Six months ago I couldn't run a kilometer, three months ago I struggled to run five, yesterday I ran 10.
Words hardly describe the exhilaration I felt as I ran that last kilometer, knowing I could do it, seeing my kids standing on the sidelines waving and cheering and crossing the finishing line with 25 000 other women. It was one of my really proud moments in life. I ran 10 kilometers!
Goals are important to me, and I need to feel the pressure to keep my motivation up so when my friend Rebecca challenged us back in March or April I was fast to take up the challenge - the 5km Vår Ruset in May. While I really enjoyed it I found it a struggle, I wasn't used to running the full 5km so I found it hard going.
Even before the run we started talking about Midnattsloppet and Tjejmilen and I signed up for both - I needed something that would force me to keep running over the summer and something that would force me to go further. It worked. I spent many a morning running along the waterfront when we were at the cottage in Canada.
I was really looking forward to Midnattsloppet, although I was nervous about it too. A couple of days beforehand I found out my friend was not running and I would be going in alone at night, running and coming home alone. The idea of having no friends to run with, no-one to cheer me along and no-one to meet up with afterwards took all the fun out of it and I decided that afternoon not to run. As hard as the decision was the deflation was relieved by the sound of pitter, patter on the windowsill that night. Running in the rain and in the dark would have taken any remaining joy out of it.
The time finally came around for Tjejmilen, a 10km women's run around the beautiful Djurgården. I was looking forward to it and even if I wasn't as fit as I was a couple of weeks ago I knew I could do it.
What started off as a cold, overcast and windy day turned into a beautiful afternoon with the sun shining and a perfect 16 C. Five of us met up a couple of hours beforehand and all travelled to Gärdet to where the run would start.We hung out together, did our warm-up together and then all ran our own race, or walked as was the case for Anastasia (and Molly) who was suffering from slipped disks. The nice thing about this run is that you could do it with a stroller or walking poles which opened up the even to thousands of women.Not everybody loves to be in a crowd. You spend a fair amount of time zig-zagging your way through if you are not in the right category and there is always a chance you will trip over someone else's feet. You might even get stressed running with so many people around you. But I love it. I find it so interesting. Not only did I have beautiful scenery to look out but watching all those around me kept me so distracted I hardly noticed the kilometers passing by. The sport drink and energy tablets helped along the way too, as did my music, the bands, the DJ's, the cheer squad and all the people who turned up to cheer us along! It really makes the event a whole lot of fun!
I'm the slow coach in our team, but only by about 10 minutes so I'm ok with that. Even Anastasia was faster than me and she was walking with her daughter! But these girls really inspire me to run and to keep running, even when I don't feel like it. And nothing gives me a better workout nor makes me feel really good like a run does. Just writing about this is enough to make me want to put my running shoes on, even if my legs are a little tired today.
So what's next? Lidingöloppet for women (10km) perhaps? Or Hässelbyloppet maybe? Now that I have started I don't want to stop, I just need to keep finding the carrots that will be my incentive. I like being fit, being able to run for a bus and not thinking anything of it, being able to run about in the park with my kids without heaving. I love the feeling of saying "I did it", especially to the man that scoffed when I bought running shoes a year ago. I love the feeling of a good workout, I want to be a good role model for my kids and I don't want to go back to where I was just six months ago.
Meeting the challenge is exhilarating!