OK so a slightly longer break than I promised - oops - but life is hectic (in a good way :))
We were all rather apprehensive due to the utterly dismal weather which is making it feel more like winter than the end of summer, but I was determined to complete the course no matter how hard it was bucketing with rain; I even brought my spotty brolly along just in case. Due to a) a lack of time b) a lack of imagination and c) the fact I wanted to wear it again, I was once more donned in my bright pink fairydresswithsparklesandeverything. On arrival we trudged across the muddy field to the CF Stand, where we were supposed to meet the other CF angels. Due to cold weather and slight disorganisation this year, we managed to miss most of the other Angels but a small group of us did manage to head towards the starting line together.
As always, I was totally over excited. I love the day at Hyde park; it’s the only opportunity you get to see other CFers and CF supporters (outdoors being the lowest risk) and it’s just so nice to be able to wave to the people who support you constantly, through virtual means, but the support is no less real. I was bouncing round chirping at everyone (on reflection it was possibly a tad too early in the morning to be so awake) and whooping so much I was in danger of wearing myself out before the race even started.
After posing for a few pics and chatting to the lovely CF Trust people manning the stall, we headed for the start line. Well actually, being in the slowest group (there was no way I was going to try and imagine I could run the whole thing and hold all the proper runners up by being in the wrong category) we were about half a kilometre back from the start line, and we weaved our way amongst thousands of other brightly coloured ladies, all eager to get started. I’ve said so before but I just love this day so much – the human spirit it brings out is inspirational to witness. People running for friends, for family, for those fighting illness, for those lost, everyone together, wanting to spur each other on and wanting to cross that finish line.
We finally crossed the start line 20 minutes after the start gun had gone off (and amusingly 5 minutes after the winner had completed the course) and with much whooping and cheering we were on our way. We set off at quite a pace, jogging past others, but I quickly felt my lack of diaphragm kick in. Actually I must admit I did not train nearly enough, but my stamina is now quite good, my ability to speed up remains about the same as a year ago. Consequently I lost my puff quite early on but was determined not to slow down past a strong powerwalk. As others moved forward to keep to their own pace, my mummy and sisters stayed by my side and we marched swiftly on, me grasping my mum’s hand and pursing my lips hard (just like I was taught at the Brompton – I hope my physios would be proud!)
I knew we were definitely moving faster than we had done a year ago, and each K marker we passed boosted my confidence that bit more. At times I found it a bit frustrating; I feel so well now and feel like I could just run, but need to accept that my body can’t do everything and running is one of the things it still struggles with. Due to the hideous weather, there were very few people marking the route to cheer us on, however those there were shouting encouragement and you could see the affect it had, everyone definitely moved quicker past groups of supporters than they did at quieter parts of the course.
We continued to weave our way along, power walking and jogging intermittently, and I was beginning to get very hot and sweaty (will choose to ignore any suggestions that inappropriate clothing played any part in this). Suddenly I recognised a hill ahead and realised we were nearly at the point at which I got out of my wheelchair to walk two years ago. We quickened our pace and as the final corner came into view, broke into a run. I could feel my heart thudding in my chest as my lungs tried to keep up with my enthusiasm, and as if realising I was struggling, my family grabbed my hands and we ran forward in a line. I was gasping (and fairly dizzy) as the finish came into view but crossed it at almost exactly 53 minutes.
53 minutes!! I couldn't believe it. I was hoping to come in around the hour but that is way better than I imagined. And even more importantly it was a struggle, and I wanted it to be a challenge as, well, otherwise I can’t really justify asking for sponsorship! Overjoyed and exhausted, we headed back to the CF Trust stand to congratulate fellow runners. Unfortunately the weather was just far too cold for a picnic, so we returned home fairly swiftly.
My legs have been aching like anything since but ohmygoodness I love that feeling! It’s as if I did something real and sporty (I can pretend can’t I?!) and even better my lungs feel fine and did do within minutes of me stopping. I think I will always do the Hyde Park 5k, every year, for as long as I can, because it was my first ever race and because it will always remain so dear to my heart as witness of my transformation into a new life with new lungs.