The date: Sunday, 12th June 2011.
The time: 11.00 hrs.
The place: Capstone Park, Chatham, Kent.
The event: Race for Life – 5k
Another Silent Sunday photo explained.
As I explained here, my training for Race for Life had been hampered by yet another Plague like complications and by the time of the race, I was still suffering. I couldn’t sleep Saturday night so woke up at stupid o’clock Sunday morning, nervous as to whether I’d even be able to make it round the course walking, let alone running.
Before anyone else was awake, I decided to go for a walk around the block and see if I could get my jog on … tried (pathetically) to break out into a canter and had to stop and sit on an old lady’s front garden wall. The curtains twitched, but even she felt sorry for me as she left me in peace.
I got home and sat in the garden for the next hour, desperately trying to force feed some Fruit & Fibre down my neck, but it just stuck there like soggy cardboard.
This was NOT going to plan.
After putting a gazillion plasters on these blisters …
… I packed the family in the car, realising that NOT going wasn’t an option.
I took a rucksack full of obligatory snacks to keep my youngest occupied for the duration and eleventy billion bottles of Gatorade in the vain hope that drinking them would help. (FYI – it didn’t.)
Our local radio station, Heart FM, was compering the event and did a great job at getting everyone in the mood for the race. A local Zumba instructor even got on stage to put us through our paces. I made a feeble attempt at doing some sexy arm/leg combo but failed miserably and ended up looking like I was out on Day Release. I just had no energy.
My OH was doing a great job at trying to keep me motivated but I just felt so bloody ill. Woe is me.
And then I looked around and suddenly noticed everyone’s messages that they’d written on their backs about who they were running for and I finally got a little perspective. Thankfully, I have never lost anyone to cancer but I have lost someone close to me so I knew what that pain felt like.
It was just the kick up the butt I needed.
Yes, I still felt pathetically ill but it was just the flu. I would get over it in a few days. The names of the people I saw written on the backs of all these runners hadn’t been so lucky.
The organisers of the race were great – they all ushered us into our respective sections: 1 for walkers, 1 for joggers and 1 for runners. As tempted as I was to go to the walkers section, I made my way over to the joggers area – I’d intended to jog the race from the day I made the decision to take part and I was going to do my utmost to see it through.
I could feel the excitement building amongst everyone and as I looked around me at the sea of faces, I kissed my family and best friend goodbye and vowed to see them the other side!
The runners set off first and us joggers then made our way to the starting line. At exactly 11.00am the race was officially started and we all began jogging on the spot (even though we weren’t going anywhere just yet!) all raring to go. And then I found myself passing the starting line and I was off!
I saw my family for the first time, cheering me on, high fived my youngest and I began running.
The ladies that ran with me ranged from young girls of around six years old, running alongside their mums, to a lady in her 60’s who power walked the whole way round (and overtook me several times!) Teenage girls interspersed the occasional jog with walking, giggling all the way, but perhaps re-considering their choice of wearing ballet pumps instead of trainers and there were a few women, like me, who were running on their own, there for their own reasons, trying their best to get round the course without stopping.
Suffice to say, the course was much more hilly than I’d realised … hadn’t thought through the whole ‘running through woodland’ thing either (flat courses are obviously SO last year ..) but I suppose it made for a varied race! The organisers had even highlighted any tree roots we might trip on in flourescent pink!
By the time I’d reached the 2km mark, I felt like I’d been running for 4km. I was seriously exhausted. But as I got to the top of the first hill, the course flattened out and I had a little respite. As I looked a little further ahead, however, (and I wish I hadn’t ..) there was another huge (it looked huge to me, anyway) hill to climb. I just figured one step at a time was the best plan so dug a little deeper and carried on.
That philosphy took me round the rest of the course and once I’d passed 3km and come back through the woodland, I saw an old school friend who was there to cheer all of her friends on. She’d kindly sponsored me so I was glad she saw that I was actually running! That spurred me onto the next milestone and I rounded the corner and saw my family and friend there, cheering me on like complete mentalists!
It was just what I needed.
The last 1km was thankfully on the flat and even though it was wet and windy, it was easier than running up one of those damned hills again! Admittedly, my pace was as slow as most of the other runners’ walks, but I didn’t stop. I glanced at my watch and vaguely noticed I was on track to finish at around the 40 minute mark, which is what I had done it in before, (four months prior.)
When I saw the 500m sign, it spurred us all on and the women who had previously been walking suddenly sped up and ran home, wanting to finish in a blaze of glory – and rightly so. Then there was old sweaty me. By now I know I’d gone beyond red faced to white faced, and was so hot I had visions of spontaneously combusting.
The home stretch was in sight and everyone was cheering. Just a few metres to go and I looked up at the clock above the finishing line. Thirty seven minutes! I couldn’t believe it! It probably sounds really slow to a lot of people but considering I didn’t think I’d even be able to make it round the route in one piece without the aid of a wheelbarrow, I was chuffed to bits.
As I crossed the line, I looked behind me and saw my OH film me as I crossed the line, and my kids and friend waving and cheering – what more do you need?!
As I was handed my medal and bottle of water and made my way back to my family, I was in a daze, but took a moment to give myself a metaphorical high five. As a novice runner, and an overweight, forty year old woman at that … I was in shock. The idea of running at all eight months ago was so alien to me, I couldn’t even comprehend the idea of entering a race, let alone finishing it … and yet here I was.
Exhausted, blotchy, thirsty, sweaty … but I’d never felt more alive.
So, a massive thank you to everyone who sponsored me, supported me and cheered me on …. I really couldn’t have done it without you.
To date, I have raised £115 for Cancer Research UK, over my target of £100. It’s still not too late to sponsor me and you can do so here … every little helps!