On Saturday 8th January 2022, I entered my first 10k run of the year. The Tatton Park 10k holds a very special place in my little running heart, as this is where I initially achieved my dream of coming first place lady back in September, with a time of 40 minutes and 30 seconds.
The race was organised by RunThrough (runthrough.co.uk). As mentioned in previous articles, they are my all-time favourite company to run with – it doesn’t matter if you’re a PB hunter or a first-time racer, their events are for everybody to enjoy. I always find that their events are a lot more laidback and personal than others. Their staff and volunteers (especially Josh – absolute legend!) just go above and beyond to make sure everybody is having the best time. (The sight of Josh zooming along the course on his scooter giving out high-fives was the boost I needed after the 8k slump on Saturday!)
Apart from the Wilmslow Festive 10k back in November and a few ParkRuns, this was the first time I’d raced with others since my knee injury.
It felt SO good to be back!
I used to be absolutely adamant that I was a born ‘solo runner.’ I was more than happy to head off on my own multiple times a week, relishing the time to just get lost in the cathartic, rhythmic pounding of my feet.
While the serene solitude is a big part of the allure of running, I have now discovered how enjoyable it is to run with others. The support is just phenomenal.
I was SO anxious for this race. So much so, in fact, that I very nearly didn’t run. This is probably TMI so apologies in advance... 🤣 But I ran two 10ks in the week leading up to the race, and both times I had to stop at 2k no thanks to the most horrific period pains known to man and all that’s holy. I have always suffered quite badly with my cycle and all of the undesirable symptoms that accompany it, but Jesus Christ, this level of pain was something else! As I stood heaving at the roadside, clutching my bloated gut, I almost missed the discomfort of my knee injury.
I think I was feeling the pressure even more so because I was placed first female last time I ran at Tatton. I dispelled all thoughts of success from my mind – it was stupid of me to think I’d regain my form so quick after injury.
I begrudgingly told myself I’d be happy with any time under 45 minutes and any position within the top 10 females. (But let's just be honest here - as runners, we know that in order to be truly satisfied, it's a question of a PB or nothing! We're a harsh beast when it comes to our own achievements! 😆)
On the morning of the race, I scoffed several chunks of ‘gingerbread latte’ fudge for breakfast and knocked back the paracetamol.
I ran half of the virtual London marathon with a twisted knee – there’s no way I was going to allow something as trivial as period pain stop me from running; not when I’d patiently waited three months to get back on the course after my injury!
The weather was just what you’d expect from a January morning in Manchester: ferociously windy with torrential rain in tow.
Being a five-foot-nothing recovering anorexic, I am the sort of person who shivers with cold in the height of summer, so you can only imagine the struggles I face during winter. (My husband actually bought me an electric blanket and a pack of hand warmers for Christmas. I am literally an old lady in possession of a 28 year old's birth certificate.)
I padded myself out in a running vest, long sleeved t-shirt, jacket AND cagoule, which gave me the appearance of some sort of weird miniature Michelin Man. I don’t think the additional 85 layers really helped my overall time, tbh!
The moment I arrived at Tatton Park, all of my anxieties about my stomach and my knee just melted away. I saw some familiar faces and immersed myself in the unrivalled buzz of race day. I have honestly missed this SO unbelievably much!
I really enjoy the camaraderie and banter within the running community. I live for weekends when I can be a part of this ever-growing extended family of like-minded friends.
I LOVED every minute of the race. The weather made it tough and certain parts of the course were a little boggy, but I can’t even tell you how incredible it felt to be out running again.
After three months of injury and being unable to even walk without knee pain, I can’t quite describe the feeling of finally being set free and reunited with the thing I love the most.
And yes, I did have my usual little cry mid-course! 🤣🤦♀️
If you’ve read my running blogs before, you’ll know that I have the weirdest habit of genuinely bursting into happy tears every time I’m at a running event! I just get so overwhelmed with emotion and the passion I feel for running.
This time, my obligatory weep occurred while I was listening to God Is A DJ by Faithless...
Maxi Jazz: This is my church...
Me: OMG yeah, it is! Tatton Park is my church! This running course is my church!
Maxi Jazz: This is where I heal my hurts...
Me: OMG YEAH IT IS!!!! Running is how I heal my anorexia!
I ended up coming second place lady, out of 196. I came first out of 83 in my age category, and 44th out of 496 runners overall.
I was so disappointed with my time though (43 minutes, 10 seconds). This was my slowest competition time by far, and I’m still a bit baffled as to what went wrong. When you’re a runner, you just know when you’ve performed well, and I genuinely believed that I had completed the course in around 41 minutes.
I don’t think the weather conditions helped matters. The wind was unrelenting (one of my gloves actually almost blew away at the registration tent) and was against us for a big chunk of the route. Unfortunately, the wind decided that it was going to make its most prominent appearance on the uphill section of the course. Not exactly the dreamiest of combos!
At the finish line - the little grin on my face says a thousand words, despite my time 😁
“Well done, second place lady!” A lovely fellow runner called as he passed me at the exit. “I tried to keep up with you but I couldn’t!”
I tried not to be too gutted about my time, and instead focused on the fact that I had placed second female, fresh out of injury. More to the point, I reminded myself to be grateful that I was actually back to running without that haunting, warning twinge in my knee.
As has become tradition every time I run anywhere near Knutsford, I stopped off at Booths supermarket on my way home to stock up on treats for my husband and I to enjoy, post-race.
I just wanted to include another little update on my anorexia journey too. Following on from one of my most recent blogs (I Put On Weight & I'm Happy About It - https://www.carajasminebradley.com/post/i-put-on-weight-i-m-happy-about-it), I decided to just take the plunge and weigh myself. I used to obsessively weigh myself several times a day, which was just another way for my anorexia to manipulate my mind in the cruelest of ways. When I got injured back in October and was forced to take a break from running, I avoided the scales like the plague. At first, this petrified me, until the absence of its tortuous presence started to liberate me. Without the looming pressure of the scales, I was able to enjoy Christmas without too much anorexia based anxiety.
Treats from Booths, post-run... And yes, we deffo did still have our Christmas tree up on the 8th January 🤣
Last week, curiosity got the better of me and I dragged the scales out of their dusty corner.
I have gained six pounds. The strange thing is, I thought this discovery would leave me reeling with self-loathing and utter disgust, whereas it has actually made me feel somewhat empowered.
Anorexia wasted no time in reminding me that this was the worst possible outcome and proceeded to call me a string of names, stripping away great chunks of my self-worth. But deep down, I know I look better. And most importantly, I feel so much better in myself.
I gained six pounds and surprisingly, my immediate reaction wasn't to flee my house in a blind panic and run for miles, bolting away from the jagged statue of anorexia as it gained on me with its growing momentum.
Instead, I looked down at the scales, then up at the mirror. I took a deep breath and smiled.
It's early days, but I'm actually daring to hope that this is the beginning of my long journey to complete recovery... ❤
Drenched and windswept, but could not be happier! ❤
Cara Jasmine Bradley