Introduction – Helen Greenhalgh

Introduction – Helen Greenhalgh

In 1991 I came first girl in the cross country at Broughton High School. I didn’t run again until 2002 when I entered the Cancer Research Race for Life 5k. Although slow, I found I could run the 5k without stopping and so I ran Race for Life every year, once a year for the next 10 years.

During my early thirties I became unwell, sort of flu-like symptoms mixed with memory problems, fatigue like nothing I’d ever experienced before and lots of other weird and not so wonderful symptoms that didn’t go away. After many appointments and tests I was eventually diagnosed with M.E. I couldn’t lift a kettle, push a hoover or hold the hairdryer up for long enough to dry my hair. I couldn’t hold a train of thought, my speech was slurred and I Nana-napped more than a Nana.
I plodded through work and home life in a sort of fog which lifted only after much rest and a paced return to normal day to day activities. I was not for giving up or giving in and a kind of normality slowly resumed.

March 2012 saw the arrival of eight pounds and four ounces of Tobias James and my world turned upside down. Every new parent’s life is turned upside down but I felt like an alien in my own home.
To cut a long story short, I struggled hideously with post natal anxiety and was a mess for the first blurry, zombie-like days and weeks. I loved my little family but I was a shadow of myself for what felt like an eternity but in reality was only about six or eight weeks.
Gradually, I started to feel better and started to do the things the ‘old’ me had done and I signed up for the obligatory annual Race for Life 5k.

Three months after having Toby, I went on a night out dressed as Batgirl and drank lots of Jack Daniels until the early hours. The next morning I ran the charity 5k – in the same Batgirl costume – and thoroughly enjoyed it (possibly in part due to still being a bit tiddly…hic)

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Instead of hanging up the trainers for another year, I started going out running on my own. I loved the fresh air, the freedom and the thinking space it gave me and despite being no speed queen, it felt like something I could do relatively easily. Who’d have thunk it?

Fast forward to 2013 and I signed up for my first 10k, Run Preston and finished in 01:08:24 and I was chuffed to bits!

A chance conversation with a neighbour of mine led to Preston parkrun. A desire to continue my evening runs in Autumn without venturing out on my lonesome saw me join Red Rose Road Runners. The first time I joined the Tuesday night group we ended up running further than I thought I ever would and that got me thinking – what can I do next? So I signed up for a half marathon.
I arrived in Inskip on a freezing January morning in 2015 hopeful, but not confident and ran/ice skated it in 2:12:26 I was ecstatic!
And that was that, I kept running.

To date I’ve completed nine half marathons, fifteen 10k’s and Manchester marathon. Since the beginning of 2017 I’ve smashed both my 10k and half marathon PB’s (holy moley!) and I am beyond excited to be running VLM in April.

What makes me smile more than all of that put together though is that my four year old little dude thinks I’m awesome every time I bring a medal home. He’s stopped being disappointed now when I tell him I didn’t win (again).

I still love the solitude that comes with running but what I also love is running with Red Rose. I love that the first finisher is cheered as loudly as the last. I love meeting new members and getting to know existing ones. I love supporting and being supported. Flipping marvellous.

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