Warning: depending on your constitution, you may be in need of either tissues or a sick bucket if you get to the end…
Well gosh, how I’ve missed this place! Today is the first day I’ve been able to get back on here since the “troubles” and I have to say – I’m different person than I was two weeks ago! Back then I did my first outdoor run for week 8 and managed to drag myself around the streets for 5k in circa 45 minutes. What a feeling that was – one that I didn’t really think I could better. How wrong I was!
I pitched the remainder of week 8 and week 9 so that my graduation run would fall on Saturday. Runs one and two of week 9 were hard work due to the heat – even at stupid o’clock in the gym – as I dare say everyone found (but I am yet to catch up on all the blogs I’ve missed). There were niggles in my legs, my gammy right knee, and the ball of my left foot, and if I hadn’t set my heart on Saturday’s parkrun I may well have cried off. But with my biggest cheerleader (my partner) in tow, we dutifully set out at 8am, equipped with oodles of water, a banana, a towel, a picnic blanket (knowing she would be in for a loooooooong wait) and no shortage of tummy butterflies. I definitely felt like the new girl, totally out of place doing my five minute warm up walk while the pros around me jogged and sprinted and stretched their athletic selves. But then after a quick welcome we were away at 9am on the dot, me bringing up the rear as was always my intention, three laps of Wolverhampton’s flat West Park.
Flat? You jest!
I had three times in my head. 45 minutes – the approximate time of my only other outdoor 5k. 42 minutes – my average dreadmill pace (including warm up/warm down walks). And 40 minutes – the stuff of dreams.
The leaders started passing me about half way round my first lap, but I’d already prepared myself for that and didn’t get flustered. As I completed lap 1 there was my little cheerleader egging me on and I felt pretty good. At the end of my second lap I wanted a time check – cheerleader panicked, checked her (notoriously inaccurate) watch and shouted “half past 9!” which put me a little on the slow side but I was still in touch with the people ahead of me. Lap 3 hurt the most, by this time the pros were effortlessly pounding the course in the opposite direction for fun, but I got a few “well done!”s and “keep going!”s which I thanked them for. By the finishing uphill stretch I had lost sight of everyone ahead of me and I knew my cheerleader would be fretting like the proverbial expectant father just around the corner. And then I was there, managed a little puff out of the chest and the vaguest injection of speed as the finishers/volunteers clapped me into the line, and I was done! I did it! Last of the finishers, although a couple had dropped out, but I really didn’t care. Cheerleader checked her (marginally less inaccurate) phone and declared 9:42, which I was thrilled to bits with. I thanked everyone profusely and off we wandered back to the car sharing our stories and excitement, not sure which of us was the proudest, or which of us enjoyed it the most, or which of us couldn’t wait for the next one the most.
When my results email came through later in the day and declared a time of 38:37, I thought it was too good to be true. Nevertheless, I celebrated with gusto and congratulated myself profusely, even going to the full results page to see it for myself with my own eyes. And there it was!
Until yesterday, when it wasn’t. 38:37 is now attributed to the runner in front of me, and my time is showing as 40:03. I’ve no idea how the mix-up happened, and if anything there was a twinge of disappointment, but nothing can take the shine off what was otherwise a glorious day in my life and graduation from Couch to 5k in style. 40 minutes – the time I dreamt about on Friday night…
So, for anyone still with me, here’s the emotional bit. That a morbidly obese, pacemakered heap of a 36 year old female body can be prodded, persuaded, cajoled, urged and dragged to jog around a park three times, for 5 – count them! – 5 whole kilometres. That body, with its dodgy heart and its gammy knee, with the scars of 10 years of horrific childhood abuse and 7 years of marital abuse still visible and raw and hurting. I feel like I have stumbled into this amazing community of people from all walks of life who come together to find and share their passion for one of the simplest of pleasures, be they fellow C25K bloggers, graduates and other supporters, or the amazing parkrun family which has such a non-judgmental spirit of acceptance and encouragement. And not to mention my own little cheerleader. And at the centre of this new little universe I have discovered me, the one drawing all the threads together, commanding the body, learning from the support, leaning on the cheerleader, and soaking up the spirit. Another step on my journey from a very dark existence, through the sunrise of surviving, and out into a bright new world of living. Thank you to every last one of you for being a little part of this with me.