Monday, 14 July 2014

Running The Race For Life





Last Sunday on the 6th of July i took part in the 10K Race for Life for Cancer Research UK. For the past few years i have wanted to participate in the race, mostly as a fun thing to do with my friends, but this year was the first year that i actually felt like it was something i needed to do.

Whilst i was living in Brighton i became involved with Macmillan by being a volunteer event assistant and one of the members of the project Team Up. I was sad that i had to leave those roles behind when i moved cities a little over a month ago. However i have every intention with becoming involved with Macmillan again in Leicestershire. Before last year i had never really been involved with charities that much; to me they were people on the streets collecting donations and adverts on the television. In October 2013 i decided that i wanted to know more about charities and what their goals were. I began to think more about what a charity was, what they were doing it all for, and most importantly, why that charity is necessary.
Last November whilst on a days training course for a charity calling centre i learnt a thing or two. The number one reason why people do not donate money to charities that telephone there house or approach them on the street is because people find it hard to picture that their few pounds is actually going to make a difference.

Is my £2 a month actually going to beat cancer?

It is the wrong questions that we ask ourselves that plant the doubt. Instead it should be...

Is my £2 a month along with the thousands of other peoples £2 a month actually going to beat cancer?
The answer, i believe, is yes. One day, yes it will.

After i realised this, i became fixated on raising money for a cancer charity and becoming involved with them. Unfortunately, i have to say that i did not just wake up one morning and decide i wanted to raise money for Cancer Research UK or become a volunteer for Macmillan. It was due to loosing my cousin Lorraine to breast cancer, being told my granddad Geoff's cancer had become terminal, and most recently discovering my other granddad Derrick has cancer too. In all honesty, on top of feeling pain and sadness, i mostly felt anger. That anger gave me motivation to do something.
I soon became aware of the fact that i am not the only one who have family members that have been/are being affect by cancer. And i am certainly not alone with the fact that i want to fight against cancer and do all that i can to help cancer charities. The fight against cancer is a massive community. It is full of people with different stories and different reasons as to why they want to raise money and awareness, but everyones aim and goal is the same.
They are the reasons why i felt it was important for me to take part in the Race for Life for Cancer Research UK this year.

Up until March this year, i hated running! I have never been a particularly athletic person and running especially was not something i had ever been interested in. Even when i was obsessed with exercise, running was always something i would pass up on. So this year i challenged myself to get into running. I certainly did not want to spend most of the 10K Race for Life in a ball on the floor wheezing for breath after only a mile. I soon realised that you not only have to train your body, but your mind as well. You can run as far as you believe you can. After a few months of light training, i had reached a point where i could see the 10K being doable and not a complete struggle. Of course, i had periods where i was not training as good as i should have been. Birthdays, parties, moving, etc. little things seemed to be getting in the way a lot. A month before the race i had lost my confidence in running. I will admit that if i am worried i cannot do something or think that i am going to fail, then i have a habit of flaking out. Yet, this was the one thing i could not flake out of. The past few weeks i spent going for practice runs a few times in the week, running about 3-4 miles in the mornings. I even took up yoga to give me strength and see if that would help my running. And it did. It made me stronger.

After months of on and off training and talking about running, race day was finally here!! To be honest, the morning of the race i was scared shitless! After going for a quick 2 mile run when i got up to give my muscles a warm up and getting in a panic that i couldn't find my headphones, it was time to go. I was overwhelmed with a nervous/excited feeling on the way there. I was almost hyper, but i wasn't sure if that was due to having bursts of energy as i had eaten two Weetabix and two bananas before we left.
As soon as i saw everyone else in there pink t-shirts with their supporters, all the stalls for donations and face painting, and hearing the music playing from the big speakers, i knew i was about to do something important...and fun! I felt ready. I didn't feel nervous anymore, just determined.

After a bit of waiting around with my mum and boyfriend, i went off to take part in a warm up for everyone that was running the race. I could barely do the warm up moves properly due to laughing so much! Then before i knew it, they were telling us to go to the start line. I put my playlist i had made for running on shuffle, put my iPhone in my arm band, my headphones in my ears, and gripped my water bottle tight.

3 - 2 - 1 - GO!!!


Before i started the race i had told everyone that i was expecting to complete the 10K in about 1 hour 15/20 minutes. I was trying to be realistic and as per usual was thinking pessimistically about what i could achieve. I stopped a couple of times for water and a breather but surprised myself with my stamina and my determination to keep on running. The track wasn't correctly marked for the distance, so as i went around the track i had no idea how much of the race i had completed. When i realised i was near the end and could see the finish line i was relieved. I had no idea how long i had been running for, but felt if i ran any longer i was sure to get blisters. As i approached the finish line i noticed people had  crowded round to clap the runners that were crossing the finish line. I felt pressure from having people watch me, so even though i was exhausted, i picked up my pace for the last part of the race. I stole a quick glance from the finish line to look up at the time clock. I almost stopped due to my surprise. I had finished the race in 54 minutes. As i slowed to a pace, accepted my medal and made my way through the crowd, all i could think was one thing... "Fuck! I did it. I actually did it!". And then i spotted my mum and of course burst into tears. Yep, i cried. Sobbed in fact. It was then that it dawned on me that subconsciously i didn't think i was going to do it. And the realisation that i had achieved my goal and finally done something that i can be truly proud of, well it was all a bit over whelming.

I am so happy i took part in the Race for Life and proud of myself for exceeding my expectations. Most importantly though i raised money, even more than i had put down as my goal! I would encourage anyone to take part in an event like this, even if you do not personally know anyone who has been affected by cancer. It is just a great feeling to get involved in an event like the Race for Life.

A big thank you to everyone who sponsored me and supported me!

If you would like to raise money or get involved with a cancer charity, i will link some websites below for you to check out!

Peace & Love,
ALEX






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