing, muddy water. Our little boys were beside themselves with glee.

We were welcomed like conquering heroes by our nearest and dearest with high-fives. Soaking wet from head to toe and utterly filthy, hugs were not forthcoming but a 'Good running in the mud Mummy' and the £400 we banked for Cancer Research made it all worthwhile.

I've been for a couple of (short) jogs since but it's fair to say I don't see a marathon in my future. However I will be back for next year's Pretty Muddy, I might even attempt 10k. But, for now, I'm just grateful I didn't humiliate myself and very relieved that both my sports bra and pelvic floor stood up to the challenge.

You can find out about local Pretty Muddy Race for Life events near you here.

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