This day last year I rode in my first cycling sportive, in Loseley Park, in Surrey. I was very nervous and unsure what to expect. This blog has a fair amount of the story of how I got involved. As it happens, as it was a women only event, with bike hire and mech support laid on, it was brilliant, with a supportive vibe, fun stuff for my kids to do while they awaited my return and a VIP cool down area afterwards. I met the incredibly inspiring Victoria Pendleton that day.
Since then, I’ve signed up to the longer distance event at Woburn which was beautiful and a LOT less hilly, thank God. Though my chain fell off far more times than I’d like to remember, I completed it without injury despite having taken the training a lot less seriously than for my first ride – I was perhaps a bit more confident, maybe even over-confident once I knew the set up a bit more.
In addition to the cycling which can be rather a lonely thing to do, I’ve also undertaken to do a lot more exercise, realising that those endorphins really are marvellous things at giving you energy and clarity in your life. I finally found the kind of exercise I enjoy – short sharp HIIT classes with other people for chit chat and companionship. These are done OUTSIDE rather than in front of a mirror or numbing your brain while pedalling or trudging on a treadmill watching misogynistic music videos or a soap on the telly. I’ve lost nearly a stone in the process and even managed to buy a size 10 dress – something I never ever imagined. I thought I’d be a 14 for the rest of my life.
I’m writing this because in the last few days, a sentence sprang from my lips that I could never have predicted. A combination of diary clashes means that I won’t be able to get together with the relentlessly cheerful and motivating PT who runs the exercise classes I attend and who has been helping me over the summer too.
The words I uttered were: “It’s going to be a bit of a nightmare, because I’m going to struggle to do any exercise for a month.”
I was that person who genuinely counted running late as exercise, so for me this is a huge u-turn. If you’re the kind of person who never thought that they could get off the sofa and get on with it, let me assure you it’s possible.
This is why I’ve bought my #thisgirlcan t-shirt.
I am not only wearing it, I’m living it at every opportunity.