From 10k to Where....
Last Sunday I, along with 10,000 other women, took part in the London leg of the Nike Women's 2015 Race Series. (#WeRunLondon)
It was a truly incredible day and I came away feeling pumped and buzzed beyond belief - the weather had been glorious and the atmosphere was so positive and friendly. To think that for months before this race I had been feeling literally sick with nerves and having sleepless nights imagining myself coming last and everyone turning and laughing at me. I think a lot of people have that fear of someone turning to them and saying "you don't belong here" however luckily this was the total opposite of how I found the day to be - which is a marvel considering how badly my training had gone.
It felt like every time I laced up my trainers and stepped out the door something went wrong - gastric flu, tripping over a puppy and going over my ankle, heavy rain of biblical proportions, my own sheer laziness.... so when I rolled up to Victoria Park for the Nike race last weekend I felt like an absolute fraud. However, something happened on that day, in the days and hours before I had swaggered around with a faux bravado - almost boasting about the fact that I was so ill prepared so as to ward off comments about my inevitably poor performance. I had laughed at the poor chap in Niketown who politely asked how my training was going as I picked up my race pack, who's eyes had nearly popped out of his head as I cheerily told him that it had gone terribly. "But the race is tomorrow!" he told me, sounding rather shocked as I brushed him off with a "don't worry - I'll make it round!" Of course, on the day it was a completely different matter. I had meekly nodded my head and jogged on the spot a bit during the warm up, feeling oddly jealous that I didn't have the confidence to go mad like the other 'real runners'. I had been so nervous in the morning that I could only nibble at a bit of toast and had to force down a banana and some water, and the forty minute tube journey was spent nervously looking for other women in trainers and checking that I had everything I needed in my bag.
At first when we set off I felt even more awkward and self conscious, and whereas in the pens we had all been tightly bunched together, for some reason (karma? fate?) when my group set off we all instantly thinned off, leaving me feeling very alone, on show, and vulnerable. As if Ellie Goulding was going to shout "Grab her! She's clearly done no training! She doesn't belong!"
As I ran over the start line I refused to smile or make eye contact with anyone and instead slowly jogged with my head down, wondering when all the crowds would thin out so I could walk again. I managed to make it to 2km before slowing to a walk/run and it was sheer will to get the beautiful Alex Monroe medal necklace that pushed me through my first 5k but then, as I mentioned before, something happened.
I magically started to actually enjoy the experience. I found myself grinning as I ran, smiling as strangers cheered me on, giving people high fives and waving for cameras! The 10km was beyond tough (no training, remember!) but by the time I finished the course I was ecstatic. I'd been slow but was far from 'last' and I felt like I'd really achieved something. I was superwoman! I was unstoppable! If something had given me a a concrete slab I'd have been able to chop it in half with my bare fist. I walked around the festival village clutching a banana and grinning at people I didn't know. The weather was gorgeous and there was a real festival atmosphere around - people were enjoying themselves and celebrating and the event itself was very professional and had been very carefully put together. I'd been unable to try a few of the attractions pre-race (because nerves, money and queues) but I went for a good explore after I had finished. There was certainly plenty to try with appetising food stands, samples galore, a birchbox 'build your own beauty box' tent and an awesome braid bar which I was dying to try out but couldn't quite face putting someone through the experience of handling my sweaty hair. I did queue for a while for the printed finishers tops however I gave up when I'd reached the 30 min mark in the queue to pay for it, was still nowhere near the front & was then told there would be another 40 min wait to collect the top after paying (the one let down of the day.) Also by this time my feet were hurting (blisters) and I needed to start the trek back to Mile End station and cross over London back to my digs for the weekend in Hammersmith (plus my sisters massage chair, a glass of prosecco and a bloody great bar of galaxy chocolate was calling!)
This amazing runners high was still in my system for a few days post race, and I can only put it down to me 'catching the running bug'. After icing my knees for a few days I was desperate to get back out in my trainers. Taking part in the Nike Women's Race has definitely inspired and encouraged me to get fit and take on some new challenges (the next one being another 10km - Sure's Run to the Beat in September) and so this is where this blog has really begun. Whilst originally I had signed up for the Nike race as the weight had snuck up on me in the few years since university and away from compulsory sport and I had wanted to drop the extra stones I was carrying, this race has finally got me into fitness for the right reasons. Although I still need to lose the weight I now want to do so by challenging myself and smashing goals, testing what my endurance and resolve is and generally living a life that's a bit more adventurous and thrilling. After a pretty lengthy post I'm now getting to the point - I hope that this blog will be a good way to document this journey and hopefully when I look back I will be able to see what progress I have made. Hopefully a few people out there will read and enjoy it too, and maybe, just maybe it'll help encourage a fellow couch potato to get their trainers on and get out there. If anyone is in the same position and is wondering whether to sign up to the race, or perhaps saw the Nike race series this year and is considering it for next year, I can only reiterate Nike's own advice - 'just do it!' and I'll see you on the start line! (and I promise I'll train properly for my next race!)
PS. A massive thanks to everyone at Nike and all the volunteers who helped put together such a great day, also to everyone who came out to cheer and support everyone who took part. Sometimes you need a stranger yelling at you to not give up to help you round! I also apologise if my sweaty red face gave anyone nightmares....
Images: Nike Running UK Facebook Page