Last August I did me first 10K at the Resolution run in Finsbury Park for the Stroke Association. While Finsbury Park isn't the most spectacular location (indeed during the post race cool down I had to physically restrain my two-year-old from playing with the used condoms littered around the post I was using to stretch out on) it was a great run. A few undulations made it challenging for a new runner, but it was flat enough to offer plenty of scope for recovery.
What this event really did for me was to make sure that I was well and truly bitten by the racing bug. Oh dear. I immediately entered another 10K, the Women Only Shock Absorber run in Richmond Park. That was a delightful race despite a freezing day and I managed a PB of under 50 minutes (OK only three seconds, but who's counting?).
Next up is the 8.2 mile Whole Foods Breakfast Run in Kingston on 1 April and then I have my first half marathon in my sights in July, The Down Tow, Up Flow half along the Thames. Really I would have liked to run one sooner, but my other half wasn't too pleased by the idea of being left in charge of childcare in the depths of winter while I trained and therein lies the rub.
I really wish I had had the foresight not to waste my 20s in pubs, clubs and bars and had instead got a marathon or two under my belt when I had all the time in the world to train, and indeed a younger body to do it with. Now training has to be squeezed in between ferrying my sons to their own activities and parties, making time for my beloved and doing all the general household chores that accompany being a mum of four.
I cannot a long run that I didn't do with a guilty conscience perched on my shoulder. It is not my desire to improve my PB that drives me ever faster, it is the need to get home and relieve my husband of his domestic duties. Bless him he rarely complains, but he has put his foot firmly down about doing a marathon until the kids are older and easier to manage (we hope).
I suspect is the same for all running mums. I have a friend who gets up at the crack of dawn so she can get her long run in before her family surfaces at the weekend. She has also immensely upped her time on her usual route as she speeds through it to get back home to her role as wife and mum. Others have simply given up now that the dark, cold days have curtailed the running window of opportunity so much.
It is a shame that my responsibilities make achieving my goals that little bit harder, but I am not sure I would have remained so determined if I didn't want to prove what you can do no matter what your circumstances. I am often tempted to run in a shirt that says "Yes, I might be slower than you, but do you have four children aged under 10?" I can't tell you the pleasure it gives me overtaking younger, less encumbered women too. I really am that shallow, but on race day I say whatever it takes you to drive you to the finish.