It's been a long twelve months, with some massive highs and some massive lows (read breakdowns aplenty on the Isle of Wight) but I can honestly say this past 12 months has been some of the most rewarding of my life. Not only have friends and family helped me smash my fundraising target for the Alzheimers Society, but I've taken on some things I never thought I would be able to do and have learnt so much about myself. Upsettingly, I think my career as an Olympic distance runner is doomed as I'm still struggling through races towards the back of the pack, but running has created alot of joy and happiness over the last year and is something I'm really glad I started. It seemed apt, therefore, to finish this Challenge Twelve with a last 5km with some giant inflatable obstacles added in along the way to make it even more fun. The best thing also happened at this event for two reasons.
One of my good friends messaged me and said she wanted to do it with me. Firstly, I'd spent 12 months attempting to convince people to undertake a challenge with me and despite some initial interest, their entry forms never materilised and I found myself on the startlines alone with a list of excuses as to why they couldn't take part. Finally I was going to turn up to an event and have someone to talk to! Secondly, above friend was not a runner. Infact she was in a similar place to me twelve months previously and had never entered a running event. Twelve months ago, I pulled on my new running trainers and left my front door to go for a run, entered my first 5k and finished the year with a half marathon and three ultra marathons under my belt. Just by doing that I had inspired someone else to jump into their unknown, leave their comfort zone and take up running to get fitter and stronger. Pretty cool :)
The only way I can describe the Inflateable 5k is a family friendly tough mudder, without the mud and 100% certaincy that you will complete all obstacles. Every 500m there was a giant bouncy castle style inflateable with walls to climb, slides to slide down and a number of other obstacles to master. Most of the inflateables had multiple channels meaning you could race your friends through the inflateable obstacle adding a competitive edge to the fun and it finished with a trust jump onto a giant inflateable mattress that really tested my dislike of heights! It was such a good event to finish with, filled with laughter,rain, puddles, wet bums and I was rather dissapointed when I got to the end which is a first in the history of my 5ks!
I'm yet to decide if I'm elated or devastaed that this challenge is over. What I am sure of though is that this is just the beginning to a happier, fitter and more fulfilling life :) Big thanks to everyone who has sponsored me, supported me, provided words of encouragement and bought a smile to my face over the last twelve months. In the words of Summer Sanders:
''It's not about winning and losing; it's about every day hard work and about thriving on a challenge. It's about embracing the pain that you'll experience at the end of a race and not being afraid'.