On Wednesday this week, I had a marvellous time and a challenge.
I am training for the GEAR run in King’s Lynn on the 2nd May 2010. I have never been a serious runner- the last time I did anything like this was for a few weeks with some Norwegian nursing colleagues in 1982 while I was living in Oxford. But then back in May last year, I saw the Lynn News headlines about the 09 race and thought how great it would be to be a part of that. I thought about it for a while as I have women’s charities dear to my heart and I could run for them.
Having hit my mid-forties and having learned to swim-on my back at least the previous year, I took part in a sponsored swim for the local Special Care Baby Unit. I knew what a great feeling it was to do something new for yourself, that you have struggled with for years and to help other causes. ( I have never been a sports woman and the games and sports field bring back cruel and bullying memories for me).
By July of 09 I was sorely tempted to have a go at GEAR. But 10k, 6.25 miles is no mean feat and I knew the work and the training would have to be enormous. This was no few widths in a swimming pool doing back paddle for a few minutes.
I started off for 5 mins around my field while walking my dog and found the instant lift up and feel good factor. I enjoyed it and thought this could keep me fit. The previous year I had done a little running, as I was recovering from work-related stress, and found it to be helpful.
Soon I could run 10 minutes then 15 and then 20. My first mile seemed such a long way and a huge achievement. I had been spurred on by my twitter friends and one pledge alone from one contact made me realise people out there were kind and believed in me. That was it. I was doing it. I was running for GEAR.
In September, I then had a set back and have been struggling on and off ever since. More stress-related but non-serious physical and emotional sickness and pain left me feeling sometimes too tired to run. Snow over Christmas delayed training by over 4 weeks, as the continuous ice, snow and raw cold left me feeling it was impossible. I felt the task was not going to be achieved.
Work was becoming tough again and long-stretches meant that day training and having energy to night train was hard work. But I had the support of wonderful people and two active running mentors who ran themselves. I didn’t want to let myself down or them, or my ladies’ charities whom I am running for. (I am running for FORWARD and the Women’s Resource Centre.) I had e-mails of advice, encouragement and sometimes the necessary kick up the backside from my mentor trainers. It was all kind but focused for me to achieve the objective.
However, I had revised my aims because of these hurdles. I would enter and if it meant I had to walk some of it, so be it. I was told it was ok to do that, just to get round the course and take part. Many people did it that way. I would tell people this and they would sponsor me on a smaller basis for it. I had to make it in two hrs so I had time to do it.
Sally suggested I do a trial run and walk, and for that I got my backside off the sofa, managing a fab 4.51 miles in one Sunday afternoon in 60 mins, having run so little in seven weeks. We thought this would be a good way of knowing what 10k felt like.
The day for the run was perfect. There had been another covering of snow but it was definitely a go. The sky was sunny and blue. Sally was perfect for me that day. She did not put me under pressure but I knew there was going to be no easy cop-out either. She choose a run perfect for the required distance with new and varied terrain. There was grass, mud tracks, fields, roads, pavements and two slight but extended upward gradients. These really tested my endurance.
I tried to not to think about how well or how badly I was going to do. We chatted and ran, was quiet and breathed with concentration. I took my mind off it. She took my mind off it. I learned to slow my pace when it was getting tough, the hills were killers but she willed me up them. The down side seemed easy then. Once I had hit 4.56 miles I no- way wanted to stop. My legs were lead by then but I forgot about them and we were on the home straight anyway.
We finished in one hr 19 mins and had covered 6.07 miles, just under the 6.25 miles that makes up 10k. That feeling of having done it was fantastic. We drank Raspberry Voda and had Hot Cross buns and Assam tea. I still have just under three months left to train to make it easier, faster and reduce my time may be.
Am I still going to stop now and walk? No way. I am going to run to the finish line. I know I can do it now. Competitor 237: I registered last week, is going to do this.
And I could not have done it without my two special running mentors and special friends who have willed and helped me on. I owe them everything. Thank you so much.
And I will be carrying on running after the race. For me now, it is part of my life!