On Monday 30th May (my birthday…) a very close and long-time friend of mine and I took part in the Vitality London 10k race. Now you may not think that this is much of an achievement, but I assure you, it is. Looking back at this time a year ago, the thought of running, or even exercising for that matter, would have never even entered my head!
Nicola and I both ran on behalf of The British Heart Foundation, with each of us having to raise a minimum of £200 to participate in the race. My fundraising skills effectively saw me begging work colleagues, friends (yes, on the dreaded Facebook… I’m one of those people), parents (whereby the spiel included ‘if you don’t sponsor me, I won’t be able to achieve a dream, and you wouldn’t want that, would you?) and of course our local butcher, for a loving donation to the cause.
This venture is not actually something that was well thought out. It began after a conversation with my trainer during a session, where we spoke of achieving goals. The very next day, after being put through a rather gruellingly intense hour long training regime the night before, I thought it’d be a fantastic idea to you know, put myself through further physical pain, by signing up to a 10k race. 10k… 10k… I am not a runner. Really I am not. I’ll take a battle rope – burpee superset any day. I also don’t really know how to ease myself into things. In this case, that would have been the 5k colour run, or a 5k walk. To make things worse, I convinced Nicola that it’d be a good idea, and signed her up on her behalf. She’s still not entirely forgiven me, I don’t think…
So with only two months from the time of signing up, we took to training. By this I mean working on actually being able to run more than 30 seconds without wanting to keel over and die from the lactic acid that was so swiftly flowing through each and every muscle in our legs. Fun! It was actually. It was a challenge, which I think we both secretly quite enjoyed, although we never actually said this aloud of course, because complaining about pain is far more entertaining.
Training wasn’t without its setbacks however. The more runs we did, the worse our knees became. You don’t realize until you begin, just how demanding running is on your joints and tendons. After quite badly injuring my Achilles less than a year ago, there were times when this was playing up quite aggressively. Not to mention every other part of my body!
Race day finally came around, and I have to admit that I felt rather nervous. I of course felt excited about it, but nerves were very much apparent at the same time. It was like the feeling you get when you go on roller coasters. You know, you are excited because you know how much fun they are, but you also know that you could potentially die if something ever went wrong…
So there we were, lined up at the starting line (for about 20 minutes, as we were in the last wave of people to run), and off we went. We ran a large chunk of it, but did have to intersperse it with a few power-walks, whilst admiring the beauty of the Capital. Anyway, we get to the last 200m of the race, the resplendent raspberry coloured finish line in sight – by far the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen in my life at this point – and in true Selina fashion, I feel a sudden shooting pain in the top of my leg as I sped up. What’s worse, I couldn’t even slow down. My family were at the last 100m mark cheering me on. To stop or slow down would have seen me be ridiculed for the rest of my life! Seriously!
As it turned out, I pulled my hip flexor. As it also turns out, your hip flexor is quite important when moving. Furthermore, Deep Heat is the strongest smelling scent you can imagine, that most people aren’t too keen on. People at work knew I was coming into the office before I even got there, purely because they could smell me before they could see me. My family also want to disown me, because these days I only ever smell like Deep Heat. Even my dog – who loves everyone – isn’t particularly fond of me right now.
All in all, it was an incredible experience, both the training and the actual race. We were gifted with a winner’s medal and a runner’s t-shirt, courtesy of Vitality and Adidas, who were the organiser and one of the sponsors, respectively. We were also given (and this was most definitely the best part of the entire day) free food! We were given bottles of water, Lucozade Sport, Jacobs Cracker Crisps (I got two of these, as my sister’s fiancé raided my bag and devoured most them before I could even get any), and almonds. Incidentally, these were eaten by my sister… I got two.
I am not a runner at all, and this is something I would most definitely recommend. It is something I never thought I’d do, a goal I can now say that I have achieved and I am extremely proud of us both. It has taught me a great deal more about myself, about ambition, drive and the desire to achieve. It also goes to show, that you really can achieve anything with a little hard work.