Friday, 15 June 2012

My Race for Life Experience

A few months ago, I sat with my boyfriend and decided I needed a new challenge. I'm heading abroad for the first time in my life later this year, and decided I needed to get my Beach Body ready in time for our September departure. I spent hours searching for the solution to my problem when something popped into my head: I could do the Race for Life in Battersea Park!

I knew the event was held there every year. As a 10-year-old Girl Guide, I helped out at the event, handing out medals to the wonderful women who participated. As a 16-year-old, I cheered on my younger sister doing the race. This time, it would be me pushing myself to the limit around the park I spent my childhood in.

Cancer Research is a charity very dear to my heart. As a child, I lived through the excruciating horror of my mum being diagnosed with cancer. Thankfully, she won the fight. But there are so many others who don't, including my great-grandfather, and numerous family friends. So with the still-raw pain of my mum's diagnosis in my head and heart, I signed up for the Battersea Park event and decided to go ahead and do something amazing.

My first training session was nine weeks ago. It ended up being my only training session. It was cold, wet, and miserable outside, and my 5k training became a race to McDonald's with my boyfriend. We made it to McDonald's at Wandsworth Roundabout (a mere eight minute jog from my house) and promptly got the bus back home. It subsequently proved to be my only training session. Over the past nine weeks, I conditioned myself to go from thinking of it as a 5k run to a simple 'stroll in the park.'

That all changed as I arrived in Battersea Park. Arriving an hour early with my boyfriend in tow, I could hardly contain the excitement I felt. I could hear 'The Promise' by Girls Aloud blaring over the speakers and suddenly felt energised. Heart DJ Toby Anstis kept everyone motivated with his own personal story, and high-fived numerous women who crossed the finish line. The whole way round the park, I kept trying to hear his voice, as I knew that meant I was almost done. A wonderful motivation! I spent a very long time reading all the signs on the backs of tshirts, discovering who these wonderful women were running, jogging, or walking for. It spurred me on to make a decision that, in hindsight, was probably quite stupid.

As everyone was lining up to start the race, I joined up with the joggers. I have absolutely no idea why. But I did it! I jogged the full 5k, stopping every now and then to take in the beautiful sights of my local park, filled to the brim with thousands of women running or walking around by the river. What pushed me on more than anything was Dame Kelly Holmes, who can only be described as Superwoman! I think she spoke to pretty much every woman who was participating that day and I know I enjoyed my little two-minute chat with her as I jogged along.

I had such an amazing day, although my body is feeling the effects now. I ache from the waist down, but it's a good pain. I did my first Race For Life on Wednesday, and I've already set the plans out for next year too! I implore every woman reading this to sign up for your local event. There are still places available and you have no idea how amazing you will feel afterwards.

Photo Credit: Toby Anstis

Twitter: @AmyWhitear

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