22 September 2019
Freedom Racing on the Cornish cliffs - I'm number 116.
Over the years I’ve classed myself as many things, a wife, a mum, an employee… They are all things that I am proud of, that I value, and things that I think I do well, but I guess over time, it is hard to define yourself as someone or something without relying on others for that definition. To be any of those things, I always need someone else. I didn’t really have many hobbies and for a while I lost sight of who I was. It has become clear that to have something that is just mine is actually really important.
On Saturday I ran a race. It was 10 miles, which gave me quite some time on the trails in the woods by myself. I don’t run with others, which can be a good thing as I get plenty of time to myself to think, but also it can be lonely, especially when the going gets tough and there is no one to help you along. I didn’t find it as mentally challenging as I do some races. I’ve often said that my body runs better than my mind does. Sometimes it is hard to get to the start line, let alone over it and as this one was quite long I doubted myself. Especially as the first mile or so was a long drag up a hill. There were a lot of hills, and only the front runners ran these, back where I was we dropped to a fast walk. Rather than panic I just ran and before I knew it I’d settled into a nice rhythm. Some of the course was on my home parkrun course, so I knew it quite well, maybe this helped? I thought it would make it worse as every time I thought I knew where we were going we veered off in another direction. The end was possibly the most challenging as we ran past the finish at nine and a half miles and had to do another loop in the other direction before coming back the other way to cross the line! That was hard!
While it was a challenging race, I was immensely proud of running it. No one else got me round that course. I could have been at home on the sofa, watching the TV. It was a rainy Saturday so there were a lot of other things I could have done instead. I chose to run 10 miles in rain and mud and I rubbed a blister on my heel. I think I need some new trail trainers. But as I was running it dawned on me, I might not be the fastest, I might not be the fittest, but I am a runner now. That definition belongs just to me and others like me, it doesn’t rely on someone else to make me a runner. By putting my shoes on and getting out the door, no matter how long or short a run, I am doing something that I couldn’t do a year or so ago. To those of you who choose to run, no matter how fast or slow, just remember that you are always lapping those people who stay on their couch!
Thanks for reading!
Me and my little monkey!
I’d heard and read about ‘being authentic’, it features quite highly in a lot of self-help type books. The idea is that you should really own being you and show that to the world. It is a brave thing to do and the right thing, because surely all we want is to be liked for who we are? That being said, it is a hard thing. One that I find hard, I’m always worried I’m not getting things quite right, always afraid that I will be judged. I am sure a lot of people feel the same way.
Recently I posted a long blog post which was truly authentic. I re-read it, and before I could think too much more about it I posted it for all to read. Well, I wasn’t expecting it to get shared so many times, and for it to be read by so many, but I’m glad it did. It felt like a weight had been lifted, that I could finally show who I really was. My husband and children know and have always known the real me, but my anxiety does tend to mean I put up a bit of a wall with other people. On the outside I am fine, on the inside, not always quite so much, but believe me, I am so much better than before.
Writing things down helped me own my past but more importantly the fact that I have moved on and overcome a lot of challenges. It gave me strength and actually reinforced to me what I have achieved. It’s funny though, at the weekend I saw a runner I know well, and we chatted before the start of a race. I was congratulated on my post, and told it was ‘brave’. That meant a lot. I’m so grateful that bearing my thoughts and feelings is seen that way. It makes me feel proud to think I have experienced a lot, that I am still here, and if that provides a little bit of inspiration to others then I am really happy for that. Reading the experiences of others helped me a lot, and I’m glad to share with you too. It makes me feel naked though in a way because I’ve suddenly let so many people into my head. It is very strange to think so many people know my inner most thoughts and feelings.
So I guess with authenticity comes a level of vulnerability. If I allow the world to see me for who I really am, then I am not pretending, but I am taking down my armour and being me. It’s empowering to let the world see me, if not a little nerve wracking, but I guess now, what you see is what you get.
Thanks for reading.