Last Sunday I did something I have never ever done before. I ran a race. No big deal really and yet for me it kind of was.
At school I was the chubby short girl. I was shy, quiet, bookish and nervous and I didn’t, as far I knew, have a sporting bone in my body. I hated PE and went to great length to find ways to get out of out. The whole thing was just utterly traumatic to me. It always brought me into direct contact with the girls who were bullying me and to this day I have yet to decide if the teacher was woefully ignorant of what was happening in her class or actually a bully herself. At the time, it certainly felt like she also had it in for me. She would regularly call on me to answer questions and even demonstrate things to the class that she must have known I couldn’t do and thereby providing yet more public humiliation. Her name was Miss Girling and I loathed her. I left school with the knowledge that physical pursuits where not for me, that I was too heavy, too slow, lacked skill and the competitive nature required to play any kind of sport. The only exercise I took was walking places and sometimes I would go for a swim. Through my 20’s I go slowly bigger and bigger, not helped by putting on weight through both my pregnancies until one day in my early 30’s I woke up and saw a hugely overweight person in the mirror.
That might sound a bit insane but it really was that jarring. I knew I was getting bigger and bigger but I kept telling myself it was just the way I was and that I didn’t really care until that day when I did. I took me nearly 3 years to lose the best part of 7stone (that is nearly 100lb) and I did it by cutting down on everything I ate, drinking more fluids, and walking the dog we had got miles and miles every single day. On average 4 miles a day. I went from a (UK) size 20 to a size 8. Since then I have pretty much managed to keep my weight under control although I have put on weight in the last couple of years I am still a size 10/12 but I often think about getting another dog because it seems that walking really did the trick for me but in a bid to help replace the dog I joined a gym. To say I was apprehensive about it would be an understatement but with much support and encouragement from Michael I went off I faced my worries about being too old, too unfit, etc and found that in fact the reality was I was none of those things. Yes there are people there who are super fit and young but there are also people there who are much older, or bigger, or less able-bodied than I am. After nearly 18 months of working out, including running on the treadmill I have gone from walking 4 miles in just over an hour to being able to run 5 miles in just under an hour. I know it’s not fast but for that chubby girl at school who hated her body when it came to exercise it was an amazingly powerful thing.
When my daughter asked to do the 5k Race for Life I nervously agreed. She so wanted to do it, but somewhere inside me that unhappy school girl was lurking and the thought of doing an actual race rather than just doing what I feel like at the gym made me really doubt myself. However I entered us both anyway and kept on doing my weekly runs in the hope that I could transfer some of that new-found running ability to this task. I can’t say I did any specific training, just kept my pace up at the gym and took it easy the week before the race. I set myself the task of making it round in under 45 minutes with the idea that if I made it in 40 minutes I would be really pleased with myself. On the day we set off for the venue and I will happily admit that Michael was right in his post, I really was fucking nervous but once the race started I just concentrated on putting one foot in front of the other, my usual slow but steady pace, which I kept up for the whole 5K and to my absolute pride and delight I crossed the finishing line in 38.57. 38.57 see those numbers? Not only did I finish the race but I did it in under 40 minutes. I am 44, by no means slim and by no means a runner but sheer grit and determination makes up for a lot and I finally ran a race and that evil Miss Girling can shove her contemptuous smirk up her arse.