Well, I did it last year, I said I was going to do it this year, and now it’s done! Yes folks, the Cancer Research UK’s 5km Race for Life 2007 has been and gone and I (person voted Least Likely Ever to Run a Race in high school) have completed it for the second year running. And I can still walk unassisted 😉
I just wanted to let you know how it went and to thank each and every one who sponsored us VERY MUCH for your generosity. Between us we have raised over £1000 for cancer research! I’m gobsmacked! And if anybody was waiting to see if we actually completed the race before they donated, or if you were so amused by the pics of sweaty, make-upless me & Lisa that you want to donate more (!), it’s not too late. The sponsorship page is still open until the end of next week – so get those credit and dedit cards out! Any amount, however small will do…
As I mentioned, more and more people in my life have been affected by cancer over the past few years, most notably my half-sister who died from a particularly virulent brain tumour in 2003, and my beautiful friend Christelle who lost the battle against cervical cancer a week before Christmas 2005. She was not yet 30. And this year, my beloved sister-in law Paola’s sister Gail was diagnosed with breast cancer and is now undergoing chemotherapy after a mastectomy in May. So when the Race for Life 2007 dates started being advertised, I didn’t think twice about signing up. But hey, why suffer alone, so I also enlisted three friends of mine to run with me: Olwen, Lisa and Iliana (whose husband Adam had surgery for skin cancer in 2005).
In the end, only three of our team members raced (Iliana’s doctor banned her from running in the last week before the race) and the weather running up to race day was hugely unpromising, with rain predicted for the day itself. Drat – too late to pull out now!! But the day dawned dry, if a little grey and humid at the start) and at 10h00 Lisa, Olwen and I showed up, all bright-eyed and bushy tailed, at Blackheath to race. There were an amazing 7000 women running in our race alone and this was only one of dozens such races throughout the country taking place all through summer! To start off there was a bit of an aerobics warm-up co-ordinated from the stage (just enough to make you wonder how you survived the endless aerobics of the 80s, being yelled at by a thin woman in a leotard to a thumping disco beat) and then at 10h30 we were herded into two groups – the runners and the walkers. Bravely, given the amount of serious training I had managed to fit in this year, we headed for the runners section which set off first.
Don’t get me wrong – when I say run, it’s more of a slow jog because there are just too many people to run properly, but this suited us very well!! Olwen had a couple of other friends running and, after running with us initially, streaked off with them and finished in just under 35 minutes. Lisa Baird and I took
things at a more leisurely pace and jogged along together. One of the best things about the race for me is that you run along and read other women’s backsigns. These are signs that you get together with your race number in your competitor’s pack and that each competitor can customise with text and pictures to say who they are running for. And when you run as slowly as we did you have a lot of time to read them all! Some were terribly poignant – there was one girl in front of us who was running "for my friend Brigitte, who passed away on 7 July 2007" which was really sobering. On our backsigns, Lisa and I had Gail (see the last picture): I had threatened to make her famous and I was as good as my word 😉
The race venue was quite different to the Maidstone park where I raced last year: last year was hilly and this year was flat (good); but last year had lots of trees and shade and this year had none (bad, because when the sun came out the clammy humidity soared). Probably because of the flatness, I managed to run more of the course and walk less than last year – I really only walked the km between the 3 and 4km marks because I had stitch and was getting hot and grumpy! And even then, Lisa was astonished to see that I can walk fast enough to keep up with people who are jogging! But overall it went very well and Lisa and I finished in 40 minutes – a little hot and sweaty as you can see from the "after" pic, but very pleased with ourselves. After a few minutes of resting on our laurels, we dilligently did our stretches and then went off to find Olwen and her friends. From there, we made our weary way home to a long hot bath, the Sunday papers and a lazy afternoon after a job well done.
And from there, we made a beeline for The Railway pub in Blackheath village for a celebratory Sunday lunch (well, food had to feature somewhere in this post, didn’t it?!) and a few gin & tonics. If you are in the Blackheath vicinity on a Sunday, you can do worse than the Railway. It is a cool and relaxed space which never felt particularly crowded and it has a small but nice menu on Sundays, including the Sunday roast which had led Olwen to recommend the place. Service was astonishingly fast and efficient, and within 10 minutes of ordering the whole table of 6 had their food. I had chosen beer-battered fish with chips and mushy peas while Nick had gone for the roast (as had almost everyone else at the table!). The fish was seaspray-fresh and the batter delightfully crispy and not oily. The chips were fat, homemade and nicely seasoned, and even the mushy peas (still a cultural mystery to me) were tasty. The Sunday roasts, however, took the cake. Generous slices of lamb, fragrant mint sauce, lashings of vegetables and a huge chunk of Yorkshire pudding. It was all I could do to keep my fork out of Nick’s plate! I would love to go back, particularly to try their lamb burger which is, sadly, not available on Sundays.
And Gail – if you’re reading this, I hope that we brought a smile to your face.
For a few more pictures, check out my Flickr album of the race day.