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💥🏃🏻‍♀️Sandbach Striders 10k: 1st August 2021 💥🏃🏻‍♀️

What a day!

I’ve been sporting a permanent beam since striding through that finish line yesterday morning! A new personal best at 41 minutes 13 seconds and placed 4th female out of 70!

The Sandbach 10k, organised by the wonderful Sandbach Striders running club and held at the lovely Sandbach Rugby Club, was a fantastic event. Everything about it just made for a thoroughly enjoyable morning, from the atmosphere to the picturesque course streaking through the Cheshire countryside.

I’m fast learning that it doesn’t matter if you attend running events alone – you can guarantee that you will emerge with a new group of like-minded friends.

I love the lingo, the banter, the support.

There really is no empire like the running community.

This time, I wasn’t actually alone, as I’d dragged my husband along. Of course, he was delighted to be spending his Sunday morning in the rain, draped in my discarded handbag and hoodie with strict instructions not to even think about touching my post-race Snickers!

I was on my own for much of the race. There were large gaps between runners as everybody settled into a comfortable pace from the offset.

I felt my own pace was a lot more consistent this time around, as oppose to the Colshaw Hall 10k, whereby I’d struggled through the first 5k, paced myself between 5 and 7k, and then went into overdrive for the last 3k, securing my personal best but almost passing out at the finish line. This time, I found my ‘happy pace’ within the first kilometre, and hardly moved from it the entire way around the course.

I was just in my own little world, pelting along, lost in the contentment of the rhythmic movement of my legs and the music between my headphones. I can’t quite describe it, but I felt totally at peace yesterday; so deliriously happy.

It was cloudy with a breeze and the odd spatter of rain – the perfect running weather!

Every now and again, I’d be snapped out of my daydream by a team of fab stewards cheering encouragingly and ringing bells as I ticked off the kilometres.

There was one point in yesterday’s race where I simply exhaled and raised my head to the sky, a smile spreading across my face. Nothing else mattered apart from my two feet puncturing the pavement with every step. I wished I could freeze time and forever be engulfed in that euphoric sensation. Running really is my wings.

I seem to be having a lot of epiphanies recently, which usually come to me mid-run. I know it sounds proper cheesy, but sometimes when I’m running, I feel a sudden stab of gratitude and I actually get emotional! But I am so bloody grateful to be alive, and to be experiencing these moments.

Anorexia can take you one of two ways, and for a long time, I couldn’t ever imagine myself looking it in the eye and reclaiming my life. And now here I am, laughing in anorexia’s face as I run shrouded in sheer elation, loving every single second.

Some of the most liberating moments of my life are gifted to me through the beauty of running. I’ve galloped across beaches on horses, had books published, leapt off boats in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea... But nothing quite compares to the sheer gratitude I feel when I run on my own two legs. I know I say this in pretty much every running article I post, but I am truly just in utter awe of my body.

Taking running back up after my first battle with anorexia was the best decision I ever made. This time around, although the war in my head is far from over, I have learned so much about my body, and I have never cherished it more than I do right now.

For once, the number on the scales doesn’t dictate how I view my body, or how I treat it on a daily basis. Instead, my friendship with my body has blossomed from great achievements, personal bests, and moments shared together – mind and body – through the aid of running.

My husband appeared at the side of the course near the 8k marker, which gave me such a boost. His new nickname for me is ‘Road Runner’ and he shouted, “MEEP MEEP!” as I careered past.

We’d planned to make homemade pizzas after the run, and we had an apple crumble on reserve at a nearby farm shop, and the thought of this made me push through the last 2km.

^ That smile says it all! 😁 the 8k action shot my husband took! MEEP MEEP!

For me, the killer was actually the last kilometre. This is usually one of my best, as I know I’m almost home and dry and can really give it my all one last time. However, I soon realised that the last stretch of the Sandbach 10k was across grass. To make matters worse, the grass was also wet. Rain water seeped through my trainers, which in terms of running deterrents has got to be up there with calf cramp and shin splints.

I am not a grass runner. I’m disproportioned and bandy enough at the best of times, what with my 5-foot-nothing frame, sparrow’s legs and freakishly large feet – I certainly don’t need bumpy and uneven surfaces to further remind me of my poor balance and heavy-footedness!

That last kilometre really did test me. The rugby pitch we were racing round didn’t seem to be taking me any closer to the finish line.

But I got there in the end, as the timer hit 41 minutes and 13 seconds.

I was surprised by my personal best, because I hadn’t overdone it or pushed myself too much, and I’d ran a very hilly 16.5k the day before so my knees were a little tender.

(The overall winner was a lady called Katie Holt, who finished with a bloody incredible time of 33 minutes!! Say whaaaaaat?! WHO RUN THE WORLD? GIRLS! 🏃🏻‍♀️)

“Number 125, Cara Bradley - great time!”

There is no better feeling than crossing the finish line after a run, knowing that you gave it your absolute all. The sense of pride is overwhelming and radiates out of every pore. Runner’s high is an actual thing, and it really is addictive.

^ Nearing the finish line... The look on my face speaks volume... I HATE running on grass 😂 Think I actually said, "You've GOT to be kidding me!!!!" out loud as soon as I saw it 🤣

PS: The post-run homemade pizza and apple crumble combo was divine! (Ignore my poor attempt at homemade dough balls...)

Cara Jasmine Bradley


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