I have had a love of running for as long as I can remember. I was the child who had an incredible amount of energy and wanted to race my friends all the time. The problem was, most of my friends had no care for running up and down the street and I had no care for playing with dolls.
I remember the day quite clearly that my dad arrived home and announced that I was going to 'Arriers'. I had no idea what it meant and wondered whether it was some sort of punishment (I don't think I was the easiest of children).
I turned up for a Wednesday track session, feeling like the Dog's Bollocks with my new C&A tracksuit with the elasticated bottoms. Shitstoppers I believe they are now called. As a 10 year old, I had no fear and had no idea how far the 800m was that I was expected to run. All I knew was I was the best runner in my school year.
Unfortunately, although I turned up feeling like the Dog's Bollocks, I left realising I was no longer top of the tree. I finished way behind everyone else but it didn't deter me though and I turned up week after week for the twice weekly sessions and went on to take part in the various races whether it be track or cross country.
Now some who know me would be surprised to learn that I wasn't competitive in my younger years (I did get aggressively competitive during a game at a baby shower last week!). I turned up, was usually the one making up the numbers as far as the team was concerned but I genuinely enjoyed it. I ran alongside other girls who would be devastated if they didn't put in a top performance and I think some of their parents' attitude to it didn't help.
I lasted until I was about 13 and then I found other things to occupy my time. I have always kept relatively active but although I considered myself shit compared to the others at the club, I would love to be able to run those times now. No fear of distance or hills, just turn up on the day and do it.
Every so often, I tell myself that I am going to lose a bit of weight and really try a bit harder and get back on it. It's hard though and it's not about excuses. Juggling work and childcare leaves little time for much else without considering hill, speed and generally 'getting those miles in'. I don't want to settle for average but I am too old (and shit) to turn pro.
I do my parkruns and a couple or three 10ks a year and usually after one of the tougher ones, I tell myself (and anyone else still listening) that I'm retiring.
Today was one of those days.
Abbey Dash 2016, my third attempt.
I drove myself, because my lift had let me know it was going to be too cold and rainy to go. I parked in one of the suggested car parks and there was a massive queue to get in, followed by a massive queue to pay for the parking. I'm usually (anally) organised and today I was playing a blinder. I had to run to the start (as it started to rain) and was bloody knackered as I arrived at bang on 09:30 - start time. Fortunately the queue of last minute pee'rs had dwindled by then so I managed to land a stinky portaloo without too much trouble (I'd managed a pre race poo before I left home so thankfully that wasn't an issue).
By the time I queued up in the pigpen, I was knackered but I had already had to have a committee meeting with myself in the car and I wasn't about to have another chat now. Yes it was freezing and pissing it down but, seriously just get a grip!
I'd been absolutely shit the week before at the inaugural Sheffield 10k, had to walk for 40 seconds at least and I wasn't about to repeat that. I knew this was a flatter course and I was gonna grab it by the bollocks!
I felt stronger and faster until about 9k when I hit a wall and knew that the tiny hill at the end would be a struggle but I was aiming to break my pb so I had to keep on going.
I thought about the people I'd seen along the route; an old work friend who was acting as guide runner (the first and only time I would be able to run past him I'm sure) and I was inspired by both of them. I saw a friend from work stood in the freezing cold with her young twins in their buggies (there to cheer a relative on but I got a cheer nonetheless) and I thought 'Cmon now, get your arse in gear and think of those who have more challenges today and just bloody run'.
I kept on running, right to the line and looked at my watch.
Fuck. Shit. Bastard.
Abbey Dash 2016 was now my third and shittest attempt.
I try and inspire other people and tell them that we have good days and off days and sometimes there is just no explanation, but you have to pick yourself up and give it another go.
My 5k pb time was smashed in the summer with all the odds stacked against me that day but I did it. Today (and last week) was just not meant to be.
Today was about making it to the line. And I did.
My love/hate relationship with running will continue. Today, I am retired but no doubt will be out pounding the streets in a couple of days time.