'Running gave me a new lifeline after my husband’s death…'
This week, we hear the inspirational story of Llanelli AC / DW group member Amanda de la Hey, and how running helped her process her most painful feelings:
"The last time I ran before my husband died was for Macmillan 5k at Cardiff Bute Park, little did I know then that my husband who was cheering me on that day, was going to die of the big C a few years later! And Macmillan really did get us through it, from the time of diagnosis to his untimely death 6 months later.
Two years have passed and the grief and the pain are now subsiding and whilst it never goes away, it has lessened thanks to running. The first 18 months I think I just existed on auto-pilot and then a friend suggested I take up running, as I was keen to do something for Macmillan as a way of thanking them for all the support they gave during my husband’s illness. So, my lovely friend, who is also a runner, as a way of encouragement to get on and do it entered me into a 10k race. I had 3 months to prepare and train. From the first day I went out to run, something came over me, I loved the cold air on my face, the freedom I felt running into empty spaces and for the first time I noticed the beauty of nature that was all around me. Running gave me a place to grieve. It allowed me to look at my most painful feelings and process them in a physical way. Initially, If I was feeling really bad I would run really fast or head up a steep hill. The pain running up a hill or pushing myself to my physical limits took away the agony inside and gave me the focus I needed.
The same friend suggested I might like to do some parkruns, so I attended Llanelli Coast Parkrun and was overwhelmed by the friendliness and welcome that awaited me, even though I was alone I did not feel alone. Each week I attended I wanted to do better than the week before and was keen to improve. My goal for the end of this year is to complete a parkrun in 29 minutes! It was at the parkruns I was also introduced to Strava and Fitbit and my passion for running is now huge and my grief subsides.
So, this challenge I have set for myself I cannot do alone, I need the help and support of a running group. From meeting people at the parkrun I was drawn to the friendliness of the members from Llanelli AAC and so summonsed up the courage to join their Monday night training group. I was nervous on arrival, but our training coach, Rob Campion, within seconds put me at ease, introduced me to other members and then we all ran together. I will always remember that first meeting, running around the Swiss Valley Reservoir, chatting to strangers, but whom within seconds felt like real friends, we were supporting each other, encouraging each other through the challenges set; like running up a hill 5 times and running up flights of steps in between running 4 miles. I felt so happy and so pleased I turned up that night. It’s been a couple of months now since joining and I love the feeling of being part of this running club, it has given me new friends, new challenges and a real sense of belonging to a caring community. My husband’s illness opened my eyes to how precious and short life is. You can either exist or start living and I chose the latter. I feel incredibly fortunate to have found a community that care about me, inspire me and support me, I am so grateful that Llanelli Amateur Athletics Club is now a staple part of my life."