I love a bit of race bling. I’ve always thought it’s symbolic of the effort I’ve put in, both in terms of my training and the race itself.
In the past I’ve always run for me, whether I’ve run as a member of a formal running club or more recently on my own. It’s always been about trying to get the best time I can based on the training I’ve been able to do.
The last race I went to, prior to last weekend, I arrived on my own, ran on my own and then just went home by myself. The boys are really still too young to come to watch me run. It wouldn’t really be much fun for them if I’m honest. If you’re spectating it’s lots of waiting around for, what is in essence, a glimpse of the person you’re supporting before you see them at the finish. Not very fun if you’re four and two, especially if the weather’s not great.
Last weekend, however, was a bit of an eye opener. I’ve just joined an amazing group called This Mum Runs. There are a few runs across the UK, I go along to the Cardiff one, but they are also based in Bristol, London and Bath. The idea of the group is for mums to get together to run and get to know each other. In the few weeks that the Cardiff group has been going I’ve met so many lovely and inspiring women. It’s amazing to be part of this new community.
A few weeks ago and I got chatting to one of the other members, Nat, about the chaos that comes with having children, how running is part of what keeps us sane and about race times. She was keen to break an hour for her 10K time and I offered to run with her as support to see if I could help. I should say at this point I have no experience at pacing others!
Which brings us to last weekend and the Cardiff Bay Run 2019, a 2K family run and a 10K race. Being part of This Mum Runs meant that I had people to chat to to disperse the pre-race nerves and celebrate afterwards with. What was nice about getting together with others before the race was chatting about what we wanted to achieve, spurring each other on and to supporting one another. It was such a lovely feeling to be part of something that really meant a lot to all of us.
Nat, Lisa and I set off with the goal to get round in under an hour. Nat’s best 10K time was 1:02 and Lisa had run a 10K about six weeks previous in 1:07.
The race taught me two things; firstly I’m rubbish at pacing. The aim was to get around in under the hour. We all finished in under 59 minutes. I promised we’d start slowly, and it didn’t feel too fast at the time, but when my phone beeped to say how fast we’d set off I did worry that I’d blown it for us. Both Nat and Lisa were amazing and powered through and as a result got massive improvements on their 10K race times. I was so pleased for them and did apologise afterwards for setting the pace much faster than I planned to.
The second is that it’s not all about the bling. Supporting others to achieve their goals was a privilege and I was so pleased I was in a position to do that. It’s certainly made me look at how I approach races going forward and made me want to do more to support others in their goals rather than just running for me. I felt the sense of achievement Nat and Lisa got from going beyond their expectations and it’s nice to know I was part of that.
There’s now a few of us braving the Cardiff Half marathon in October with a lot of us aiming for that magical sub two hour finish. I know that if I need support I’ve now got a group of women who have my back and they’ll be there for me when the going gets tough. I’ll be there for them too.
It’s taken four and a half years of motherhood but I feel like I’m finally finding myself again.
*I’ve not told This Mum Runs that I’m posting this blog but I felt I wanted to write about my experiences as they’ve made a huge difference to me and I think it’s an amazing initiative. Here’s the link if you’d like to take a look http://www.thismumruns.co.uk/home