20 May 2014

Bristol 10k: My life changing run

Guest blog by Kat Brealey.

We did it! On Sunday 11th May, my husband Ben and I ran the Bristol 10k in aid of 28 Too Many.

The day before the race, high winds came out of nowhere and as I cycled to the shops I felt my bike lift off the ground beneath me in a particularly strong gust. Seeing the winds forecast to continue into Sunday, accompanied by heavy rain, meant I was not optimistic about our prospects for a good run. While I had considered the options for how to handle a cold day or a heat wave, I had nothing up my sleeve in case of hurricane. Popping in to wish a friend happy birthday at her party on Saturday night, we caught up with some fellow runners. Virtuously sipping a blackcurrant and soda while most of them were several pints down, I wasn’t sure whether to be thankful for the advantage sobriety would give me in the morning, or concerned that they were relaxed enough to drink while I was panicking!

Sunday dawned, and my main emotion was not excitement but dread. Having completed the race during the night in a dream, I was disappointed to discover I now needed to go and run it for real. As we waited at our assembly point it was cold, wet and extremely windy, and like penguins we huddled together with other runners for warmth. Finally we were off, and it was too late to worry about anything other than running. The race passed in a blur - with more than 11,000 runners it was a busy course and we were kept on our toes weaving between people. Thankfully once we got underway the rain stopped and the sun came out - and the wind wasn’t anywhere near as disruptive as I’d feared. We’d both set targets and were thrilled to meet them - mine was to finish in under an hour and I crossed the finish line in 59.37! Ben meanwhile was well ahead of me, coming in at 43.01 despite concerns about a dodgy ankle.

As I reflect, a week later, on the whole 10k experience, I’m struck by the fact that we chose to run in aid of 28 Too Many in order to make a stand against the abuse of women’s bodies - yet ironically this motivation has had echoes closer to home too. In today’s society, women are encouraged to relate to and measure their bodies primarily in terms of how they look. We cannot escape from articles about the latest diets and adverts for cosmetic surgery, while magazines instruct us on how to dress to hide our ‘problem areas’. In the light of this, I found completing the 10k to be a hugely empowering experience. For once, I was focussed on what my body could do, rather than how it looked. For once, I was the one setting the targets - and meeting them - rather than aspiring to the unattainable goals held up by the media. Training for this race has reminded me that my body is just that – mine. I hope that the money we’ve raised along the way will mean that one day this will be the experience of all women, worldwide.

So far, thanks to the generosity of our friends and family we’ve raised over £450 for 28 Too Many. It’s not too late to give though - if you’d like to support us go to our Just Giving page.