I have something to tell you. Something that I never thought I'd be telling anyone ever. Ok, here goes - I'm running a race! Me, josiekitten, lifelong couch potato and exercise-phobe! As many of you will know, Mr JK was passionate about running. He absolutely loved the buzz it gave him and was constantly challenging himself to new things. I was a bit of a disappointment on that front. Whilst I was very happy to go along to races to support him (unless camping was involved!), the thought of running anything other than a bath was quite frankly hideous! Yes, for a few seconds as the runners were crossing the finish line, the thought went through my head 'that must feel amazing', but just as quickly, it went again. Mr JK really hoped that I'd share his running love and I'd got as far as downloading the Couch to 5K podcast before he died, but I didn't even own a pair of trainers!
Soon after he died, the crazy idea of running a race in his memory starting bubbling away inside me so I made a start on week 1 of the programme. After my first efforts, I bought some proper running shoes and a sports bra! But my running didn't last long as I experienced problems with my knee. X-rays showed that I have quite bad arthritis in my left knee, so I worked hard at the gym doing lots of exercises to strengthen it and stabilise the joint. I finally went for my first run outside in April this year. Of course I didn't want anyone to know about my running, or even going to the gym. It was a precious secret, something that I was sharing only with Mr JK. I drove to local parkland where I could run incognito. I still find it hard to make myself go out and run where I live - it's silly I know but I worry about what people will think! But I have had some wonderful early morning runs and seen lots of wildlife - owls, rabbits and deer to name a few. Have a look at some of the photos I took when I stopped to catch my breath!
I never thought that I'd be buying a running magazine, wearing breathable technical clothes (as well as Mr JK's running tights which I'm sure is giving him a great laugh!) or worrying about starting and stopping my Garmin watch to record running data accurately! It's so not me! As one of my friends said to me on WhatsApp this week, 'OMG, who is this person and what have you done with Helen?!'
One day I retweeted something on Twitter, and was astonished a few days later to discover that I'd won entry for two into any Great Run event. I talked it over with Charlie, who I've been working with at the gym, and together we decided that the Great North Run would be a challenge! That's a half marathon - actually the world's biggest half marathon - if you didn't know! It's two weeks today and I can't quite believe that I'm going to be doing it. I'm not fast because I do a mix of running and walking to protect my knee, but I am determined to cross the finish line. I've run the distance in training so I feel reasonably confident that it's all going to be good on race day. Running has helped me to feel closer to Mr JK and has got me through some pretty dark days. I'm sure that he's going to be running alongside me and feeling proud of me too. I'm raising money for the British Heart Foundation and if you would like to donate to support me, I'd be so grateful. There is a link to my Just Giving page in the sidebar of the blog and you can also get to the page by clicking here. Thank you, thank you, thank you. I'll keep you posted on how it all goes, I promise you. xxx