An Imminent Date with Race For Life:
Some months ago now the lovely people at Cancer Research sent me an e-mail. They wanted me – a middle-aged, not-very-fit, never-really-run-since-at-school woman to take part in Race for Life. To blog about how I trained for it and then to actually do it.
I guess it’s part of my attitude to life that if I am set a challenge I will generally have a go. No matter how much I hate the idea, I don’t like turning things down. It can be my nemisis and since I haven’t actually done the race yet, it may still be.
One cold February day I put on my gym kit and made for the local park. My house looks out onto the park and the gate is just 50 yards from my front door – at least I didn’t have to spend too much time out on the street…
Pasley Park, where I live in Walworth is a smallish area of grass. At one time the land formed the grounds of Walworth Manor house. Acquired by Edward Cross it became the location of the Surrey Zoological Gardens, built in direct competition with London Zoo. It was the first Zoo in Europe to house giraffes, apparently were brought to Walworth on foot during the middle of the night, to avoid scaring anyone. Both the Zoo and the Music Hall that was built a little later, were sold off in the 1870 and houses were built on the land.
This part of London was bombed extensively during the Second World War and two bombs damaged much of the housing so that by the 1960 the area was derelict. Most of the houses were demolished and the area was reinstated as a small Park. It’s about the right size for a beginner!
Couch to 5k downloaded onto my phone, I made sure every session was as early as possible in the morning to avoid anyone seeing me. I staggered my way around the park for around 30 minutes three times a week. The Couch to 5k programme DOES start very gently, with short bursts of running countered by rather longer ‘recovery walks’.
And then it gets a bit tough.
There’s a point at which you stop doing ‘short runs’ and start doing one long session. And, there’s a real sense of achievement when you DO manage to run for 20 minutes without stopping.
From start to finish the programme takes 9 weeks. I took a little longer – a bad cold and a couple of press trips got in the way of my training sessions. Despite taking my kit with me to Croatia, I was just too embarrassed to run there (it would have meant going out through the hotel lobby!).
By the end of the nine week programme I had completed four 30 minute runs. At my speed, that’s nowhere near 5k – though if you include the 5 minute warm up and 5 minute cool down I am just about there. Now, I’m using the NIKE running app instead and I’m pleased to say I’ve actually completed two 5k runs without stopping (though I’m still on the wrong side of 40 minutes to cover the distance). I’ve also graduated from Pasley Park to Kennington Park, where there’s a lot more space (and a lot more people running properly!)
I’ve lost just a kilo in weight, which I find a little disappointing. But, I’ve definitely toned up – my body fat level has dropped and the scales now tell me I am 48 in the morning (7 years younger than my real age) rather than 57 ! So, there’s some good news, even though I certainly feel more like 68 when I’ve finished running.
Like most women my age, I know far too many cancer sufferers to pick out any one individual to run for. From my grandmother to my cousin, from a friend who married and found out she had cancer just after she got pregnant for the first time to another with four school age children. I’d run out of fingers if I tried to count. So, I’m happy to be having a go at raising money for something worthwhile.
On Sunday next week I will be in Hyde Park. If by any chance you are planning to run too, please do leave me a comment and let me know.
If not, you can always sponsor me through my Just Giving Page, or just leave me a comment and wish me luck!
And, I’m wondering what on earth I should try next.