My First 5k – Race for Life:
I am not a natural athlete. I spent most of my schooldays avoiding sports lessons by having to go for music lessons. If I ran, I used to wheeze uncontrollably. Something I discovered later in life was asthma that my parents (a doctor and a nurse) had left ‘undiagnosed’ because they thought it would encourage me to ‘be ill’ if I knew about it. Anyone who has a father or mother in the medical profession may well empathise…
I felt an unlikely candidate to run a 5k for Cancer Research. But, I also thought that if I was going to run ever in my life, doing it as part of a blogging challenge was the most likely way for me to actually make it to the Start Line.
From very, very small steps over the last few months I’ve got to the stage where I can run without stopping for 30-40 minutes. Actually ‘run’ is perhaps a little optimistic – I jog-stagger. But, as someone who couldn’t run for more than a minute at the start of the year I’m astonished.
As the date for my Race for Life event got closer I got increasingly fretty. I started to google what time you should take for a 5k. There are women who can run that distance in under 20 minutes. I was horrified. I didn’t want to be the person left behind, finishing after everyone else had packed up and gone home. Then, I asked my friends, some of whom have already done the Race for Life events.
‘Don’t worry – loads of people just walk’
OK..so worst case I can walk 5km
But I DID want to run, so I kept training right up until the day before, checking with a sportier friend how to manage things to be in ‘race form’ for the day. Apparently you should do your last ‘big’ run a week before the event. Then, keep going, doing just 10 or 15 minutes on the day before the race to stay in peak condition (!). Then, you eat pasta for supper and porridge for breakfast, at least a couple of hours before the run to make sure you have the energy to keep going. And you keep drinking water to stay hydrated.
On the tube, by the time I got onto the Piccadilly line there was already a sea of pink. Quite reassuring to know you are going in the right direction. And, as soon as I got into Hyde Park, I could see the 10km runners, who had started an hour or so earlier, making their way round the path. Some of them were running. Some of them were walking. And some of them were jog-staggering, just as I planned to do.
As I’d been told, there was a great atmosphere. Lots of runners, lots of supporters. Lots of emotions from people running for someone close to them. It was amazing. And, the thought that these events have been held right the way across the country was even more amazing.
On the start line I was really nervous. Would I manage to jog-stagger all the way? Would I be last? I put myself into the joggers group, not convinced I’d be able to keep up. I know I’m not a ‘runner’ but I didn’t want to assign myself to ‘walking’ without at least trying.
The first kilometre sign seemed a LOT longer than when I did my Kennington Park runs, where the Nike app cheered me on. But, everyone else was still going strong. Hyde Park has hills too. Not steep ones, but more than in my part South London where much of the land was marsh before it was drained. By the time I got to the 3km marker, I was really tired. I was also not used to running in the sun and found that quite hard to deal with. I normally get up early and start at 7 or 7.30, not through unbridled enthusiasm for running but simply to avoid bumping into friends on their way to work!
The final 600 metres or so WAS flat. Which is just as well because by that stage my legs were on the point of collapse. And I’d turned as pink as my teeshirt.
I’m pleased to say I made it. I DID run round the entire course, in about 38 minutes. And, I have raised £252.00 in the process. I’m still running in the morning, round Kennington Park, so maybe next year I’ll be able to enter the 10km – regardless I’m thrilled to have discovered that even in my 50s #ThisGirlCan
With many thanks to Cancer Research for inviting me to have a go. And to everyone who sponsored me, encouraged me along the way and generally supported me. Particularly to Simon and Anna for turning up on the day to cheer me on – even if they DID take pictures of me!
If you’d still like to sponsor me the Just Giving page is open for a few days after the race
If you’d like to take part in the first ever RaceforLife marathon and half marathon events in the autumn, or book your place for next year check out the RaceforLife website