How it all started!By Mandy Norris.
I guess you could say that I first fell in love with running around 7 years ago now. At that time, if you’d have told me that I would be getting up at 4am to run 30 mile in the rain for fun I would have thought you were crazy. This was me -Mandy -40 something and someone who rarely exercised. A walk for me was from the settee to the fridge.
It has always been my dream to go to Marrakech -such a mystical exotic country -somewhere I longed to visit. 7 years ago, we finally went -myself, my husband Tony and my 2 daughters -Kara would have been about 22 and Rosie about 14. First thing that hit me about this country was the heat. That week temperatures soared at 50 degrees -never known heat like it. As a size 20-woman -18 stone -I kept my body covered with long dresses and t shirts that covered my chubby arms. I longed to wear little shorts and vests but I was far too self-conscious. Every few minutes I had to keep sitting down in the shade -it was unbearable. The final straw that week was when we all took a trip to the Atlas Mountains. As soon as I got of the tour bus, I knew I wasn’t going to be able to continue. The bus could only go so far -you had to walk the rest of the way -climbing up steep ridges, being pulled up by the guides. I didn’t even attempt it. I sat in the shade under a tree whilst my family continued without me. I told them not to worry about me -id be fine -who wanted to climb a mountain anyway I joked? Truth was -me -I did. I longed to be there with them. I felt I had ruined that holiday. I moaned so much I annoyed myself.
Returning back to England, I initially joined a slimming group. I vowed I would return to Marrakech soon and would be able to where whatever I wanted. I lost a stone fairly easy but I knew to lose it faster I should really start to do some exercise. My husband Tony liked to run -nothing serious- only for enjoyment around the local area, and he persuaded me to try it myself. I remember I got myself new trainers and clothes and fearfully ventured out about 6am so no one would see me. It was horrendous. I knew I would struggle but oh boy -! -not to that extent! I was bright red and sweating -what a state -and that was only to the end of the street! I told myself to keep at it though and keep at it I did. I would walk to a lamppost -run to the next tree -walk to the end of the road -then run to the next tree -on and on each day, I repeated this. I soon found that I was actually starting to enjoy this running malarkey! The first time I ran around the block non-stop was such a huge victory for me! That was in the January and that September I ran the Great North 5k. Tony ran it with me and he insisted I ran the whole way. It took me around 40 minutes but it didn’t matter -I had just ran a whole 5 k and had a real medal to show for it! I told Tony I would return nest year but I would complete the actual Great North Run -a half marathon. Sounded crazy at the time -I mean -13.1 mile?! But run it I did -and not only did I finish the race -I was 8 stone lighter! Thanks to running -I had shrunk to a size 10 and had never felt better. I stopped the slimming group after only 2 months as I did not need it -I found I was eating more sensibly, and running was the only boost I needed.
More from Mandy next week, as she tells us how her running has progressed….