Today is the first day that I haven’t come into work hobbling! ‘Why?’ I hear you ask. Well, last Sunday I took part in the Henley Half Marathon to raise funds for NRAS. The 13.1 miles really took its toll on my body and for the whole of last week I suffered from blisters and very sore muscles! Today is a good day – I am walking normally now and I think I have made a full recovery!
I’ll take you back to when I first committed to take part in this run. It was about June or July of this year and I had been thinking about doing some sort of challenge to raise money. I’d been helping fundraising with the donations they’d received, and I had seen lots of donations come in for various running events and it occurred to me that maybe I should take part in some sort of running event. I knew that the Rotary Club of Henley held an annual half marathon and considering that I live in Henley I thought it would be a good idea to take part! Now came the hard part, I had to tell fundraising that I was going to do it, which meant that after that, there was absolutely no way I could back out!
The months that followed consisted very much of running up and down hills in the countryside where I live, often with my dog who, luckily for me, dragged me up most of the hills! I hope that my neighbours started to notice that after a while I was actually managing to keep up rather than simply holding on for dear life!
As ‘D Day’ was rapidly approaching I began to think that I had made a big mistake! The ‘what if’s’ started filling my mind; What if I fell over? What if I fell over and the thousands of competitors trampled me?! What if I couldn’t make it up the hill? What if I took a wrong turn and got lost???!!! My mind went into overdrive and suddenly this run in the countryside that I had started to look forward to had now turned into a monstrous task with potential hazards at every turn! I’d worked myself up about it so much, that when Sunday October 10th finally came around, I was a bundle of nerves!
When I arrived at the race start, a rugby club in Henley, it was absolutely full of people and had a really energetic, bustling and exciting atmosphere! I’d done a few runs in the past but the turnout was nothing compared to this!
We were called to the start line at 9:30am and at the sound of the gun, we set off and the thousand odd runners started piling through the start. I was so nervous, my heart was pounding and about 100m into the run I thought I’d never make it! But once the crowds of people started thinning out, and the real athletes made their way to the front to lead the rest of us, I found my rhythm and my heart rate started to calm down!
I remember the crowds of spectators lining the roads and footpaths as we ran through the town. It was great to see all the different types of people taking part; mothers with prams and children in tow, couples, as well as a man of 70! At one point I was hot on the heels of a man dressed as a horse! The scenery was beautiful; quiet country lanes, wide open fields, the river – I was enjoying myself and started to feel like I could actually finish the run….that was until I came face to face with my worst fear, the one thing I had avoided thinking about during my training, my nemesis – the hill! This hill marked the last leg of the run and by this point I had to walk!
It must have been a miracle, but I marched on and made it to the top where the water station was, which happened to be right outside my house. I could see my parents and brother ready with the camera to capture this moment – but I couldn’t let the only photos be of me walking! I managed to break into a jog and as I got closer I could hear them cheering me on - I particularly remember my ‘supportive’ brother yelling at me to run faster! So I picked up the pace and ran past them until their cheers faded into the distance and I was out of sight, at which point I stopped, gasping for breath and hobbling as my feet and legs started to cramp! However, it was all downhill from that point on and before I knew it I was rounding the corner in Henley town and was back at the rugby club, the finish line was literally minutes away and I’d promised myself I would run over the finish line no matter how exhausted I felt!
I ran and ran, and I could see the finish line ahead of me, the man on the microphone notified spectators that runner 596 was about to cross the finish line and there I was – I’d done it! Hallelujah! I can’t tell you how good it felt to have crossed the finish line, all my hard work had paid off! I could now tick that off my list of things to do! I really enjoyed the run and am so glad I did it, but I’m not sure I could do it again! I certainly couldn’t have done it without all the support and sponsorship I received.
Thank you so much to everyone who sponsored me – I raised a total of £909 which is nearly double my original target, all of which will go towards supporting people with RA.
Now for the next challenge – watch this space!