A gingerbread man mysteriously appeared on my desk a while ago (just after the boss got back from camp… I love my job).
Yesterday I woke with a funny feeling in my tummy. At first I thought it was the margaritas and tequila shots from the night before, but then I realised, no, it was because of my run.
Saturday was Julia’s birthday. Julia is a resident volunteer here at Pax Lodge and is one week older than me. She’s from Argentina and is awesome, not just at creating things (she works in design), but as a person. After dinner we presented her with her gift and card and brought out the cake Garry had made earlier in the day (Garry’s our weekend chef. He’s from the Philippines and is really cute). We sang Happy Birthday and then… Maia asked to have a word with me. I followed her into the hallway and had to stop myself from laughing when she told me the news (after earthquake updates all day, I was feeling quite nervous): Susan had gone to the train station to catch the Eurostar to Paris. But she’d forgotten her passport.
I rang a taxi and waited for it to arrive, texting Susan and trying not to laugh, as she was quite worried that she’d miss her train. The taxi arrived at King’s Cross-St Pancras eleven minutes before her train was due to leave. I handed her the passport. She handed me £20. I told her to run and she ran.
When I got back to Pax Lodge, I enjoyed the piece of cake they’d set aside for me (delicious!) and went to find Julia, Morgan, Kay, Maribeth and Mary-Anne. We were headed for the Mexican place near Victoria station: Loco Mexicano. The place was packed when we arrived but we were seated promptly and immediately offered free shots (“Sambucca or Tequila?”) thanks to Morgan being gorgeous and Fernando the bartender having a crush on her.
A number of margarita pitchers and tequila shots later, we all put in our money, said goodbye to the bar staff (with a little dancing on the way), were told we were £10 short (despite Mary-Anne having counted the £120 payment three times already), paid up again and left, Julia happily, but not-quite-stumblingly drunk, Kay bemused, Mary-Anne in charge, Maribeth and Morgan giggling, and me… I’m not sure how I was. I was neither drunk nor sober, but I was happy, and that’s what counts.
Apparently Julia slept on her floor that night, not wanting to be too far from the sink. I slept wonderfully, with strange dreams I can’t remember well enough to put on my dream journal blog. And then I awoke with butterflies.
I got dressed in my bright orange Bobath Centre t-shirt, had a healthy breakfast and packed my bag for the day: warm clothes for afterwards, water, instructions for finding the rest of the Bobath team, sandwiches, fruit and salad, cell phone, book, money… and remembered my Oyster card at the last minute.
By the time I’d finished my breakfast, my tummy had settled and I was full of energy, excited for my run. It felt good to be going to do some exercise, and knowing it was for a good cause.
I tubed to South Kensington station, not realising it was a little further from Hyde Park than my map suggested, but meeting a lot of other women on the way who were taking part in the run, too. When I finally got to Hyde Park just before 9.30, I was pleased that clouds had covered the sun, as it had been way too hot earlier. It took me a while to find the Bobath team, but I eventually spotted two girls in t-shirts just like mine, and they told me where to meet. There were three women who work at the centre there, dressed in orange, ready to run, another, Sarah, who stayed to look after our bags while we ran, Kevin, the fundraising manager, who was taking photos, Liz, a woman with cerebral palsy who has benefitted from Bobath’s work, and who would be doing the course in her wheelchair, and a couple of teachers from a local school along with a bunch of their students. The girls were all very excited and I chatted with everyone while we waited for things to start. Just after 10 we took a group photo…
… and went to join in the warm-up. At around 25 to start-time, everyone (all 16,000-ish of us) headed for the start line. The celebrities and elite runners were at the front, followed by those who expected to finish in 20-25 minutes. I put myself in the pool two back from that, 30-35 minutes. I was hoping to beat half an hour, but I’d not done any training.
I crossed the starting line about 35 seconds after the horn went off. The first km took 5 minutes. At the 2k mark I looked at my watch and 15 minutes had elapsed since the start. I found I didn’t even realise when I got slower and slower, but every now and then I’d push myself to go faster, keep up with that girl, pass that person, race myself to the next marker. The adidas cheerleaders were awesome, yelling for everyone, which kept a smile on my face and helped me speed up when I was jogging at a walking pace.
At four places throughout the course there were bands playing – a quartet, a metal drum group, an african drumming circle, drum drum drumming and making me feel happy even as the sweat dripped off my chin. People lined the edges of the course with plastic clappers, banners, balloons; it was a fun day out. At the last bend, when the finish line came into view, people seemed to pour past from behind me and I wanted so much to put on a sprint for the end, but my legs and lungs were having none of it. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t go any faster.
As I crossed the finish line, the clock said 35:38.
Although the first long run I’ve done in a long time, this was not my first run ever. In February 2008, I ran 22km: the Anakiwa Outward Bound half marathon. I had ruined knees. I’d never run more than 40 minutes before in my life. It was impossible – and yet, I did it. And so the slogan on the back of the t-shirt in my adidas goodie-bag yesterday, Impossible is Nothing makes sense.
This was not a mentally challenging run, like the half-marathon; it was physically hard, but 5 minutes after I’d stopped running, it seemed like a good idea to do it again. I didn’t, because I knew the moment I started, I’d want to stop, and I wanted to end on a high note.
I met good people. I had a good run. I felt good. I have a medal that I’m overly proud of.
You can see some of the photos Kevin took on Bobath’s facebook page.
The beginning of this story will lead me to the next thing I intend to blog about: community and books. I was at the library one day: Hampstead Library, next to Keats’ House, where John Keats spent many years writing his poetry. On the community noticeboard, I saw a poster that said “Run for us.” The poster told about the Bobath Centre’s work, about how they help children to live the kind of lives that seem impossible for them, but that I take for granted. Most of the kids in their therapy programmes would love to be able to run five kilometres, but physically can’t. I knew I had to do it.
So far I’ve raised £85. My goal is £100. I’ll be collecting money until the end of the month. You can donate here.