Well I did it. 10 kilometres. 51 minutes and 55 seconds. With a stinking cold and a moment’s rest on the course because of the pain. 36th woman out of 155 women racing. I am pleased… but the bug has bitten and nothing less than sub-50 will do now.
I’d been training for a couple of months and was really looking forward to testing my mettle in a race. Then the familiar telltale signs reared their ugly head on Thursday: itchy nose, sore throat and extended sneezing. I knew I was done for. Psychologically, I think it defeated me a little and this is something I need to work on for future races.
John was there to encourage me on the sidelines: ‘Keep going, you are doing brilliantly; there are 34 women in front of you’. No pressure there then. It reminded me of my cross-country school days where I would ban my mother from turning up only to find her hiding in a bush along the course counting the girls in front of me: ‘There is only one girl in front of you. RUN!’. In an otherwise painful race, this memory was a bright moment which made me chuckle and up my pace a little.
So what’s next? I’ve already signed up for my next race in a month’s time. And after that? A half-marathon in Brighton in February. Having goals makes me feel alive and well.
We all know why exercise is good for you: it prevents the many contributory factors that can cause heart disease, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels and obesity and it helps stimulate the cells that strengthen your bones. In combination with a healthy diet it helps maintain a healthy body weight, builds up your immune system and research has also shown that regular exercise can reduce your chance of developing certain cancers (colon & breast).
But more than anything for me, it helps me stay mentally healthy. The release of the brain chemical serotonin boosts my mood and reduces any feelings of anxiety and depression. By exerting myself, I am flushing away all the negativity which has built up during the day. The other thing I have found is that exercise gives me focus: as I become fitter, I feel more in tune with my body, more able to up my pace and challenge myself. In turn this makes me feel more in control of my life and health. This feeling of control gives me more confidence and as a result, I become braver and bolder in more areas of my life.
As proved by my recent lack of exercise, which has manifested itself through a subdued mood and a general sense of apathy, it is high time I got back on the road: running, cycling, walking. First stop, the Swiss mountains this weekend…
…more about that next week.