Oh man, I'm all over the bloody shop.
I have been running parkrun since September 2011. it's an amazing 5k adventure for free, every Saturday morning. I rocked up at my first one in Leeds by myself, scared and shy and ran it in 47:02. Horrid
Since then, I went when I could, recruiting several friends to come too. By the time I left Leeds, I was edging closer to the goal of finishing under 40 minutes, ending around 41 minutes when I left in July 2012.
I went to Conkers, but missing my Hyde Park Harriers and not knowing anyone it was hard. At Leeds everyone always stayed to the end to cheer me on and at Conkers everyone goes in a cafe, not really hanging around. My time also got worse - the course was icy and wet and muddy and not tarmaced.
The second time I went to Conkers, in June, a lady ran past me and said "Hello Aileen" - I was remembered! It sounds stupid however to someone like me, to a little old runner like me, someone remembering you is a BIG DEAL. So I went back in August, then in September, then I started roping people into coming with me.
The thing is, I've never really tracked what I was doing, or trained in-between, or counted mileage or anything. I did better now and again but not by much and not because of anything I could think of. So I just ran. I ran when I could, as I could. I tracked it on my watch but never looked at the results. I got better, but not much.
Whenever people found out I was a runner, they looked at me stunned. I'm fat. I mean, I was 250lbs fat. They looked at me like I had a second head and I just had to remember "Even if i'm shit, I'm running more than most people". Then it all backfired and people who *do* run asked me what time I did, and I had to admit it was 41 minutes.
41 minutes for 5k? That's 4.54mph. People WALK faster than that!! The thing was, I went every week, I put in my time and it got no better. I couldn't break 40.
I promised myself that I would do it, that I would run 5k faster than 40 minutes before Christmas 2013.
I didn't do it.
I came close, I swore, I pushed my legs, but I couldn't do it. I went to Leeds on the 21st of December, an easier course (or so I thought) and though I walked less, I ended up at 40:53, AGAIN.
Then Jantastic came along. Nominate how many runs you will do a week, and do it. So I did. OH MY GOD. Running is so much easier if you do it regularly. I'm now doing at least 3 runs a week with friends and in the gym. The gym has been tough - getting a decent time involves some real effort, and that finally rang true with me.
Today I took my parkrun seriously and wrote my split times on my hand. The times I would have to hit each km to finish in 40:00; 8, 16, 24, 32, 40.
The first km was fine. I hit it around 7:45 - I wasn't feeling great physically however mentally I was strong. The mud wasn't too cold and sod it, I was going to do this.
The second km, no problem. I walked just after 1.7 (a mile) however I sucked it up and got to Cheeky Hill. That's where it almost unravelled. That bastard little hill is so steep and so gravelly that ALL of your momentum is sapped. You spend the first 200m struggling up a hill and then the second 200m you spend getting your breath back.
This is all so much harder when you're my age, my weight and my level of 'fitness'
For some reason the canal section seemed awful too. I never paid attention before, never looked at what parts I struggled with, at what time I was doing. This time every walk was noticed, ever bump in the path was scowled at. I hated every second and couldn't wait to get that part over with. I was slightly behind on my splits so I gritted my teeth and moved my legs.
The third km is puddles. Puddles, puddles and puddles. I decided to knuckle down and run through them! All the way down to the turn back onto the main trail and towards the last km. By this point I had 2 people in tow who had decided that I was their pacer! HA! Little did they know how terrible I was. They asked me how long I had been running and I told them truthfully. Ashamed with how long it had be, worried that I would put them off and embarrassed that they would still beat me. We all stuck together right until the end.
The last km. I hit it exactly at 32 minutes. I started breaking down where I would have to be in my head. Half a km is 4 minutes, 0.25km is 2 minutes. DO IT. I panicked, more than once. I started breathing every step instead of every other step. I panicked. I nearly sabotaged myself, like I have each and every time I've come close before.
0.7km, I glanced at my watch, I had 3 minutes to make it to the finish. I could do it. I promised myself that I wouldn't quit, I would run the whole thing and I would make it. I passed a photographer, she took a photograph of me smiling. I smiled so they wouldn't see my grimace. We kept on.
Down the hill, around the grass, I watched the lady in front of me, Fran, keep going. We turned left, we went right, we started to go under the bridge and she started walking.
"NO!" I shouted! She turned around and looked at me, turned back and kept going. She looked like I hoped I did, determined and solid. We ran.
I didn't have it in me for my usual sprint finish. Usually I run, legs pumping and arms swinging to the finish, today I knew I'd used it all and I had nothing left. I turned past the bridge and heard Milf shout "Mofette!!" I could hear everyone at the finish line screaming for me and willing me on. I looked at the finish line, I ran and I passed it!!!
I passed it, pressed stop on my watch - 39:25 and I screamed. I let open my lungs so everyone could hear. Could hear the anguish that I'd been holding in so long as I realised that I'd done it. My own nemesis - purely out of my own making and only because of me that I hadn't done it before. I wanted to cry but I was too happy, overjoyed, confused that I'd finally done it.
Several people came over to congratulate me. Mark shouted my time as I passed the timers. I knew it was done and we'd joked that morning that I would need to put effort in to do it. Fran turned to me and congratulated me and then there was Richard. My darling Richard, he had timed the run since the start whistle and he had let everyone know that I was there. I attempted to snivel on him but then rememebered that there were loads of other people still crossing the line. I stood and cheered them over - trying to subdue the adrenaline that was making me want to scream.
I have zero self-esteem. I seriously hate myself. Except this week. I have been trying to do this since 2011. I have been trying to break 40 minutes for as long as I can remember. I just did it. Do you know what the secret weapon was? IT WAS PUTTING SOME GODDAMN EFFORT IN!
I have wondered what the secret was, was it the diet the night before? How much I've drank, how much sleep I got? IT WAS JUST PUTTING SOME EFFORT IN, DAMNIT. IF YOU DO NOT DO 100% YOU WILL NOT GET 100%. SIMPLE.
I will no longer be ashamed when I talk to people about parkrun. My only fight was against myself. Maybe this week I will also beat 40 minutes, maybe I won't. I don't care, I have done it. I have done more than I ever thought possible and I am OUT THERE every Saturday, running. It may not be pretty, it may not be fast but I BLOODY DO IT.
Go outside, run, walk, jog but don't be surprised that unless you put effort in you won't get results out. You will only get your result, you won't get the result of the person who finishes in 17 minutes but you WILL GET THE REWARD YOU DESERVE. A healthier body, longer life, more calories to spend on booze that evening.
I love parkrun, I love Conkers, I love Leeds, I love Jantastic. Thank you world for putting those people out there to benefit the rest of us.http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10152147057033164&set=a.10150475039183164.390719.507338163&type=1&theaterhttp://www.parkrun.org.uk/conkers/news/2014/01/19/splish-splash-we-were-making-a-dash/http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=700989063274555&set=a.700985916608203.1073741883.337226632984135&type=1&relevant_count=1http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=700988596607935&set=a.700985916608203.1073741883.337226632984135&type=1&relevant_count=1http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=580195902074195&set=a.580189835408135.1073741905.420774678016319&type=1&relevant_count=1http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=606975329356616&set=a.606972589356890.1073741833.100001324634057&type=1&relevant_count=1http://www.facebook.com/Mofette/posts/10152145993733164?stream_ref=10http://www.parkrun.org.uk/conkers/results/athletehistory/?athleteNumber=180576