I've run a few 5K Race for Life events before with my sister and with friends but never thought I could manage any further than that. For some reason I don't really know, I decided this year I wanted a bit more of a challenge and had this mad idea that I might try for a 10K. I didn't think I'd be able to manage it by myself though. After all, that's just over 6 miles and I'd literally never run more than the 3 miles required for a 5K, and some of those I've done walking. And then I signed up for it anyway!
And here comes the personal plea. The point of Race for Life is to raise money for Cancer Research. This is a charity which is significant for me, because I lost my mother to cancer in 2010. The date of my local 10K Race for Life happened to be my Mum's birthday. That was it - I had to sign up for it in her memory. She was a knitter too, both hand- and machine-knitting. One of the sounds that will always take me back to my childhood is the sound of the carriage of a knitting machine being pulled back and forth, back and forth. I remember the woolly smell of the cones of wool she used with the machine, the fun of making up designs on punch cards, and the gentle tick tick tick of her knitting needles when we sat together on the sofa. Two of the most significant projects I ever knitted were the two I finished for her after her diagnosis. She had always knitted for me and my sister and our many cousins when we were children. Once we started having families of our own, she returned to the baby knits again. She had started making cardigans for two of my cousins' children for Christmas that year, but the cancer was in her bones and it became too painful for her to knit before they were finished. It was a bittersweet honour for me to finish them off for her. One just needed button bands and stitching together. The second was only half the back when it came to me but I picked up from where she had left off and our tensions were so similar that even I, who knew where the different knitters' work joined, couldn't see the change. The children got their gifts from their great-aunt for Christmas, even though she'd had help to get them finished.
My Mum would have thought I was crazy to be running 6 miles. She was not one of life's runners! She loved to walk, but I remember on family walks my Dad striding ahead while Mum, all 4'11" of her with short legs, would call after him "It's a walk, not a route march!". But run? No!
I'm sure she'd have been proud of my knitting and of my commitment to the running though. It is one of my regrets that I didn't start designing for several years after she died, because I'd have loved to share my designs with her and I'm sure she would have been interested and supportive of them.
If you would like to sponsor me for this event, you can find my Cancer Research UK fundraising page here. If you're a UK taxpayer, you can Gift Aid your sponsorship at no extra cost to yourself.
I've been training since I signed up in March. To begin with, I could still only run three miles, then I found I could manage four or even four and a half. It's tricky because, with two small children and a husband who works long hours and unpredictable shifts, I can only get out to run once or twice a week. Then suddenly I found my cardiovascular fitness had really improved and I managed to run a full 6 miles. It was hard, really hard, but having broken that 6-mile barrier I know I will be able to run the 10K on the day. I'd really like to be able to do it in less than an hour but since I'm averaging about 10.5 minutes per mile I'm not sure I'm going to do that. If I run the whole course, though, I'll be happy.