Wednesday, 26 November 2014

5 years ago my life changed for the better!

Today is a very special day in my life, it was the day that changed my life for the good, because 5 years ago today I quit smoking. I quit for lots of reasons like the smell, the cost, the health issues and the standing outside in the cold on your own. But the main reason I quit was for my family, Dexter was about 18 months and running around all over the place and I was constantly out of breath or outside having a cig. So as a promise and a birthday present to my lovely wife I agreed to quit on her birthday, now her birthday is what happened? Well what happen the day before her birthday is probably the most contributing factor to why I managed to quit for good. I had planned my cigarettes so that I had enough to take me through to SJ's birthday but about halfway through the day Dexter, being the inquisitive little boy that he was, got hold of my cigs. He then did what later turned out be the best thing for me but at the time was devastating, to me anyway. He ripped up every last cig I had and not just a little, he totally obliterated them, on seeing the mess and panicking how I was going to manage the rest of the day, I cried a little. It was one of those life changing moments as after a minute or two I thought to myself, why am I crying about cigarettes? How pathetic was I? 

So I just STOPPED. Stopped worrying about them, stopped feeling silly and stopped smoking, just like that. Well almost the next day I booked an appointment with the nurse at the doctors and got some patches. I wore them for a week then from then on just went cold turkey and haven't had one regret since. For the first week or two it was lots of first, like first solo trip to the shops without thinking about them, first night without wanting to pop outside and other little firsts. It wasn't until about a month in that I managed to go out for a drink to the pub without worrying about temptation. All these, let's call them events were massive at the time but as soon as you manage to do one you instantly question why it was so difficult and why I had worried in the first place. Soon the months were turning into 6 months and years, and the events were less and less, and the times I even thought of a cig were down to about once a year, around this time of year. The final event came about a month ago when I realised the anniversary was coming but couldn't remember how many years it had been, I think it's safe to say I've QUIT.

For those of you that are wondering but this is a running blog what's this all about? Well this past fortnight has been my best couple of weekends runningwise since I started running 2 and a bit years ago. I've been feeling great about my running lately and 10 days ago at parkrun I smashed my PB by nearly 30 seconds then this past weekend at the Barnsley 10k I again smashed my PB by nearly 30 seconds, more on that in a bit. I can't believe how well I'm feeling at the moment and I wouldn't like to think where I would be now if I hadn't quit smoking when I did. It's been the best thing I've done healthwise and if it wasn't for my fantastic family and friends supporting me I probably would have slipped and started smoking again, so thank you everyone. I am now fitter, healthier and happier than ever and the running is just the icing on the cake. 

So this Sunday I headed over to Roysten to do the Barnsley 10k for the first time, I had heard good things about it and was in great spirits when I arrived at 9am to collect my number. Then on my way to the start line I saw a few familiar faces, some I expected to see and some I didn't, which was nice. I went for a warm up jog round the park and ended up marshalling/cheering on the junior race, which was ace as I was missing huddersfield juniors parkrun to be at Barnsley. Watching the junior race there was a familiar feel to it as there was a wide range of abilities very similar to junior parkrun, complete with parents not being able to keep up with their awesome juniors. Once that was over the seniors started to gather and the Stadium runners started to arrive running the Barnsley 10k in memory of Olive, who died a couple of months ago. This was her favourite race and even signed up this year before her illness became terminal, I have recently signed up with them but was torn whether or not to run with them for Olive, I hadn't done it before and after getting my 5k PB the week before was feeling up for it this week. So I decide that even though paying tribute to Olive was high on my mind I thought that even though I didn't know her very well I know she would want be to go out there and give it my best. So that is what I was going to do, and I lined up at the start all ready to smash it. Whilst waiting I saw another 4/5 people that I knew but didn't expect to see them running, so I said hello and then set up my Strava ready to go. It was fairly busy at the start and we were all expecting a run brief but all of a sudden there was an air horn and we were off.

It was a slow start because of the congestion but once we got out onto the open road it soon spread out. As I hadn't done this run before I didn't know what to expect so when we completed the first Km and were then confronted by a monster of a first climb I thought we were in for a tough run. Still feeling good I pushed up the hill overtaking a few people and reaching the top in no time. Then after a steady climb we started to flatten out a bit and at the next turning the course seemed to take a slight downward tilt and it meant I could catch my breath whilst picking up the pace again. About 2 and a half miles in I passed Simon E our event director at Hudds juniors, after a quick chat he told me to push on and go smash it, so I did. I pushed hard for the next 3 miles and even after about 4 small hills I was still in good spirits and was feeling great. 

With only about a mile to go I was ready to push for the finish but was taken by surprise at the last hill that seemed to come out of nowhere and it took every little bit energy I had left. Luckily it was only a few hundred metres to the finish now and I mustered up a sprint finish to cross the line in 45.33 knocking nearly 30 seconds of my PB and on a tough route too. Once I had gone and got my finishers t-shirt I went to congratulate all my friends I had seen along the way. 

Then I took up a place on the finish funnel ready to cheer the Stadium Runners across the line after their tribute run for Olive. As they appeared in the distance everyone started clapping and Olives Daughter and Grandson who were running just in front of them looked very emotional, understandably of course. They crossed the lined then the Stadium runners came into the funnel and most of them couldn't look at anyone as they were very emotional and knew that if they caught your eye that would set the tears flowing. Olive would have been very proud of all of them and it was a lovely tribute to her and her favourite race. 

So in the words of Olive 'keep going love'