Due to Christmas frivolity, too much chocolate and cheese and a toddler who has given up on sleep, it has taken me a couple of weeks to get this written. I really wanted to try and do it justice though, as this race has been the final goal for 2016. At times this year I have wondered why I set myself this challenge or if anyone cared enough about it to help me raise any cash for Raindrops to Rainbows. I was wrong. With carefully placed steps that built up over the year. Regular donations and increased support my year of running 5k races has been a success. I felt this on the morning of 18th December back in the park where it all began 12 months previously.
My final race was the What a Wheeze 5k Christmas Cracker in Ropner Park for Asthma U.K. It is a local event in it’s second year and organised by Tracey Wright one of the founder members of the Fairfield Harriers (Race 8). It was the perfect setting given that the first race I completed started at the very same spot (Race 1: Winning the Fight With Myself).
The course involved three laps of my park. A stones throw from my home. A route I know like the back of my hand. A place where, over the last year, I have fought many a mental battle with my body and mind. It could be nowhere else. As I stood on this start line however I was different. I looked different and I felt different. This whole challenge changed me for the better. With the help of a few friends.
A Roll Call of Thanks
There are a number of people I need to thank for getting me through the last 12 races. Steph from Raindrops to Rainbows for giving me a wonderful cause to support. The members of my family who have helped, supported and run with me. Especially my big sister Katy, who has run 10 of my 12 races with me. We put many a parenting/marriage/work/life dilemma to bed during these runs.
My lovely friend Rachael, who I didn’t really know when I set out on this challenge. Despite loathing the thought of running, she ran with me at various intervals over the year. Most notably at my side for Race 10:Broken Bones and Tummy Troubles, the hardest of all my races. She has been a constant support throughout and again at my side for my final race.
To everyone who donated to my final total of £450 (£40 in donations direct to the gofundme page and £410 in cash). Special thanks go to Rebecca who pledged £10 per race throughout the year. Her generosity kept me going and reminded me that my efforts were worthwhile when sometimes I wanted to give in.
I cannot miss this opportunity to give special thanks to Mr LMR and the monkeys. Throughout the year Mr LMR quietly supported me by helping me make time to run. He supported every race and on many occasions wrestled the monkeys out to the finish line to support me. Seeing them there made me so proud. Despite sometimes giving me cause to want to run away, they have run with me and I always run to be a better Mummy for them.
It isn’t about Marathons
When I look back on this year of running, I wonder what I have achieved. I am amazed at how much I have made for a great cause and I hope I have motivated a few others along the way too. For me however I have achieved so much more. When I set this challenge I doubted that it would enough. That people wouldn’t think much of it because it isn’t a marathon. It wasn’t a big enough test of endurance.
To me, however, on New Year’s Eve 2015, it was a marathon. It was a long road. I didn’t know if I could find the confidence or the time. I set my challenges as small steps that add up to my own personal marathon. I knew that as I took time to readjust to the addition of Little Miss to the monkey house I needed to find something for me.
It’s about putting one foot in front of the other
So 12 months on I have run well over a marathon. Twelve 5k races alone add up to almost one and a half marathons. I have continued to run at times I would have given up in the past. As a result, I felt so much better. It was hard at times and sometimes it was just about putting one foot in front of the other.
Recovery is like this. The end goal can feel a marathon away. The finish line so desperately wanted but the thought of the mental endurance too much to start. The only way to make progress is to break the journey down. Make each section manageable. Then each small goal achieved will build confidence little by little. Each small step taking you closer to the finish line.
As 2016 comes to a close I know I need to keep moving forward. I know now, however, that I don’t need to set big challenges right now. As the monkeys throw their own challenges my way, all I need is 20 minutes of freedom most days. A reason to keep doing this, by setting future goals. All I need is an open mind, a breath of fresh air, my trainers, a good sports bra and a small stretch of open pavement.