I have been wanting to start up my blog again for a while. I love reading my mum's blog (sometimes it's the only way I find out what is happening at home!), when Liberty writes something that isn't a review I always take a few minutes to read it, and I'm slightly jealous that they are such good writers whereas I usually just fail epically. If I have the words, I'm ok, but finding words to put to paper has always been difficult for me.
Today I have something I want to write about.
Last summer, I started running. Various members of my family and the boyfriend's family had been running for a while and, despite being a skinny twig, I wasn't very fit. My step-dad is a bit of a fitness fanatic and is always telling me how good a bit of exercise is for the brain as well as the body. So I thought, what the hell? I suck at sports, I'm not very well coordinated (odd for a drummer...) and any time I had to run, in sports or just going after a bus, my chest would close and I'd feel sick for like half an hour after the smallest distance.
Mum and Liberty are part of the running club in my home town, and part of that running club is a Beginner's Training Program. It's an 8 week program where you start off small, running for a minute, walking for 90 seconds and repeating 8 times, 3 times a week, and build up slowly until you are running for 30 minutes solid. I started off doing that, with the help of mum and Liberty, and anyone else who decided to join us. It was going well until 3 weeks in, when they got bored of running for just 3 minutes at a time, and mum decided "let's run a 5k route and see how far you can go!"
So that's what we did. I ran for 13 minutes before I needed to walk, and didn't ask how long we'd been going until 7 minutes in. That may not seem like much, but to me that was a massive achievement. I don't know how long it took to do that 5k, and the boyfriend drove past on the way so we stopped and had a chat. He offered me a lift, but I was determined to make it back myself!
I don't count that run as a proper 5k. Every Saturday at 9am, all around the country, there is an event called Parkrun. It is a timed 5k event, which you can sign up to for free. All you need to do is be there on time and bring your given barcode so they can scan it at the end along with your time. There happens to be one in a town close by to us, so we try to go as often as we can. My first parkrun, Liberty coached me all the way round. I ran for 2 miles before I needed to stop and walk, which was a record for me. At the end, Liberty and I were neck and neck for the sprint finish, with mum (who had already been finished for a while) squealing rather too excitedly as she saw us round the last corner. Being the awesome sister that she is, Liberty actually pushed me over the finish line at the end, just so I would have the faster time. I think it was a difference of less than a second in the end... But I had gotten round my first 5k in 35:13, which felt great.
It took a long time for me to get a faster time than that. Each subsequent parkrun was slower and slower, but I achieved other things instead. The second one I was running with my younger sister Charlie, helping her around the course for a fundraiser. One week we went to a different, much harder parkrun, and that was the first time I ran the whole way without walking. Yes, sometimes (a lot of the time I think) my running was slower than walking, but I did it. I even continued doing parkrun when I went back to Uni, which involved not only finding where the parkrun is, but getting out and doing it on my own. It's hard to get up and run when you don't have anyone to run with. But I absolutely love doing the parkrun. It is now something that we look to do whenever we go anywhere with one nearby. Recently Liberty, Charlie and I went to London to visit our father, and we even got up to do one there. That was by far the hardest course we've ever done. It had TEN HILLS! So Liberty and I got personal worst times with close to 40 minutes, but it was really beautiful and so much fun, so we didn't really mind! I have gotten several new PBs for 5k routes, my fastest so far being 31:01, which I am so pleased with. My goal at the moment is to try and run one in under 30 minutes.
Running has also pointed out other problems that I have with my knee. I've always had a bit of a bad knee, but it got to the point where I wouldn't be able to walk after a run because it hurt to move. Liberty had also been having trouble, and been to see a professional who said it wasn't actually her knee that was causing the problem, but the muscles in her legs being too tight. So now, not only do I run, but I have started doing yoga everyday for 30 minutes in an effort to stretch out my muscles more, to help me run better. I've gotten to the point where I can see how people can get obsessed with exercise. It's a really strange feeling for me.
Running has become a big part of my life. I like to go to sports shops and look at the accessories and running clothes you can get. Even though we didn't get to stay long, Liberty and I had a great time looking round the bit of the London Marathon Expo we made it to. I bought myself a leg roller massage stick thing, we got new running compression socks, we got fliers for other events and we tried a load of healthy food and drinks. And now, with absolute certainty, we can say our step-dad is crazy whenever he drinks beetroot juice. It may give you 5% extra oxygen level in your blood, but it is seriously gross! We enjoyed seeing Mo Farrah run past in the London Marathon (the boyfriend's mother is really jealous of that one. We were so close to the runners, it was ridiculous). I was so excited when my parents bought me a running watch for Christmas. I have had a water fight with Liberty at the unmanned water station in the Cheswardine 5 mile "fun" run. We didn't really run that one at all, but it was kind of fun how bad we were. I have dressed up as a reindeer with family to attempt to pull the boyfriend's sister, who was dressed as Santa, on a mobility scooter decorated as a sleigh around our town in a 5k Turkey Trot. That was hilariously bad. The mobility scooter had a speed limiter, which is slower than walking pace. The marshals had all left by the time we got round, and we cut out the last bit of the route. We so should have won the best costume though, we were robbed with that one.
All of the crazy things I have done since starting running has been great, but by far the best thing so far happened last weekend.
I ran a 10k.
My town, for the last 2 years, has been voted the top 10k route of the country. Last year, my mum, step-dad, Liberty, Liberty's boyfriend, my boyfriend, the boyfriend's mum and sister all took part in the race. I came home from Uni to support and to babysit my brother, and it was really a great day. So when the 2014 entry opened, even though I had only been running for a little while, I decided to sign up.
As race day came closer and closer, I was getting more nervous. I had never run that far, 5 miles being the furthest I had done. I was worried my knee would stop me, or stitch, or my new strange shoulder stitch (don't ask, I can't really explain that one). My aim was to keep up with mum, which I can just about do with parkrun now. I ended up running round with Liberty, and we quickly lost mum in the crowds. But I never really lost heart the whole way round. I got stitch during the ridiculously energetic warm up, so that was over and done with. My knee went stiff about halfway round, but didn't hurt while I was still running. I briefly got shoulder stitch, but that thankfully went away reasonably quickly. Having so many people cheering you on as you are running round really helps to keep your spirit up. We ran past our house where my grandparents, sister Ivy, and the two little ones were waiting with high fives. The boyfriend and his family were marshalling at the beginning (and so also at the end) of the course, and they are always ready with big encouragement. We saw Liberty's friend, our cousins unexpectedly, and someone I knew from school shouted my name out, which just really gave me an extra boost right after the demon hill Phoenix Bank. There was also a drum band which was playing in the town, but relocated to the top of Phoenix Bank, which was just genius placing. It really helped to get me up that hill. Once at the top of it, I knew there wasn't far to go to the end.
The course started and ended on the school field, and once we got there, I could actually see mum just on the other side, so we had managed to stay not too far from her in the end! I crossed the finish line in 1 hour 10 minutes and 4 seconds. It was the best feeling (helped by the fact I overtook a few people at the end :P) Liberty followed a few seconds after. Our aim for the 10k was just to make it round, running the whole way, but we said that if we beat Liberty's time from last year, it would just be the icing on the cake. Well, we smashed it by 3 minutes, and I ran the whole way!
I collected my goody bag, which included a bottle of water, a gingerbread man, a mars bar and a load of fliers, as well as a tray of yoghurts from the Muller factory in our town. My t-shirt is tucked away in my drawer, ready for my next run, and my medal is pinned proudly to my notice board.
I can't wait for next year.