By Running a Race!
On 17th June 2012, I will be taking part in the Race for Life in Bath in aid of Cancer Research. I will, of course, blog all about how my training is going and about the race itself and you will be able to see all of that here.
Please donate whatever you can (even if it’s just a pound!) by clicking on this link and sponsoring me online. If this blog has brightened your lunch hour, or inspired you to try something new or even just made you smile then show your appreciation by helping me raise some money – it’s for a really good cause.
Update 1: Struggle
I am running a race in 33 days. That is a fact. A terrifying ridiculous fact but a fact nonetheless.
This statement is also true: I am chronically under-prepared.
First, a rainy April meant that I got behind with my training. Then a horrible cold, followed by a week in bed with Labyrinthitis (You remind me of the babe…) have left me unable to do any sort of exercise for over a fortnight. My newly acquired muscles are wasting away and I haven’t been able to do anything about it – even walking to our local supermarket yesterday left me needing a nap.
Sitting here on my sofa, wheezy from my cold and queasy from my ear infection, the prospect of walking 5K, let alone running it, seems impossible. But…
I know that it isn’t impossible, just difficult. I have overcome greater challenges before. I am going to run that race and, with all that in mind, I am going to force myself to walk 5K this afternoon. Fact. And tomorrow I am going to try to run. Fact.
If you haven’t sponsored me already, you should. Here are the reasons why:
- The Race For Life raises money for Cancer Research; a disease that most of us will be affected by at some point in our lives.
- This is going to be really hard for me (see above) and your donations will motivate me to keep going
- I will nag and nag and nag and nag and nag until you do
You can sponsor me by clicking on this link:
or, if you’d rather give me some money IRL then I have an actual paper sponsorship form like off of the olden days.
I know that money is tight for most people, and that there’s always someone asking for your hard earned pennies, but I also know how generous and lovely you all are from your wonderful comments. I will be massively grateful for anything you can spare. Thank you.
I never used to understand why people enjoy running. People who talked to me about a compulsion to get out and pound the pavements, about it being a “time for reflection”, “blowing away the cobwebs of a miserable day”, “a natural high” would be met by a bemused face and a ‘not for me thanks!’. I would drive past the Downs and parks in Bristol, frowning at the joggers – why were they doing it to themselves? Surely there was a better way? Then I signed up for the Race for Life – mostly because it began with R.
I started following the Couch to 5K plan from the NHS website, listening to podcasts which told me when to run and when to walk. The programme alternates periods of running and walking slowly building up the length of the running sections and reducing the number of rest breaks. When I started I could not run for 60 seconds without stopping. My legs would hurt for days afterwards, I would dread the next session.
At the last update ( 3 weeks ago) I was in week 4, running for just 3 minutes at a time and I was struggling to do that. I would find myself counting my steps, estimating how much further I had to go, desperately wanting the voice in my ears to tell me I could stop. Unable to think about anything but putting one foot in front of the other.
Then pn Friday I ran for 25 minutes non-stop, and I sprinted the last 2 minutes (with a big grin on my face). Today I will run again and see if I can go further.
Running makes my lungs burn, my legs ache, my feet blister. Within the first few minutes I am convinced I need to stop – that I am not able to go on, that I can’t lift my feet off the floor. But I don’t stop. I have a race to run on Sunday and, if I’m going to get anywhere near running 5K, I can’t stop. And so I run. And then I find my stride, and I’m out of breath but not wheezing. And my legs are sore but still moving. And I just keep running. And I love it.
On the one hand, it’s the joy of having achieved something I never thought I could. I was perpetually ‘Stuck in the mud’, always ‘It’ in the primary school playground. In secondary school I failed to complete even the 400 metres without stopping and walking. As an adult I refused to run for buses or trains, resulting in missed appointments and frustrated friends. Even when I started the podcasts I didn’t believe I’d make it all the way to the end. I am amazed at the progress I have made, hardly believing it even as I’m doing it. I now run every other day.
It’s more than that though… I actually enjoy going for a run. I run in the evenings, and I find myself thinking about it during the afternoon – planning where I will go, knowing that I will feel better for it. On my drive to work, as I’m in a new place every week, I’m scoping out potential routes. Pretty parks, canal paths – I love to run alongside a river, especially on a sunny day. I run along, head up, my mind miles away from bills, job applications, work. Some of my best ideas come to me when I’m running. My brain seems to enjoy the time out, rewarding me with funny wordplay and blog suggestions.
It has done wonders for my emotional wellbeing too. Since I started running I have been less anxious. I don’t know whether this is the result of all the endorphins I’ve been releasing, what I do know is I’ve been feeling happier and more confident with each passing week. It’s less of a struggle to get out of bed, easier to cope with being away from home and friends. When I don’t run (I missed a few days with a sore ankle) I feel tired and glum; miserable.
So… yes! I am amongst the converted. I am one of those people who will enthuse at you about how good it feels to get out for a run. But that is not to say that the Race for Life on Sunday will be easy for me. In order to complete it I will need to run further and for longer than I have ever done before. But this I know – I will keep running for as long as I can and, even if my legs feel like lead, I will run across the finish line.
If you haven’t sponsored me yet, then you should. It means you’ve read this blog, worth at least £1 in my opinion, AND (more than that) its all for a brilliant cause. Click on this link and do it now before you forget.
Thank you x
(This post was partly inspired by Jamie Thunder’s recent article in the Huffington Post, which you can check out here. Well worth a read)
So… I did it. On Sunday 17th June 2012, I Raced for Life! Alongside over 2000 women and girls, I ran 5km around the University of Bath. I’m not going to bore you with a blow-by-blow account (unless you see me in person – in which case you’ll have to hear about every kilometre in intricate detail) but there are a few things worth saying.
What’s it all for?
I had been so worried about my own training, about making sure I could make it round the course, that the reason for the race itself had gone to the back of my mind. Walking onto the university grounds, into a sea of women dressed in pink, the reason I was there was pulled into sharp focus. 1 in 3 people will develop cancer in their lifetime – this I knew. It was a very different thing to have the evidence all around me. Runners were racing for their for their mothers, fathers, children, grandparents, friends, workmates – some in remission, some still fighting, others sadly gone. Many people had written multiple names on their backs, as I did. Some were running to find a cure for themselves. I felt humbled to be part of it – running 5000m seemed like a walk in the park compared to battling cancer, supporting someone through the disease or grieving for a loved one.
I need to say thank you…
- To the 21 amazing people who have sponsored me so far – thank you so much for your generosity. You’ve made a real difference. The £223 raised could pay for a ‘sophisticated microarray’, a powerful piece of technology which helps scientists to scrutinise thousands of genes in a single experiment, and identify which are switched on in cancer. Or it could cover the cost for two women to take part in a clinical trial aimed at improving survival for post-menopausal women with early-stage breast cancer. If you haven’t yet, you can still click here and donate.
- To all the people who sent me messages of support on the day. Knowing that people cared about how I was doing really helped me keep going – especially towards the end of the race.
- To Jim for coming down on the day, being there at the finish line and capturing my moment of triumph for posterity.
I finished the race in just under 40 minutes. I know that’s not a brilliant time BUT it is significantly faster than I thought I’d manage (I had aimed for 50 minutes or less). Most importantly, I ran the whole way round – never stopping to walk – which means I ran faster and for longer than ever before. I am proud of myself – next time I’ll do even better.