So last Sunday was Race for Life day and yes, I ran for the first time ever in years. I started the race with a couple of friends, one of whom runs quite regularly and has rather scarily done the London Marathon in the past. Thanks to her encouragement, we all started the race at a run rather than a walk, which I might have done had I been on my own. Although not for the first few yards as you don’t tend to get off to a flying start in a race with 4,500 people in it, but by the time we passed Nick and the girls they did at least see me running.
As we rounded the first corner, I must confess I began to wonder how long I was going to be able to keep it up for as my heart was already pounding and my leg muscles tiring (for which I fully blame the half hour aerobics session they made us do for a warm-up…). But as I kept putting one foot in front of the other I somehow found a rhythm I never even knew I had. Until of course ten minutes in I got the biggest stitch EVER. I did try to run through it, but it just kept getting worse so eventually I caved and walked while it subsided.
Having blotted my copybook so early in the race I didn’t see the point of trying to run up the hills, so my strategy was to walk up them, thereby conserving my by then limited energy, then run down the other side until the next one. This went very well until the last one, by which time the sun had obviously frazzled my brain as well as my shoulders. I could see the finish was coming up and uncharacteristically decided it would be cheating to saunter up the last hill then run merrily down the few yards to the finish. So I ran up it, feeling quite impressed with my stamina and fitness levels and very thankful that it wasn’t a particularly long one. That is, until I reached the top and realised that the finish line was rather more than a few yards away and the remaining distance was lined with people on both sides, clapping and cheering those finishing and making it impossible to stop running without losing vast amounts of face and self-respect.
Well I didn’t stop running, but my god I really thought I was going to die before I got to that damn finish line. It took all my concentration not to fall over, so much so that I didn’t even see my faithful supporters or my time for the race. I came in somewhere between my friends, who finished at 28 and 42, sorry 41.55, minutes respectively, so I like to think mine was about 35 minutes. Not that I have any idea whatsoever whether that’s a good time for 5km or not – please feel free to enlighten me if you do.
But whatever time I did it in, I (almost) enjoyed it and felt totally proud of myself for running (almost) all the way round. Most importantly I raised £230 for Cancer Research so thank you to all the people who donated and believed I could do it (or in some cases hoped I couldn’t .. you know who you are). Thanks also to my lovely supportive husband and daughters who stood on Epsom Downs for well over an hour just to see me start and finish the race – it was a huge boost to have them waving at me as I set off and be there to hold me up meet me at the end.
Would I do it again? I guess so; I ran more than I thought I would be able to and it wasn’t as hard as I’d anticipated, although I’d try to train for it next time (let’s face it, even one training session would be an improvement). But I would have to compare it to childbirth – the longer it is after the event, the better you tend to think it went and the more likely you are to misguidedly think it’s a good idea to repeat the experience. Plus you can barely walk for at least a week afterwards, although for rather different reasons.