Brain Tumour Research, Dreaming Spires, Oxford City, Oxford Half Marathon, Runners World Magazine, Sponsorship
Wednesday 12 October.
The week before my very first attempt at a long-distance running event is slowly passing and now, on Wednesday, the week is half over, and the weekend is looming large. Yesterday Liz and I drove into Oxford to do some shopping, and at the sight of someone running through the streets a wave of nerves ran through me.
My journey to this point began way back in 2020 with the arrival of Covid 19 in the UK. With lockdown conditions becoming ever more severe it became necessary, indeed essential, to get out into the open air whenever possible. Our eldest daughter had said that she wanted to run, because one of her best friends did, so together we started using a Couch-2-5K app to help us along. My target, if I had one, was to complete a Park Run event at some stage, as my sister Nicky and brother Ian had done previously, but the thought of running a distance of 5k seemed completely out of my league as I struggled to keep going for the minute or so that the app suggested at the beginning of the programme. Little by little, however, things began to get easier and there was a moment of supreme pride when I managed to run the 5k, a little over three miles, without stopping, for the first time (I never did attend a park run, but at least the distance was achieved).
And so, it continued, and the distances that I was able to achieve went up, and the exhaustion went down. I ran 5 miles, then 6, then 8 and 10, and I began to feel a bit like a runner, although I never felt that I truly compared to those committed folk that pound the pavements every day in their expensive shoes and reflective glasses, and who stop their watches as they pause for cars to pass at an intersection, so as not to skew a potential PB.
In April my sister-in-law Sheila died as a result of a brain tumour, and I really wanted to do something to help the cause of other families in the same situation and try to raise some money towards the ongoing research into the condition. Sheila’s husband Martin had undertaken a charity cycle ride on behalf of Brain Tumour Research so I decided to donate to the same cause, except I didn’t have an event in mind. In a moment of perfect synchronicity, it was at this time that I happened to receive a Facebook notification suggesting that I enter the Oxford Half Marathon, and I followed the link to be told that I would have to enter a ballot. Well, this was perfect! I could tell all and sundry that I had entered and would be fundraising, and then sorrowfully inform everyone that I hadn’t been selected and I would try again next year – then I got the notification that the buggers had accepted me! I was committed.
In life I always need a strong motivation to spur me into action, for example I will often take a booking for a show that I have not yet written, which forces me to get on and create it before the deadline of walking onto an empty stage and facing an audience of expectant people – the thought of being unprepared for them focusses the mind wonderfully. So it was with my running, I somehow had to get myself to a level to run 13.1 miles.
Regular readers will know that I have been training over the last few weeks, and apart from a few niggling injury worries, I have managed to complete my goal…almost…in that on my last long run I stopped at 13 miles, meaning that when I complete the event itself (0.1 of a mile longer), I am assured of a personal best time.
Why am I nervous? It is not about the running, because I know that I can do that. Of course, on Sunday I might pull a muscle. turn an ankle or feel unwell, but I know that I CAN do it. My nerves are much more to do with never having done an event like this before and not knowing how it all works – what do I do on the day, how will it feel mingling with all of the other competitors? Will it be obvious where to leave my bag, and how will the run feel with crowds lining the route? I am used to running alone and being able to control my pace, so will I be able to restrain myself in a crowd of other runners? How will I feel seeing large signs and banners marking the miles, will seeing a 7- mile board create negative feelings as I realise that I still have 6.1 miles still to go? The answer to all of this is ‘I don’t know’, but in less than a week I will have all of the answers for you.
The event organisers have sent a comprehensive pack with all of the details of the day in it, so some of the logistics are clearer to me now and I have no doubt that the other runners will be helpful and encouraging. I have my number (1391) and have details of an app that tracks my progress, so everyone can follow along. There are also photographers along the route and their pictures will be published in real time – again there is a website that anyone can log onto, to view the images.
It is now down to me. On Sunday. At 9.30 am. There is only one thing left to do: to run.
To donate to my sponsorship Brain Tumour Research fund please visit my JustGiving Page at:
To track my progress, download the LimeLight Sports Club app on Apple or Android and select Oxford Half Marathon and enter my number (1391)
To view the images, go to Marathon Photos Live: https://marathonphotos.live/
The next time I write will be with the full story of my first running event.