Sunday, 8 June 2014

Race for Life: Cancer, We're Coming to Get You

When my alarm went off at 7am this morning the last thing I felt like doing was getting up and running 5k. After two back to back 13 hour shifts at work, followed by a 5k walk home from work when I finished at 11pm the night before, I was exhausted and the temptation to switch off my alarm and roll over in bed was pretty strong! Unfortunately, there were three very good reasons why I could not back out of running Race for Life this morning:

1) My lovely friend Emma (check out her beauty blog in the links below) was sat outside my bedroom door harassing me with texts until I opened it and let her in. It's amazingly difficult to go back to sleep when you're being nagged from a feet away!

2) Cancer is an illness which can affect anyone. You can have the healthiest, strictest and most nutritional diet, exercise daily and refrain from drugs, alcohol and smoking and still be hit by cancer. True all of those things dramatically lower your risk of cancer, but ultimately, it's one of those things that fitness really cannot defend against. Therefore, it's certainly something that anyone who cares about their health and fitness should be motivated to raise money for. The more money we raise for Cancer Research, the better we can defend ourselves against it and the closer we come to a cure. 

3) Cancer has affected a lot of the women in my family. Most recently, my Nana had a mastectomy. She is the bravest woman I know and nothing has ever stopped her from getting up and on with things that have to be done. Now if she can have major surgery and keep on going, how can I possibly decide i'd rather stay in bed then get up and run to raise money for cancer research, just because I worked a few long shifts?

So I got up, got dressed and Emma and I walked the 5k from my house to Victoria Embankment ready to begin the race! I'd had all the best intentions of getting in a healthy breakfast before the race, brilliant plans of eating weetabix and a banana to provide energy and nutrition. Unfortunately, my need for sleep had won over food so we were left to grab something at the Embankment. The smell of bacon was in the air, but at £4 a roll it was way out of my budget! So we headed over to the pick and mix stand and grabbed a nutritious breakfast of fried eggs, fudge and a few chocolate pigs (My pt would be so proud!)

There was a horrific performance by some school children (I will never be able to listen to Let it Go without cringing again) and then some incredibly hot guys came onto the stage to lead the warm up. There was a lot of arm waving and squatting, star jumps and jogging on the spot and it was a brilliant way to create a buzz and get everyone motivated for the task ahead. I must admit to chickening out of the hip thrusts though, it would have taken a good few beers to make me confident enough to hip thrust in the middle of a large crowd in a brightly lit public place! 

Impressively, the entry tickets alone for this race raised over £300,000 which really emphasises how great an impact Race for Life has!

The sleep cobwebs banished from my brain then, and operating on a minor pick and mix fuelled sugar rush, we set out on the 5k race. 

Whenever i'd told anyone I was running 5k their first reaction was to say, "5k that's easy!". Let's just take a moment to remember that 5k is around 3 1/2 miles! Now before anyone says that 5k is easy they should give running 3 1/2 miles a try and then come back to me! I myself had been pretty optimistic over the length but by the 1k mark it suddenly dawned on me what i'd let myself in for! Although the time went fast, the track felt long! Nearing the final stretch we could hear the music from the finishing ground and gained false confidence before realising there was another 1k to go!

Not to mention the misleading false finish line! A couple of metres before the real finishing line there was a stretch of pink carpet, bubbles blowing and people cheering. Given false hope many people slowed to a walk or doubled over with stitches only to realise that the finishing line was still ahead! Cruel joke!! There was no better feeling then running past cheering crowds and across that finishing line though. I have serious respect for those running the 10k Race for Life in the Afternoon because by the end of that 5k I was almost ready to crawl across the finish line rather than run!

Exhausted, and holding an agonizing stitch under my right rib, I was incredibly grateful to the volunteers handing out water and chocolate chip brioches. These were a welcome gift after running for 30 minutes in the hot sun! There was also an amazing sense of achievement after being handed the race for life medal. I never got medals in sports day at school (unless stickers for taking part count?) so this was a new experience! But the most exciting and welcome thing that I was handed was an apple from a volunteer on a bike. Words cannot describe how good that cool apple tasted!

I had an amazing morning and I'm so glad that I got my lazy ass out of bed to take part. I hope that all of the women that took part today feel proud of themselves for the effort they made. The sense of sisterhood and community amongst strangers, sisters united in the fight against cancer, was an amazing thing to be apart of. I was also so proud of my friend who ran the entire thing with a dodgy ankle, both of us have family reasons for wanting to take part in the race and I couldn't have picked a better person to do it with. Cancer is something we should all take seriously, as is health and fitness in general, so seeing so many people run to raise money for Cancer Research makes me feel proud of the women of Nottingham, and all over the country running Race for Life this summer.


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