On Sunday 31st July 2022, I took part in the Colshaw Hall 10k, organised by Run Cheshire.
This event means a lot to me, because it was the first race I ever entered, back in June 2021. It was a day that truly changed and indeed saved my life.
I often blog about that day – the sheer fate of it still staggers me. I honestly do not know where I’d be right now had it not been for that day – the day I discovered the world of running events and all of the pride, friendship and support that comes with it in bountiful handfuls. That day alone administered an element of medicine that meant the scold of my anorexia would never quite be the same again.
I still remember every single detail of that life-altering morning in June 2021.
I get goosebumps whenever I recall walking up to the starting line as Dog Days Are Over by Florence & The Machine played over the speakers. In that moment, as I unknowingly stood on the cusp of a new-found freedom from my anorexia, the lyrics resonated with me so much...
Happiness hit her like a train on a track...
It felt surreal to be back at the Colshaw Hall 10k thirteen months on. Since that first dabble with racing, I have achieved and experienced things I never, ever imagined possible, both in and out of my running shoes.
I went from seven years of enforced running in depressive solitude and hating every second, to placing first female at two different events, competing in Lisbon and Malta, taking minutes off my PBs in every distance, publishing a book, and meeting some incredible people along the way.
The voice of anorexia has been duly hushed by a new sensation - a sensation I hadn’t ever really allowed myself to feel prior to partaking in running events: pride.
As I always state in my blogs, I will probably always have anorexia, but my fight is a hell of a lot easier now that I have running on my side. Some days are still hard and it’s a fight not to slip back into my old ways sometimes, but the high I get from attending running events is proving to be an unbelievable saviour. I truly feel like a different person when I run nowadays. My mind bursts with hope and perspective, rather than sorrow and pressure.
So as you can imagine, it was quite an emotive experience coming back to Colshaw. ❤️
It was every bit as amazing as last year. The organisation of the event was second to none and everything had clearly been very carefully planned. As soon as I arrived, I was immersed in the friendly atmosphere, which instantly felt like coming home. I love it when I attend races like that - where you genuinely feel like part of a big family. The Colshaw Hall 10k, Marple Trail 10k and Sandbach Striders 10k are my favourite events for this very reason.
And speaking of coming home… that course!! 😍
If we just gloss over the infamous hill with its banterous signs, I have to say this course is one of my all time favourites. The countryside just feels like heaven - a million miles away from the world itself. I was reminded yet again just why I fell under its spell last year.
The Colshaw Hall 10k course really is my little slice of paradise. It’s my happiest place in the world and I’m still in awe of the magic that found me between those eternal fields last year.
As I ran along, I reflected upon the past 13 months, and how much has changed since my feet last danced over those lanes. Last June, I had no idea just how much that day alone was going to change everything.
Entering the 2021 Colshaw Hall 10k was the best decision of my entire life. ❤️
I was left feeling a bit gutted with my time this year.
I placed 7th female out of 220 and 4th in my age category out of 39, which I was really pleased about, however my time was 42:19.
I honestly did think that I had run at least a sub 42 minute 10k. I cannot believe that all I managed to do was knock ONE SECOND off my Wilmslow Summer 10k time; a course that I had struggled round in blistering heat.
The weather on Sunday was perfect for me; I always tend to run a little faster in the rain, and it luckily wasn’t as muggy as it has been of late. I’d had my obligatory pre-race snack of mini Twirls and I ran to all of my fave, adrenaline-pumping tunes... So why did I still finish with a time of 42:19? It doesn’t make any sense! My PB of 40:24 – achieved only last August – feels like a rapidly declining dream. It would be nice to run a 10k in the 41 minute range again some day!
I can only put it down to the dreaded ‘Overtraining Syndrome.’
Let’s be honest – we all know I tend to overdo things – a habit that is not helped by my anorexia. My relationship with exercise – although a million times more positive now than it ever has been – does run the risk of bordering on somewhat obsessive if I don’t carefully monitor it.
In the week leading up to the Colshaw Hall 10k, I dropped my mileage right down. Or rather, I dropped my running mileage right down. Despite only running 11k on Monday and 5k at Parkrun on Saturday, I still somehow managed to do an 80k week overall.
I’m a very active person by nature and I’m always zipping here, there and everywhere on foot. I’ve always been the same, and think absolutely nothing of walking 11k home from work, or 5k back from the supermarket carrying heavy bags.
I have a lot of nervous energy that needs channelling!
Perhaps I need to focus more on allowing my body to recharge in-between runs, rather than blindly ticking off the miles with no clear objective.
The fact that I practically skipped over the finish line, beaming from ear to ear, humming along to Fat Boy Slim, suggests that I probably didn’t work as hard as I could have… 🤣
I remember last years event, whereby I stormed through the last kilometre and was subsequently very nearly sick at the finish arch.
So maybe I could have pushed myself a bit more…
My beautiful new medal! My 'PB board' in the background is actually decorated with the lyrics to Dog Days Are Over - the song that was playing as I lined up to start my first ever running event at Colshaw last year!
I know a 42 minute 10k is still a respectable time... However, I can’t help but feel a bit disheartened. The annoying thing is, while I’m actually out there on the course, I don’t actually feel like I am going any slower than, say, last year’s average pace. But I clearly am, because I’m adding two minutes to the times I became accustomed to just 12 months ago.
The voice of anorexia could so easily feed off these flaws and insecurities, but I won’t allow that.
And that’s because, despite the disappointment with my time (again), I had the most uplifting morning at the Colshaw Hall 10k.
And really, isn’t that what it’s all about? All runners will speak of the self-imposed importance of satisfying that little voice within when it comes to those meaningless numbers on the Garmin timer, but really... PBs and pressures aside, isn’t it wonderful just to run and to feel so in love with this sport? To be surrounded by a tribe of new-found, like-minded friends who you know will always be there - in this fantastic extended community of runners - to build you up?
I absolutely ADORE the Colshaw Hall 10k; it will always, always, always mean SO much to me.
A few weeks ago, I had an article published in Like The Wind magazine. Like The Wind focuses on the individual motives of different runners, and my story detailed how running saved me from anorexia. I was lucky enough to have my work illustrated by the insanely talented Steve Bushell (insta: @sketchybushell). I was overwhelmed when I first saw his images embellishing my words, and I was even more overwhelmed when Steve contacted me to offer the original artwork as a gift. Steve extremely kindly had the print framed and posted out to me, and I opened it up after I got home from the Colshaw Hall 10k. I’m not ashamed to say that I cried upon seeing the picture in all of its larger scale glory. It so beautifully captures my journey, with the shadowed figure representing my life while plagued with the worst of my anorexia, and the coloured image portrays the change.
What a day to receive this extra special delivery - a year on from that momentous morning that saved my life. ❤️
My incredible artwork by Steve Bushell 😍
Cara Jasmine Bradley
Run Cheshire: https://www.runcheshire.com
Professional Photo Credits -
Mick Hall: https://www.mickhall-photos.com
Bryan Dale: http://www.racephotos.org.uk