Monday, 2 December 2013

Both 10k's nailed!!


The race went well. Up at 4am, to load up on pre-race calories (that helped a lot during the race), before being picked up at 5am by my trainer Swee and Chris, her partner. The team walking with me were gathered by 6.15 and by 6.45 I was done with my warm up routine and we headed to the start line. We crossed the start around 7.30. The weather was exactly what I'd hoped for - cloudy, relatively cool and with some light rain thrown in half way through! The first 3km was really good, I was relaxed, my walking was smooth and the team did a great job of fending off the runners and entertaining me at the same time. Things got progressively harder over the next 4km, and Swee's support really started to count as she coached me to change gait frequently to help keep the tone under control. That worked and the eighth and ninth kilometres felt good, but I started to feel it after we passed the 9km mark and the course merged with the end of the half and full marathon. The last kilometre was very hard, as fatigue, tightness and spasticity started to take hold. That's when I brought to mind your messages of support, and your belief helped fuel mine. The last 50m was bit of a stagger to the finish line. I crossed it in 3 hr25. In dead last place! And delighted with that!!!

Sunday was a day of many PB's. My previous longest walk was 8.3km. Sunday was 10km …. or closer to 12 if you add on the walk from the car to the start and back again. I'd taken breaks in all my long training walks. On Sunday, I did the 10k without stopping. And from when we left the car to when we got back, I'd been standing for over 6 and a half hours. Typing that has brought home the huge progress I've made since I signed up for the race back in September - and of course the million miles I've come since June 2011.

I'd expected to be very emotional at the end of the race and since. But that's not come. Instead, I've found myself reflecting on what I learned, about myself and about my potential to go further. I always believed in my ability to finish, driven to the line by determination. But in the last few weeks I've had to face up to doubts and anxieties - about the distance, the crowds of people, the time it would take, the heat, the risk of falling (which as some of you know I've done occasionally the last few months, too often, sometimes painfully), the intensity of the neuropathic pain. I found myself feeling fear, in a way I haven't experienced before. But last week I founds ways to deal with it. That worked, and on Sunday I beat it. Another lesson learned on this journey - perhaps my biggest yet. 
Now to the fund raising. Take a deep breath. Right now, the total raised stands at £13,133. And that's not the end of it. I know there's quite a bit more to come, including from Max and Amy's class mates. A couple of weeks ago I went to school to speak to them about spinal cord injuries, paralysis and the work Spinal Research is doing to find a cure. The story left a big, positive impact. It feels really special to have the kids engaged like that. I'll find out later this week, but I expect the money that the kids will raise to take the donations well over £14,000.  

I pinch myself when I think of that number. The response to this has exhausted my vocabulary. When you flew past the original £5k target, I was overwhelmed. When you passed £7.5k, I genuinely felt humbled. Now I don't know what to say. I just want you to know that you have moved me very, very deeply. More importantly, that's a big boost to the work being funded by Spinal Research. I feel like we have made a big difference. That's a privilege, and something to celebrate.

I am absolutely delighted. And very proud.