Running is an important part of my life. It helps hold me together as a person. I underestimated its power when I developed schizophrenia at the age of 29, as anti-psychotic drugs caused tremendous weight gain, impeding my ability and desire to continue running. As I have previously mentioned, this season I have been competing in the YMCA 10k Summer Series held in the Auckland Domain. The YMCA is Auckland’s premier marathon running club, but runs a series of weekly 10k races between September (when daylight savings begin) until April (when daylight savings ends) every year. There is a 5k option too and walkers are welcome. The entry fee is $5, payable on the day. The course is difficult, much more so than the Sri Chinmoy series also held in the Domain during winter. The series is divided into two parts. Part I took place between 4 October and 20 December 2018. There is a short break over the Christmas and New Year’s period. Part II takes place between 10 January and 4 April 2019 and kicks off again tonight. I can’t wait to get back into it!
I thought this would be a good time to reflect on the series so far and provide a snapshot of my progress throughout the season. The YMCA 10k series has been an important part of my weight loss journey. I need to run in order to lose weight, but I also need to lose weight in order to improve my running. It is all very circular! When I first started competing in the series in early October, I was 76 kg. Half way through, I’m currently sitting at 69.1 kg. My weight is approximately 10 kg heavier than my optimum running weight, so I certainly don’t expect to achieve my best 10k times. A part of me does wish that I was at goal weight at the start of the series and could run a perfect series without any injuries or interruptions, but I don’t know what world I was living in as this is completely unrealistic. The reasons I chose to compete in the events were the same as the reasons that I outlined for entering the swim and run held at Takapuna Beach next week, which I covered in my previous blog post.
The runs are all officially timed by marshalls from the YMCA and runners are ranked, but I like to think that I’m competing against myself, striving to better my PB, rather than out to beat anyone else. For me, the other runners are there for motivation and support. Racing has the added advantage of really pushing you. My times for races are almost always better than those for training runs. It’s a nice little community which unites people with a passion for running. I finally feel that I have found my people. Anyone is welcome, but the majority of participants are marathon runners who have been part of the YMCA for years. The people are so lovely that I would ordinarily be tempted to join the club and run with them on Sunday mornings, but the YMCA is a marathon running club. Their Sunday runs vary in distance, but are typically geared towards long-distance runners. Those days are long over for me. As regular readers of my blog will be aware, I consider myself a 10k runner these days. It’s a shame, as there are some incredibly inspiring people who are part of the YMCA who I might never have the chance to meet. On their Facebook page, I noticed that they were looking for someone to run with a blind man who is training for the New York Marathon, which made me take a hard look at my attitude towards my health issues and life generally. I actually feel quite ashamed for making a mountain of my problems when in fact there are others out there who are worse off than I am. Having completed one marathon myself (London 2008), I know just how difficult they are, even if you can see. Also, he’s going to New York. Most people would probably think “what’s the point of going to New York, it’s not like I can see anything there!”
There were 11 races in the first half of the series. Here is a little summary of my times for each race:
As you can see, over the course of Part I, I have generally improved and gotten faster. My goal is to bring my time below an hour by the end of Part II. I’ll follow up with a further post in April which summarises my progress and thoughts for the second half of the series.