Signing up for a marathon is great motivation to start running and get fit for the summer. Otherwise I would probably just sit at home and scarf down on Jaffa Cakes while watching Dragons Den re-runs on YouTube. Luckily I have had experience in training for the odd sporadic running event here and there. I did a 5K two summers ago (I thought I was going to die!) and a 10K last summer (I nearly died!), so the obvious (and unfortunate…*gulp*) next step was going to be the dreaded half marathon. So when the opportunity presented itself to take part in the Richmond 13.1, I jumped at the chance. No, really I did….OK, OK. So I didn’t “jump at” as much as I “jumped away”, but that’s just details. Anyway, I was ready for the challenge. Not just because the thought of running 21 kilometres seemed to me like carrying a bus full of hippopotamus’s up Mount Everest twice, but I also knew it was for a good cause that needed our help. The way I see it, no one should go a day without the safety and warmth of a place they can call home. The four walls that we decorate and sleep behind every night is our personal little kingdom, and it’s a shame that some don’t have that small luxury which we often take for granted. So I knew the real challenge was getting others to see things the way I see them.
I managed to get some people involved, including my crazy sister from Scotland and my boyfriend whose love for me is stronger than his aversion for running (I’ve only seen him run once, and it was after an ice cream van). Nonetheless, we rallied together and trained rigorously for about 2 months before the race. Yes, I said race. Knowing that my sister runs every day, up and down hills in Edinburgh, I had to train like I’ve never trained before. It was on!
OK, so that might be a little bit of an exaggeration as well. Not about my sister though, she really is some super human running machine. I think she might be part gazelle. I would’ve liked to have trained “rigorously”, but what can I say….Dragons Den isn’t going to watch itself now is it? Either way, I think we did well with our training. By the time the day of the marathon came, we all felt confident that this was going to be an amazing experience. We weren’t even worried about whether we can make it. We knew we could. So we really set out to have a great day of fun.
I remember in the days coming up to the event, we were blessed with a sudden heat wave across London and the weather looked set to last until the weekend of the race. This was perfect and just what we needed coming out of those cold and rainy training days over the Christmas period. The only problem was that the weatherman was obviously back on the drink or thought it would be hilarious to give the completely opposite weather report to what actually happened. The morning of the race, standing in this great park in my lycra shorts, I nearly froze to death. I just wanted to start running so I could find that weather guy and hunt him down. Grrr! Never mind I said to myself, nothing was going to break our steel hearted spirit. We had trained for this. Just stick to the training plan we said…through chattering teeth.
Luckily we had some more support as a few friends showed up to do the 10k wearing our fashionable SPEAR t-shirts (I am still trying to get them back!). Let’s not forget about SPEAR staff and volunteers who made sure we knew which direction to run. This was a massive confidence boost. It was great to see so many people come together in aid of different causes, and I was so happy that a few of us were trying to make a difference in fighting homelessness. By the time everyone started running I was just so glad to be surrounded by people who care, the cold weather was the last thing on my mind. From there on we just went from strength to strength and the whole event went by like a breeze. The sky even cleared up and shone a bit of sunshine down on us as we were crossing the finish line. All in all it was a great day and everyone enjoyed the atmosphere, the woodland scenery of Richmond Park, the Thames on by our side leading us along and best of all the beer in the pub after the event. Actually no, scratch that, the best part was lying down for a few hours (yes, I was dying!) wearing my beautiful medal. Without a doubt we’ll be doing it again next year, for SPEAR and the people who struggle with homelessness. Oh, and yes…I let my sister win.
Sylwia Szydlowska, Resettlement Worker