Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Great Manchester Run(ner)


Well, duuuuuh, of course you did, I can hear a few people saying. And a bit "well, duh" from me, too. Once I'd forked over that money there was no way I was coming home without a finisher's pack, was there...I'm too stubborn for that!

 Mah shiny

I've learned an enormous amount. The event was absolutely bloody huge, completely unlike even the biggest swims I've done. The crowd, the finding my way around beforehand, the fretting about the weather - these things led me to be anxious, far too early, too far forward in my wave and definitely overdressed (to be fair, I wasn't the only one shedding a wind jacket after 2km!). I really wasn't prepared for the noise from the entertainment/supporters en route, either. I often run at night on fairly deserted roads with just my MP3 for company, so getting any kind of focus was desperately difficult in places. And of course as primarily a long-distance swimmer, silence is kind of important to me!

I (naturally) didn't put in quite enough training to consider it a complete success - even having run virtually the entire distance bar 10m in training, I did walk a significant chunk of the third kilometre, and off-and-on from 7km. Despite the walking, it was still a PB - 1.26.08, not stellar by any means but at least improvements will be easy to see! Thankfully I don't appear to have particularly aggravated an injury I picked up a couple of weeks ago, probably at the karate tournament (for which I won a shiny silver in the kumite, by the way). Nor have my shonky Achilles given out. I did, in fact, sprint over the line, mostly because I saw my previous PB coming up on the clock and I was trying to beat it - turns out my TomTom disagreed with my timing chip by about a minute, so I was well under. I'm glad I did, though, as Eldest spotted me ("Mum, your ponytail was flying!"), and I was so hoping for that. I want my girls to see that sport is normal whatever your age or size.

I didn't run this race for charity, I ran it to prove a point to myself. The point's changed a number of times during training, and I'm not really sure what it is any more. Partly it was to prove that I could stick to a commitment - that shouldn't really be an issue, given the rest of my life's record, but I wondered if I could stick to something I didn't enjoy at first, and do it til I got better. Turns out I could.

I also wanted to prove that I really could #sufferbutNEVERsurrender and truly earn my Team Bear colours, as it were, since HQ were kind enough to get a vest to me in time for the day. Swimming is easy (stop laughing at the back, you triathletes ;-) - ok, I struggle to get faster, but I'm like a wind-up toy - plonk me in a lake and I'll see you on the other side. At least, that's my attitude: Bala will test that in July. For running I really have suffered - it's painful, there have been days when I've cried on my way out of the door, days I've defiantly taken a nap instead of running, days when literally every wheel on my little red wagon has fallen off. There have been really big changes in my life work-wise (i.e., I'm actually doing some work/study/training every day now), and rounds of illness for us all, plus changing commitments to other sports, so making time has been challenging. But whilst I suffered on the course on Sunday, there was no way I was giving up.

I think I did earn my colours this weekend. I worked for it, and I got what I worked for - a PB that could have been even quicker, a shiny piece of bling for my box, and some pretty serious proud faces from people who know what I've worked through since I had this whole crazy idea.

Cathy promised me cake if I finished. IF?! 
Also, how mad is my hair. I look like Einstein's younger, slapheadier sister.

Bit of a hot button topic going on at the moment - does this now make me a runner? Opinions vary on the very definition. My opinion for me is that yes, I am now a runner.

Not because I completed a race (I've done that before).

Not because I ran most of it.

Not because I enjoy running. I still don't like it, but I don't fear it any more and that's actually HUGE.

Not because I can now tolerate my body in capris and a vest. Why yes, I have had a problem showing my bare arms and legs, and covered-but-wobbly belly to the general public. This is despite being able to strip to a swimsuit and jump in at a moment's notice, ask random strangers to zip up my wetsuit or be completely blase about the existence of free-range nipples in change tents around the UK.

Not because a friend who is a multiple GNR-veteran innocently asked what my next event was, and just grinned when I said I'd got another 10k in November plus a 5k my Eldest is doing as well.

I'm a runner because I can't imagine my life without it.

That's all.

And I don't give a rat's ass what anyone else thinks.