So after hearing the radio ads, sponsoring at least 3 people every year for what seems like forever and wanting to support so many good friends, I finally did something completely alien. I went to support and not partake in an event and I headed down to Nottingham’s Victoria Embankment on the river Trent to watch the Race for Life. I know it’s a big event and as it’s just a couple of miles away (downhill), I hopped on my bike as I figured the race car parks would just be heaving. Me and my bike ‘ain’t never gonna be best buddies’, I’ll never be a triathlete; don’t get me started again on the hazards of a bike seat and I don’t actually own a bike helmet so flying down Melton Road with the wind in my hair was exhilarating but possibly not tremendously safe! The location is where my two half marathons to date have started and finished and home of the Women’s Running 10km. It’s flat and it’s scenic, it’s perfect for selling Nottingham.
The atmosphere was great as always, the sun was shining, pink ladies…..and children, babies and dogs were already lining up. It’s definitely a fundraiser, the line up is broadly runners, joggers and walkers…..it’s certainly not a race, nor a Parkrun. Half of me was desperate to don trainers….me spectate, not participate, me on the sidelines not in the thick of it? Trust me, it rarely happens. 5km is my least favourite distance though, too short, too exhausting, too much pressure to push too hard, I’m happiest at 10km. Just one ‘runner’ took the spot of all elites on the front line, leaning over the start, ready for the off……no pink, no smile, no mates. She was off and before most spectators had realised what was going on, before they’d waved their team off and packed up their folding chairs and headed for the finish line, the lone runner was back and over the finish in 17 minutes 52 seconds. Don’t get me wrong, that’s a blistering 5km time, she barely broke a sweat, but it felt wrong, why did she enter? It wasn’t what the event was about. It was 5 minutes before the next more enthusiastic runners came in, a lifetime in event terms. For the first time amongst thousands of participants, I could have massaged my ego and come in the top 10 even with my usually lack lustre 5km time. I still felt guilty, watching, not doing. I felt I needed a T-Shirt with ‘I ran 11 miles yesterday ‘ on it and ‘I ran a charity Half Marathon’ on the back for good measure.
The day went to all the effort of so many people that have battled along with their ‘Couch to 5km’ apps and achieved their first official run. A friend and her daughters’ did just that and touchingly on the 7th anniversary of her mastectomy, another challenge she overcame. She’s done Race for Life before, but never ran, always stood with the joggers. She wasn’t even sure if she dare stand with the runners and today she ran 5km in 32 minutes, she’s a runner ! I wondered how many other people today had won that same battle themselves and not just running to remember loved one taken too soon? It must have been the first 5km for so many people, could it be the start of their running love affair, I so hoped it might be.
They kept coming. A young lady on crutches who finished ahead of so many at about 40 minutes! Very large ladies who undeterred gave it their best shot to round the last bend and cross the line at more than a walk. Young girls encouraging knackered mums to run the last few yards. Even my sister in law, never normally one to accept or undertake a challenge, ran the last few yards with her friend. It was 1 hour 2 minutes ( I thought I’d missed her when my friend came to speak to me) but just as I almost gave up, I saw her heading round the final bend. There were groups of younger ladies ambling in, why on earth didn’t you at least try to run, I’m thinking, but each to their own. There were funny moments too……..the ladies with 4 chihuahuas in tutus, the lady with Nordic walking poles (why?), the lady who’s little girl flatly refused to get out her pushchair and walk over the line and the numerous ladies who had to hold onto their boobs when making the final run to the line. Shock Absorber should have had a stall, they’d have made a fortune!
I left uplifted, if not daunted by the prospect of going back home up the hill I’d so enjoyed whizzing down earlier. My legs were knackered (well I did run 11 miles yesterday!) My runners grit and determination set in, just sit down and work those legs. Quads burning, me and bike did it and I couldn’t help smiling at the thought that the little ride down the river and back home again probably burnt more calories than the 5km ramblers just did.
It makes me proud that I run, that running is a gift and privilege that I hope at least a few of today’s pink ladies will embrace and come to love.
Categories: Ladies of a Certain Age Running (LCA)
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