On Sunday 1st May 2022, I took part in the Alderley Edge Bypass 10k, organised by Run North West.
This event marked the start of a busy few months in my race calendar, and I can’t tell you how excited this makes me! 😍
Running events tend to be staggered throughout the winter, so it’s great to see my weekends bursting with upcoming races again.
My God, I have missed the buzz of race day!
As odd as it sounds, I love setting my alarm at an ungodly hour for race day. Usually, I’m so hyped up that I wake long before my alarm anyway.
“What time are you up in the morning?” My husband asked warily before we went to bed Saturday night.
“Half five!” I replied brightly.
My husband visibly grimaced. “Well can we please make sure that any pre-race playlists are enjoyed through headphones?”
... I don’t know about you, but I just don’t think Livin’ on a Prayer has the same impact when condensed down into headphone format. 5:30am or not - that’s a banger that’s supposed to be enjoyed by hundreds of ears, not refined to just two!
So there I was at half past five in the morning on Sunday, sat at the dining room table scoffing my Jelly Baby and Aldi rip-off Frosties concoction, getting my Bon Jovi on alongside my trainers.
The hamster blinked at me furiously (deffo more of a Queen kinda gal herself).
You can’t begrudge me – it’s been a long-ass winter plagued by injury and I’m just beyond buzzing to be back racing!
The Alderley Edge Bypass 10k is one of my favourite events. I got my PB on this course last year (40:24) and it has had a special place in my heart ever since. ❤️
Here‘s last years blog: https://www.carajasminebradley.com/post/alderley-edge-bypass-10k-sunday-22nd-august-2021
I wasn’t foolish enough to think that I would finish anywhere near that time again this year.
I have been building my form back up slowly after my knee injury and haven’t hit the 40-minute mark in training. Even when I smashed my half-marathon PB in Malta with a time of 1 hour 36 minutes, I ran pretty even splits of 48 minutes per 10k. The only two 10k races I have taken part in since my injury saw me finish in 43:04 (Wilmslow Festive 10k) and 43:10 (Tatton 10k).
With this in mind, I was aiming for a time under 45 minutes, but ideally sub 43.
One of the boasting points of the Alderley Edge Bypass 10k is the live music. I deliberately left my headphones at home after remembering last year’s affair, which consisted of a guy singing ‘I Get Knocked Down, But I Get Up Again’ as we careered through the kilometres.
Yesterday’s event included an incredible choir and three absolute legends on DJ decks.
In my opinion, music has the power to boost even the most vicious 6k slump.
The choir were positioned under one of the bridges, and the powerful echo of their beautiful voices was so emotive. As their harmonies drifted out, they clapped for the passing runners. The sound evolved in the atmosphere and lifted me off my feet.
Meanwhile, the guys on the DJ decks were blaring out Phat’s & Small’s absolute tune ‘Turn Around.’ For those blissful few seconds as I passed the decks, I was able to ignore my seething stitch and allow the thumping baseline to charge my legs.
Spectators stood on the bridges and yelled their encouragement, which was another huge pick-me-up.
The route was mostly flat, aside a few 'gentle slopes’ which I begrudgingly remembered from last year. The hill that pops up at around the 9k mark is a bit of a killer, but as soon as I heard the chorus of cheers from the crowd lining the finishing arch, I found the wings I needed to carry me home.
There’s just something so humbling about seeing a stream of runners streaking out in-front of and behind you in a blur of brightly coloured vests, each one of us doing something remarkable on this overcast Bank Holiday Sunday morning.
All of us behold a different story and motivation, but unite in our passion and drive.
What a bloody brilliant tribe we make!
Another element of the Alderley Edge Bypass 10k that I enjoy is the fact that the course is looped, so you can see runners coming up and down the opposite side of the track.
The support from other runners is heart-warming.
We all get those moments out there where we start to doubt ourselves. Our motivation dwindles and we question our ability. The thought of stopping, even if just for a second, becomes all the more tantalising. All it can take to carry us through these moments is a pat on the back from a passing runner, or a shout of, “KEEP GOING!”
I often say that all runners have this unspoken bond that requires very few words, and I love seeing this in action at events. It’s what makes the running community all that it is.
I ran the 2022 Alderley Edge Bypass 10k in 42:02 (chip time), placing me 140th overall out of 1462 runners, and 16th out of 593 females.
Considering as Run North West tend to showcase an elite field upfront... I will happily take that result!
I know I didn’t push myself as much as I perhaps could have, which probably explains my time. I think I am a lot more aware of the risk of injury now. I know that my previous knee issue could make me susceptible to recurrent injuries, so this is always at the back of my mind and I make a conscious effort not to overdo it.
I’m certain that with time and a few weeks back on the track, my confidence will start to pick up again and I’ll be ready to chase last year’s PBs.
I can’t help but beam from my heart when I run. Eleven months on, and I still get so emotional every time my body and I work together to conquer anorexia.
As my one year anniversary of attending running events looms, it makes me feel so immensely proud to see how much my life has improved.
Getting into racing and finding a home in the running community has completely changed – and saved – my life.
I felt quite overwhelmed when I saw yesterday’s professional pictures.
I’m five pounds heavier than I was last year, and I have to admit how much healthier I look for it. But the thing that strikes me the most is how much happier I look.
This time last year, I weighed the same as I did when I was 16 years old. Even the gaining of a mere pound would have had dire consequences and sent my mental health spiralling. I was absolutely petrified of easing the control that anorexia enforced on my body.
The voice of anorexia is as much a part of me as the blood dancing through my veins, but running is my saviour. It has taught me to use that control positively, and not at my own detriment.
Running gifts me with the discipline that I desired, but in contrast to anorexia, it makes me feel good about myself.
With running by my side, I dare to dream.
I dare to hope.
I dare to achieve.
Whereas anorexia was slowly killing me from the outside in, running is breathing the life back into me.
Cara Jasmine Bradley
Run North West: https://www.runnorthwest.co.uk/
Photos by Mick Hall: https://mickhall.zenfolio.com/