On Sunday morning I ran race 11 of my 2016 challenges. Can you believe it? Sometimes I am stunned that I have made it this far. Never more so than this month. With the dark nights, plummeting temperatures and now rain/sleet to contend with, motivation to keep running is in short supply. The usual and unusual monkey business at home has also been applying the pressure. If you have ever struggled with life some days, then these are the times that you need to find your little bit of freedom. My runs become more than just battling the raindrops from the clouds. Getting to the start line on Sunday was about overcoming the raindrops at home too. This run certainly didn’t disappoint when it came to muddy madness but at least the raindrops held off a little after the starters hooter went off.
It’s good to know that you survived
Sunday’s race was the Billingham Beck 5k. Part of the Stockton winter trail series. It was raining, it was cold, it was muddy, it was going to be hard work. As I looked out into the greyness of the day I reflected on how much this race was going to be like my life in recent weeks. These races are often the best because they come with the greatest sense of achievement. The same rules apply to overcoming the difficult weeks. When the dust has settled it always feels good to know that you survived. Not just survived but did a good job too.
Since returning to work in September it has been hard work. Juggling three monkeys, their needs and crisis’s (big back teeth, broken bones and the ever changing emotional stages of growing up), Mr LMR, my job and then just my own sanity. The truth is, I fell off my “To Do” list. I’m feeling it too. The monster has been to call which means I was not coping as well as I am letting on. Not that you would realise. Some days I think it is all too much, then I give myself a pep talk and paint on my brave face and keep going.
A nightly dose of torture
Today’s race was very much the same. Sometimes you know that life is going to keep throwing difficulties in your way but you have to straighten your back, brace yourself and keep going. Little Miss is currently providing us with a nightly dose of torture in the form of dragging myself and Mr LMR back from sleep only minutes after drifting off. This has happened every night for the last I don’t know how long. Her timing is incredible. It is making bedtimes extremely anxious.
Someone told me that when they are teething a baby’s sleep is light and even the slightest noise can wake them. But this is different. We have tried going to bed at different times, in the dark and in silence. It doesn’t seem to make a jot of difference as even when we are making noise she doesn’t wake up until the house has fallen silent and then she waits until you are sliding into the abyss of deep and desperately needed sleep. The kind of sleep that you are dragged kicking and screaming back from. We’ve tried ignoring it but she only gets louder and will also start banging her bedroom door against the end of the cot. This form of sleep deprivation would rival any form of torture for breaking a spy found over enemy lines. Little Miss is clearly an expert. It’s no wonder it takes an extensive effort to function properly at the minute.
Muddy slippy and a bit frightening in places
Sunday’s course was muddy, slippy and a bit frightening in places. Thank God for the carefully placed St John’s ambulance man near the half way marker. At times recently I have looked in the mirror and said I can’t do this anymore. It is too hard and the fear of the possible unknown obstacles ahead became overwhelming. But what was my choice? On Sunday morning I had no choice either because I made a promise. A promise to me, to Raindrops to Rainbows and to Heather. I will run these runs so that I can do my bit to support others that find every day a rainy, freezing cold, uphill climb.
Today’s race was two laps, by the second time round you knew the dangers, the difficult patches. We were lapped by faster runners, momentarily feeling disheartened and intimidated. That is until your passing them as you lap the finish line. “Well done”, “keep going ladies”. As our doubts in life lead us to believe others are our enemy because they are just rushing past you, focussing on their own life, head down not noticing you. Once your paths cross however, their welcome support is warming and motivating. Don’t judge a runner by their speed or the quality of their running gear. Whether they are fast or slow, young or old, coming in first or staggering in last, they all started somewhere.
I have come a long way
On days when it feels like there are only raindrops, look around you for your support. Know that your own challenges can be faced. Pace yourself and accept the help, encouragement and praise. Even if you don’t know how. Have hope that the rain clouds will part and ease your journey momentarily even if they return later.
By the end of Sunday’s race I felt amazing. From waking up and seeing the rain with a sinking feeling to crossing the finish line covered in mud and over the moon. It felt like a huge achievement. To be fair the fact that the rain stopped while we raced really helped. I guess some good luck was shining down as it started again shortly after we crossed the finish line. Finishing this race also meant that there was only one race left this year. I’ve come a long way. There will still be difficult days but I now cope so much better. I know what I need and I know that I need to find a little bit of it every day.
One race left
Well then, almost there. One race left in my 2016 year of 5k races. Due to other family engagements I have to leave the Stockton winter trail series but I hope to pick it up again in the new year. For my next race I will be running What a Wheeze with asthma UK in Ropner Park on 18 December. This will be a full circle back to where I started in January. This time though I will stand on the start line confident, lighter and leaner. Possibly a little hung over too as we are at a wedding the day before. As an asthmatic myself it also made sense to return to my park that I know so well to support two good causes.