Up Pomphrey!

I have been running for a while now and pretty much just stick some tunes on and plod on all by my lonesome.  Though every Sunday I do a 2k Junior Parkrun with our youngest … apart from that I stick to running by myself …. until now !

In my wisdom I thought I would give our local proper grown up Parkrun a go – “Pomphrey Hill” – I spent some time reading up about it, where it was and the course terrain.  I wasn’t familiar with the park but the blurb said “mostly flat” with “a small hill called Up Pomphrey!” (The exclamation mark at the end of Up Pomphrey! confused me somewhat ) It was 3 laps finishing on a downhill. Sounded perfect ! I’m not too good at uphill, I don’t mind the flat and definitely live for the downhill, so the run sounded ideal.

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Saturday came and off I went.  The venue was easy to find, though I worried slightly as I saw some eager participants running to the run (yes it seems people do that!) and I had a fleeting thought that I would be the only reluctant runner amongst a sea of super fit experts and suddenly regretted going on my own … so I Facebooked a post about being alone at the Parkrun and was fortified by a response from Kath Evans who posted a pic of herself at her local Parkrun.  Feeling empowered by support I headed to where people were gathering.

As we were all herded to the start line I suddenly remembered my headphones … which were on the hall table at home! I hardly ever run without the aid of some cheesy feel good music and waves of panic washed over me again.  I mentally gave myself a stern talking to and got on with joining the pack ready for the start. I headed for the middle of the pack, thinking I didn’t want to be at the front with all the serious folk but also I needed a bit of a head start being the slow runner I am.

mobile-605422_1920The course organisers then proceeded to give us all a talk on the course, stating pretty much what it said on the blurb on the website.  I was a little perplexed when the course organiser got to the “small hill” part and said “Up Pomphrey!” And the whole pack shouted “UP POMPHREY!” But I put it down to being just a local thing and started limbering up for the off.

I started at a slow pace but was happy to see an older lady in front of me and thought perhaps I will just go at the same pace as her.  There was a little incline to start with and I thought that maybe this was “Up Pomphrey!” and was quite pleased with myself for jogging up.  We then headed downhill and I was pretty much keeping pace with everyone, I was missing Bananarama and Joe McEldrey via my earphones but hey … I was doing it… I was running!

Then we turned a corner and I can only describe what was in front of me as a small mountain! I now fully understood the exclamation mark and the “UP POMPHREY!” Oh my dear lord .. how on earth was I going to get up there? And not just once but three, yes three, times.

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Well I made it halfway up the first time and I then slowed to a walk before medical assistance would need to be called for.  The second time I did about 50 yards before my legs turned to jelly, by this point people were starting to lap me! Yes those serious runners at the front were lapping us mere mortals desperately trying to cling to some sort of dignity.  At this point I seriously missed my headphones to the extent that I think I started humming Gloria Gaynors “I will survive” I also seriously questioned my wisdom … what on earth was I doing? This was no way to spend a Saturday morning. By lap three and “Up Pomphey!” three I had lost the older lady, she had run off ahead, I was lapped by a man pushing an infant in a pram, was lapped by two dogs, a small child and Batman …. but I kept going.  I kept putting one foot in front of the other.

I eventually reached the top for the final time and headed downhill to the finish.  As I ran the last 200 yards the volunteers at the finish line were cheering me on, telling me to run all the way …. I did it!

I came a whopping 317th !! I collected my little ticket and headed over to be scanned.  As I did I noticed that there were lots still behind me, I checked my time and I had ran the 5k in 34.11 which isn’t too bad for me. According to the email I received later in the day I came 15th in my age group, which I think sounds quite impressive.

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As I headed to the car I felt exhausted, thirsty and bloomin hot.  I downed a bottle of water and headed home with the aircon on full and feeling quite elated. As I walked through the door my husband said “how was it?” I replied “It was awful, I hate running” to which he asked “so are you going again?” ……. “Yes” I said ;D

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A reluctant runner!

Did you know I took up running ?? I say this with a smile on my face as I really don’t shut up about it, I have turned into one of those insufferable people who post running times, maps and Fitbit stats on Twitter .. in fact not just Twitter I post them on Facebook too .. nowhere is safe! But I am not sorry, not in the least!

Almost 2 years ago now we ran WeActiveChallenge for the first time.  Encouraging health care professionals to get active and share their activity for 2 weeks in August.  WeActiveChallenge is the brainchild of those fab WeAHPs – namely Naomi McVey (@NaomiMcVey) and Jo Fillingham (@jkfillingham) - an inspiring duo, who I can’t thank and praise enough for getting me moving! My activity levels increased slightly, from nothing to some walking.  We then got a dog (prime excuse to share a picture of Muppet the dog) and my activity levels increased a bit more … still walking but a bit more often.

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A year ago we repeated WeActiveChallenge and the tweets started to have an affect on me …. They made me think.

Both my mum and my brother have had heart bypass surgery, my grandmother died of a stroke and my grandfather died of a heart attack.  In addition to this I was starting to feel “not right” I had periods of anxiety and days when I found it hard to keep going, I felt tearful and generally stressed, I also had physical symptoms – heavier periods, headaches, fatigue and restless legs! I knew my mum had gone through the menopause early so I was genuinely concerned that this was me for the rest of my life!! I went to the doctor and had the blood test and everything came back normal … the doc said I could possibly be pre menopausal .. this did make me laugh, (which was a big relief from the crying) as don’t we spend all our lives being pre menopausal ? I started reading about what would help and taking care of yourself with a good diet and exercise was top of every list.  Whilst this was all going on #WeActiveChallenge was quietly infiltrating my social media streams and my thoughts…. So in late August (the week after WeActiveChallenge finished) I downloaded the Couch to 5k app (free!) and bought some running shoes.

The first thing I learnt was that I hate running! Running makes me feel like my chest is about to explode and I need Ventolin … stat !!! The next thing I learnt was that I needed support in order to keep going … so I tweeted and facebooked about what I was doing, and I was amazed at how many of my friends had done the same.  There was lots of support out there.  It’s been hard and I still dislike running, I still feel like I need an inhaler of some description … I am a reluctant runner and some days I really don’t want to go out.  The app helped in the early days as I wanted to get my ticks for each day. Tweeting my app stars and ticks helped too as the tweets I got back were so positive and encouraging.  The app is a 9 week programme and I kept going to the end … and then I felt a little lost! What now? So I started using my Fitbit, starting tweeting and facebooking maps and stats and personal bests – the encouragement and support was awesome.  My currently goal is to do at least 30 mins of exercise a day and get my green heptagon Fitbit shape at the end of each week.

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So how do I feel … pretty amazing actually ! I am sleeping better, I have dropped two dress sizes, I no longer feel “pre menopausal” and I am definitely less stressed.  I don’t love running but I love the feeling it gives me and I love the social media community that it has given me.

I am really looking forward to #WeActiveChallenge this year, infact I can’t wait to have an excuse to tweet pics. It’s taken time for me to change my behaviour but the positive role models that I was exposed too played a huge part in that change and the support that people gave me (and continue to give me) through Twitter and Facebook has had a huge impact.  Social media certainly affected my behaviour and infact I would say it played an instrumental part.

What is nice now is that I am seeing friends now starting the Couch to 5k and I am trying my hardest to support them as I was supported. My daughter, who is 10, now runs at least once a week and we cycle to and from school. I am going to keep boring people with my running tweets and Facebook posts and I am going to continue to be totally unrepentant.  Social media has changed me, it’s helped make me fitter and healthier, it’s helped me to change my lifestyle. I firmly believe that social media is a brilliant tool for public health and changing our habits and adopting healthy alternatives.  Social media exposes us to and connects us with people and ideas we may not normally encounter, it broadens our horizons and gets us to see that there is a better way … it’s pretty fabulous stuff :D