For Everyone Involved in the Race for Life

Dear Everyone involved in the Newcastle Race for Life 2015,

I shouted ‘thank you’ and ‘well done’ to as many of you as I could yesterday but with so many people attending the Race for Life, Newcastle, it wasn’t really enough. That and the fact that I was only just wheezing it, probably inaudibly, from about 2km into the 10k run.

So I thought I would write to everyone involved as well.

It started off personal, doing this Race for Life. A challenge to my post-baby fitness to run 10k as fast as I could and then get round the 5k course. A personal way to remember my 3 grandparents and sister-in-law taken by various forms of cancer. More positively to celebrate my cousin surviving 5 years cancer free after her breast cancer diagnosis in her late 20s.

An opportunity with the incredibly support of my generous family and friends to raise a bit of money for cancer research.

It turns out to have been so much more than that.

I wanted to say such a huge congratulations to everyone who made it round the course.

You were all amazing.

Those of you who sprinted round in 20-odd minutes and those who made it round in well over an hour.

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The time and the ‘race’ didn’t actually reflect how incredible you all were. What you really achieved was to take your experiences of sadness, suffering, sorrow or survival and turning them into something positive.

So many of you had signs on your backs telling us why you were running. I read as many of them as I could. Some still make me tear up:

‘For myself’

‘For everyone still fighting’

‘For my Mam’

‘For my Dad who beat cancer. And my baby sister who didn’t’

‘For a world where my one year old daughter can grow up without fear of cancer’

So many stories. So much motivation to raise money for further cancer research.

I’ve never been anywhere surrounded with so much sadness and positivity at the same time.

At the start you all stood in silence for a minute remembering your personal reasons for running. I stood there too, and joined in with some of your tears.

THEN

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There was an explosion of pink shiny ribbons. Minutes later there was a sea of awesome ladies in pink, a few with tutus and fairy wings, bopping to the warm up music.

Fabulous.

So congratulations to you all if you were part of this. Your stories were heartbreaking and inspiring. Your running, jogging, walking and dancing with such motivation a privilege to have been a part.

To the organisers, volunteers and supporters a huge thank you too. This incredible event could not have taken place without you. You made what could have been a difficult trek round many kilometres feel fun. Your enthusiasm actually made me smile at 8km into my run. I don’t think ANYTHING else has ever achieved this.

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Thank you so much everyone at the Race for Life, I think half a million pounds were raised in Newcastle over this weekend for further cancer research!
Have you ever been involved in a Race for Life? I’d love to read any of your comments.

Please note I was a little carried away with everything on the day and did not take a single picture. So please forgive these posed ones taken on my return home. I am quite clearly not a fitness model, and did not think to shower or fix my hair post-run, but was very proud to be wearing my new T-shirt!

I’m delighted to be able to share this post with #fitnesstuesday at http://www.fitness4mamas.com And here

#BloggingToJogging

Running with gratitude

Running with gratitude (the slightly less cool version of running with attitude)

The exhilaration of a bit of time to myself is matched by the wonderful feeling of freedom running along the beautiful Northumberland coast.

But on some days I’m exhausted. Emotionally and physically. There can’t be many jobs that require you to walk around doubled over, both hands occupied by a small want-to-be-toddler. Simultaneously dealing with the capricious whims of 2-year-old want-to-be (insert interchangeably dancer, doctor, shop keeper, member of Peppa pig) Parenting is amusing, beautiful and ever-changing, but relaxing it is not.

Some days getting out the house to soft play is a 45-minute ordeal. Getting my trainers on at the end of Mummy duty (or rather the evening break before night shift starts) requires a little effort.

But then I remember. I am so lucky to be able to run.

To do this thing that I love, that is also good for my body physically and good for my mind emotionally (I’m still talking about running, tsk no smut here.)

I’m so grateful because after the birth of Pumpkin I wasn’t sure I would run again.

Two weeks after the birth of my gorgeous, and hefty 9 pound 2 baby boy, I discovered I had a third degree uterine prolapse.

As a medical professional I was fairly sure of the diagnosis even before it was confirmed by my GP. I knew that it could potentially result in bothersome but ultimately not serious symptoms.

As a women I cried a little. I quite liked my organs where they were. Most of all I cried because I was worried I would never run with freedom again.

Running has always been part of my life. I would not consider myself a serious runner. I usually ran alone for enjoyment rather than competition. However, the thought of not being able to run without risking further damage to my pelvic floor was difficult.

Of course I like to think if running wasn’t to be I would have coped graciously. Loss of running pales into insignificance in comparison to many of the things I see at work.

But I was lucky.

My prolapse dramatically improved and by the time I attended for my 6 week postpartum check it had almost fully resolved.

So when I lose motivation or when I’m tired at the end of the day sometimes I curl up on the sofa and enjoy precious time with my husband.

Even on those nights. I know how lucky I am. That at any time I can put on my trainers and go out for a run. The freedom that could have been taken away from me is a constant motivation to go out and exercise.

Of course I am also human. Some days when I run I am tired, achy and disinterested. But mostly these days I run with gratitude.

How do you feel about exercise? Is it a chore when you are too busy or is it something to look forward to as a bit of an escape and time for yourself?

Please note this is not a formal review of evidence about running with prolapse. I will be writing more on this topic later. This post was primarily focussing on my emotions.  I hope some of the following might be of interest if you are concerned about running and prolapse. 

Running in Lavender

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Fitness 4 Mamas

Parkrun

5k Parkrun

On Saturday I ventured out into the wind and cold voluntarily before 9am. Actually the time is irrelevant. As to a Mummy with two little ones 5am is a bit early, 9am is most certainly not.

The wind and the cold were braved in order for me to participate in a 5k parkrun. This marks the first timed run in which I have taken part since having baby Pumpkin.

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For those of you who have never heard of parkruns, these are fantastic weekly organised runs that happen in many locations around the country. The events are free and open to runners of all ages and abilities. They usually take place on a Saturday morning around 9am, often through picturesque locations.

How to take part in a Parkrun

Prior to taking part in a parkrun you need to register online. A unique bar code is then generated and you print this and take it to the run.

My local Parkrun takes place on the Whitely Bay Links Common, this is a pretty green area adjacent to the sea front. The course is a mixture of gravel and tarmac paths and involves a couple of small inclines.

What is it like to take part

  • My local parkrun this week had 302 participants!
  • The fastest runner completed the 5k run in a fairly quick 17 minutes 23 seconds
  • The slowest few runners all finished in just under an hour
  • During my run I was overtaken by 2 dads pushing pushchairs.
  • I ran past several children (and was overtaken by a couple too!).
  • I saw several dogs running alongside their owners too.

Forever Young

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Overall it is a really inclusive event. The Parkrun is supervised by voluntary marshals, who point you in the right direction and provide friendly support as you run.

Results

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Later on the day of the Parkrun you receive your results via email. This gives you your time, gender position, overall position and also age grading. You can also look them up online and will see a list of all of the participants and their times.

The age grading is a cleaver score that allows you to compare yourself against someone of a different gender or different age. The higher the score the better the performance. These scores are calculated as a percentage against the world record for your gender and age group.

My experience

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On saturday, I completed the 5k distance feeling tired but not exhausted. I was a whole 4 minutes slower than my personal best so plenty of room for improvement. This still represents a huge achievement for me.

**NOTE: For those of you who feel uncomfortable, or uncomprehending at the term ‘pelvic floor’ I suggest you skip these last two paragraphs***

After having Pumpkin the weakness of my abdomen (diastasis recti) also caused weakness of my pelvic floor and a uterine prolapse. Running is one of the activities that may exacerbate a prolapse. Fortunately for me this has now resolved. I’m not going to go into any more details now, but suffice to say I am delighted to be able to run with all my organs in their correct anatomical position.

So on Saturday morning I could have stayed at home, having a calm family morning with my two angelic children. Or more realistically a chaotic, noisy morning full of laughter and the occasional tantrum. Instead I thoroughly enjoyed my 5k run, despite the wind and the cold, and am immensely grateful to have been physically able to participate.

30 Second Summary: Parkruns are free 5k running events that take place on weekend mornings in various locations throughout the country. The runs are friendly and inclusive of all ages and abilities. The results system is thorough and allows a participant to easily track their progress against themselves and other competitors.

Do you have any experience of parkruns or other 5k runs? Or like me have you had any injuries or complications that have made running more challenging? Do leave any thought in the comments section.
Further information

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