For anyone who knows me, running isn’t a natural action for me. Eating cheese is natural, walking natural and on occasion dancing is natural. But running isn’t something that *does* *it* *for* *me*. It’s been 5 months since the conversation me and my friend Emma had that started with grumbling about our weight (the usual girl grumble) and not really doing anything about it except the odd swim, gym session and well…. possible walk. For a while, I had toyed with the idea that maybe I could get to like running – I had admired from afar whilst sipping my coffee and eating my cake those people who just get up, pop their trainers on and just go. At the time, I was in a job where everyone ran. Literally everyone, after work, during lunch, at weekends, in races, events – they would just run. I was the odd one because I didn’t run, I spent my after work time stuck on a train binge watching Mad Men and going to bed exhausted. I wasn’t unhealthy, I eat well.. I just didn’t have the time.
That particular conversation started between Christmas and New Year, you know the week where you’re still drinking from somewhere around midday and meals just blend into one long feast from Christmas Eve to New Years Day. I was on about plate number 4 of cheese and biscuits when we both made the decision to try running with the aim to complete the Race for Life 5k. Because, well, why not? We’d both had testing years, the Race for Life has a personal meaning for Emma, and I had walked it a few times, it has a personal meaning to me as well, but I wanted to do it to prove a point. After spending most of 2014 in physio for my back, some weeks being bedridden, I was ready to get going, get on my feet and get better.
Our first run was January 4th, a wet freezing cold Sunday morning, we had downloaded Couch to 5k, which is the best app to use if you’re a complete running novice. The walk, run interval training helps to start with so you can gauge a pace and a distance without exhausting yourself. You complete 3 runs before the next week, so there is no excuse on missing a workout, you can’t move ahead without completing them! The run was good, by the time we’d finished, we were caked in mud, soaked and freezing, but excited for the challenge ahead!
That week, we also joined a Zumba class to help with our fitness – literally no stopping us now! We still attend the Zumba class – I’m obsessed with it!
We only managed 7 weeks of the 5k app because once we got too busy to run together, we ran on our own and because neither of us wanted to skip ahead to the next workout (we’re too polite for our own good) we had managed to slowly work up our mileage and pace. That once we got back together, we just were able to go.
We encountered many an obstacle on our runs, from a muddy wet dog throwing himself at me one morning, a pack of chow chows disrupting our run because I was so distracted by them I practically ran in the other direction after them, to small yappy things making us jump over them, puddles the size of lakes having to be jumped over, cramp, illness (phoning Emma from Bristol Temple Meads with no voice, breathless and feeling very poorly saying we could still run but I don’t think I would make it was a low) and most recently a bee to the face (THANKS, SUMMER) – these are the obstacles I faced, Emma is fortunate enough to be a normal human being and not attract situations such as muddy dogs and bees.
Anyways, so yesterday started off well, sunny – I was nervous from a bad run on Thursday where cramp was my best friend and I thought I was done for. I found Emma, we zumbaed for the warm up – we took lots of god awful but exciting photos and we lined up. We were proud, so grateful for everyone’s support of us, for everyone who listened to us yap about how great our run was, for everyone who came with us, who sponsored us, who listened to how bad our runs were. We were here, this was it. We lined up. Everyone was saying how chatty we looked, gossiping away. In reality our conversation was this:
“I can’t do this, what if my legs cramp” “can we really run all this way” “we’ve already ran this way” “god I’m nervous” “I’m nervous too” “where are our families? why can’t we see them?!”
Then the countdown came, the gun went off and we started to run, everyone (who we couldn’t see, but who could see us) was still convinced we were gossiping when in reality this was our convo:
“THIS PACE IS TOO FAST! THIS PACE IS TOO FAST! WE’RE GOING TOO FAST!”
“LETS GET ROUND THIS CORNER AND SLOW IT DOWN, NO-ONE WILL SEE US SLOW DOWN THEN!”
We slowed, our conversation, which in every run so far freely came to us just stopped dead to the occasional “slow it down?” “pick it up?” “THIS GODDAMN HILL” “Argh, walkers, no, move!” “sorry” “excuse me!” “I CAN’T RUN ON GRASS! OW!”
It went well, minus on passing the first 1k mark where I proudly declared “only three left to go!” when in fact it was four… which was soul destroying. Two hills, which we kicked butt on and a lot of walkers to go round. My friend Keely came down just to watch us, she had her dog with her and took my niece around with her as she followed us around the course. Which on some points we needed to hear those shouts of “Go Kenresa and Emma!” we picked up the pace and powered through.
On the last 500m, Keely, Adie-May and Meg the dog popped out from behind a bush and screamed COME ON! Those last 500m were the worst best moments of the race. The end was nigh, but my legs had no energy left in them, Emma’s ankle was hurting and we wanted to sprint finish, at this rate it wasn’t looking likely. The course wound round a corner and I seriously felt like the 500m was a massive lie. But then we saw it, the finish line. I said to Emma, “I can’t sprint it, I can’t do it” she agreed. Then, she grabbed my arm and went “lets do this” and we sprinted. Apparently I sprinted, my legs were ruined, I felt like I floated to the end, I also felt I went really fast, I also was under the impression I looked reasonably okay, that I had my head down (to concentrate on not falling on my face) and ran. When in fact, none of these were true. I did not float, I wasn’t fast, and I wasn’t the elite runner I imagined. In fact we were laughing and according to the photos I ran like Jack Sparrow…..
Fit. (Emma is a PRO)
We managed it in 36 minutes, we’re pretty chuffed with it. Emotions were high that we completely forgot to check our time coming through, We weren’t aware that our friends and family were cheering us on as we Jack Sparrowed to the end. I threw my arms around Emma and started crying. My back hurt, my legs hurt but I was bloody chuffed. I looked Emma and she went:
“I’m going to throw up”
She didn’t. We’re good. We eventually found our family and friends, Mum completely missed us coming through the finish (must have been our speedy sprint) Emma’s Mum and boyfriend were nowhere to be seen and I couldn’t find my Dad. Our joy was quickly; “Did no-one see us finish this? after everything?” They did, they were cheering – we didn’t see or hear them (because we were going so damn fast) they took unfortunate photos but they saw it!
To end this novel, we did it. We have the running bug and Emma is going to run 10 miles in October, I’ll continue to train with her and I might even join her. Cancer will still claim 1 in 3 people, it will still hurt when someone we love is taken from us. My back will never be better but I know now, that we can do it. Which in itself is the biggest achievement of it all. Emma *EMOTIONAL ALERT* is the best running partner, who completely gets it. If you’re having a bad day, she encourages you. I wouldn’t have been able to have done it without her. I’m extremely proud of us. We did it!
10 miles anyone?!