There is something magical about a group of women, together, doing something side by side. Like singing in a female choir, playing netball, and running a 10k.
On the 27th January I woke up and had to run. I ran because I was angry, and I couldn’t think of anything else to do. I expected my arthritic knees to stop me, but on 9th July I ran my first ever 10k. Two laps rounds a 5k track, which meant midway high fives from my cheerers whilst I breathlessly told them I was dying. 80+ women of all shapes and sizes ran together. In teams, on their own, holding hands. They were amazing.
The ones I admired the most were…
– the 63 year old water giver-outer-er who I stood with near to the home stretch. She raced last years event and subsequently had a heart attack, preventing her from wanting to risk the race this year.
– my boyfriend’s 11year-old daughter who stood near the finish line and insisted on cheering everyone on by name (our name’s were printed with our race numbers). Even after we had stood there 30mins after I’d finish the race she made sure that every single Claire and Karen got a cheer. Apparently they were the most common names so if she couldn’t read the names quickly enough she just shouted those.
– the lady who I ended up pacing with for a chunk of the race, without speaking, who then encouraged me to continue with her when I stopped for a little walk (gasping for air in the baking heat and finally deciding that my superpower would teleportation). Who then shared her running story with me.
– the lady who I ended up walking next to at the start of the last km who put an end to my little rest with “come on, let’s shuffle”
– my sister Kim, who also ran her first 10k and helped me with pre-race psychological training: unleashing my chimp.
If you’ve come across the Chimp Paradox by Steve Peters you’ll know about your own internal Chimp. The part of your brain that overrides your behaviours when significant emotions are triggered, resulting in a reaction, rather than a response. The bit we wish we could turned off when it’s unruley or irrational. I realised I’d been struggling a lot with my Chimp recently after speaking to Kim.
Kim’s Chimp is called Cheryl (from Neighbours, loud, obnoxious, big hair, bright blouse). Apparently, she just asked what her name was one day and that was the response. They have regular dialogue when Cheryl is misbehaving. Kim listens to Cheryl. Self-accepting. Patient. Kind.
My Chimp is called Frannie. She is a highly strung princess with the potential to be awful. She is angry at you, at the world, at everything. And so we decided that seeing as she was so keen to be around I’d let her take my race. When I got tired, I’d fuel up Frannie and run the sh*t out of her. She’d been a horse kicking at the stable door and I decided I’d let her run.
Only, it turns out that you can’t run angry. That the more I thought about and provoked Frannie the more I loved her, and the more I smiled until I was running along with a huge smile on my face not caring how daft/red/goofy I looked.
None-else cared either. I even managed to day-dream about holidays.
– Frannie. My beautiful chimp.