For most people, spending a rainy Sunday morning on a bypass surrounded by over 1,000 people would be a fairly unappealing scenario...
I, however, wouldn’t have chosen to be anywhere else!
The Alderley Edge Bypass 10k on Sunday 22nd August 2021 (organised by Run North West - https://www.runnorthwest.co.uk) was another fantastic event to bless my running calendar.
With Covid rules now lifted, it was great to be able to enjoy a running event without restrictions. There was no starting in waves, no limits on spectators, and no ushering runners along at the finish line when all we want to do is compare notes with our fellow competitors and scoff the complimentary protein bars.
There was live music on today’s course, which was absolutely brilliant and really helped to raise spirits when the inevitable ‘OMG how have I ONLY run 4km?!’ mindset kicked in.
Whoever said running isn’t fun needs to come to the Alderley Bypass 10k next year! I was ready for a night out after bopping to I Get Knocked Down (But I Get Up Again) by Tubthumping as I passed under the bridge at the 8km mark!
I arrived early and spent 45 minutes sheltering under a tree, cursing my poor decision to wear not only mascara, but also a ‘sassy’ vest top and shorts combo.
The words of every single British person I encountered over the past seven days echoed inside my head: “There’s supposed to be another heat wave next week!”
Squinting out of my mascara stained eyes at the bouncing rain, I fantasised about Uber-ing it home and spending the day under a duvet watching Harry Potter and eating Heroes.
Luckily though, I am a ‘rain runner.’ It’s my favourite weather to run in, and for some unbeknown reason, I always seem to get my personal bests if I’ve had to battle through a torrential downpour en-route. There’s just something really liberating about splashing through puddles without a care in the world, feeling the icy droplets cascade across your skin. The sensation dances with every one of my senses.
(Side note: Running on the beach in the rain is another level of pure freedom. I genuinely believe that’s how I’ll make my way up to heaven when I die – whipping across sand, the rain in my face and the roaring sea by my side, Hoppipolla by Sigur Ros playing on a giant boom box somewhere overhead...) 😂
The rain certainly must have been on my side this morning, because I got another personal best! I am absolutely BUZZING, as this is now my third personal best on the trot! I finished the Alderley Edge Bypass 10k with a time of 40 minutes and 24 seconds. Prior to June, I’d never managed to break 48 minutes for a 10k, and even then I'd end up having a good cry and several Mars Bars while lying in a Radox bath for hours on end, cradling my shins. (Bizarrely, I can run half marathons no problem at all, but 10ks on their own just don't agree with me for some reason!)
Now, I’ve had 41 minutes and 51 seconds (Colshaw Hall), 41 minutes and 13 seconds (Sandbach Striders), and now 40 minutes and 24 seconds! If somebody had told me a few months ago that I’d be running 10k in sub 48 minutes, I would have laughed, but now I’m determined to break 40 minutes!
I really do believe that it’s the uplifting atmosphere at running events that has carried me to the finish line with times I wouldn’t have even dreamed of a few months back.
Every time I achieve, I update my personal scorecard: Me 1, Anorexia 0.
In the running community, I feel safe, because I know that I’m not fighting on my own – I have my army by my side. Strangers, but connected by the beautifully intricate web that makes up our own individual stories and motivations, all leading us back to this remarkable hobby: running. Runners just have this silent understanding – we just get it. We see past the desolate 6am winter morning starts, the strict weekend regimes and the all-weather dedication. We know it’s so much more than that. Running isn’t just exercise, or a way to get fit. Running is discipline, an escape from the cage of our heads, a welcome routine when the outside world is somersaulting, a quick-fix to an overwhelming sense of achievement when we just need that little boost, and overall, running is sanity.
Tearing down that bypass this morning, I was engulfed by that extraordinary feeling of freedom yet again. Somewhere between the grey sky and the glistening tarmac was my life, and it was suddenly for the taking as the gates of my inner elation flooded open.
The pride, inner strength and bubbling happiness lifted my feet clean off the tarmac. That feeling... It literally takes my breath away.
Running is saving my life, one goddam day at a time.
Every time I tie up my laces, an ember of hope is ignited somewhere deep inside me; somewhere the blood-stained fingers of The Voice of anorexia can’t seek it out. The ember is lit by power. The Voice turned me against running for so long, using my passion as another form of torture in its mission to break my spine into submission to conform to its deadly desires.
Running and I rekindled our love despite The Voice standing between us bearing its sword of barbed-wire and fire. We joined forces, our combined power soaring high above the head of The Voice, leaving it temporarily stunned, growing weaker every day.
When The Voice kicks me to the ground, running pulls me back up again.
When The Voice puffs its chest and screams NO, my pride stands stall and shrieks YES.
When The Voice pursues me with its teeth bared, my legs run that little bit faster. Faster and faster, until I take off.
When The Voice tells me I can’t, my feet remind me that I CAN.
I can, I will, and I am.
^ Don't judge the bumbag... It houses my 'emergancy' Twirls and jelly beans 😎
Cara Jasmine Bradley
Run North West - https://www.runnorthwest.co.uk
Photo Credits: Mick Hall -