Our Race For Life Experience - Team Hope 2013

On Sunday 16th June 2013, Team Hope took part in the Race For Life in Chantry Park, Ipswich. Every single member of the 16-strong team, had their own personal reasons and goals for running the race; the majority of the team were new Mums who have had a baby within the last two years.

TOTAL RAISED FOR CANCER RESEARCH = £1,416.00 (as of 30/6/13)


Team Hope 2013

(from left to right) Lolu, Ally, Sarah, Bridget, Suzy, Angela, Vicki, Kellie, Sam, Tina, Laura, Jen (not in picture - Ali, Toni, Monika, Ann)

Here's our story....

Angela - Group Leader and mum to Jack (4) and Holly (2) A couple of my clients mentioned to me that one of their goals would be to do the Race For Life this year so I decided to set up Team Hope, to give people the support and motivation they needed to enter. I floated the idea to my friends on Facebook and before I knew it I had 16 team members. I was offering two free training sessions per week and all the support that anyone needed to get themselves round the 5k course in Chantry Park.

A point to note...a runner I am not! But as Team Hope was my big idea I had to get "match fit" before training started back in April. My personal goal was to run the 5k in under 30 minutes. When I last did RFL in 2006 I could not run the distance. The following year I completed the London Marathon. It was the best and worst experience of my life and I had not run since. Since the marathon I have had two children and I am 1 1/2 stone lighter now! Fortunately, as a personal trainer it is my job to keep fit so it only took me three training runs to be able to complete 5k.

The race took place on Father's Day, which was particularly poignant to me as it has been 20 years since I lost my own Father to cancer. Sadly, on 21st May this year, just three weeks before the race, I also lost my Mother-in-law to the disease.

We raised over £1000 for Cancer Research and every single member of Team Hope crossed the finish line. I am very proud of all my amazing ladies, especially as most of them were non-runners at that start.

Kellie - mum to Kimberley (11), Sophie (4) and Amelie (1) 9 weeks in which to learn how to run 5km! No way, was my first thought! I CAN'T RUN! I have tried to run in the past and could only manage a minute or so before my breathing caused me to stop. I could not get my breath and in turn that would hurt my chest so I would have to stop. I gave up essentially and used to stick with an incline walk on the treadmill. I've had two more children since I last tried to run and am around 1 stone heavier too so taking one look at Hope Fitness's plan, I was a daunted to say the least!

At first just running the the short interval of 1 minute brought back all the old feelings of 'I can't breathe, I can't do this' but this time I was determined to succeed, and that was assisted by the fact I was working with a group of similar minded ladies. None of us were runners and we were all in the same boat. When the going got tough we were there to push each other along just that little bit more.

As the running intervals increased, so did my confidence and belief that I could actually do this! I was out there 3 times a week pounding the streets in order to progress. Some days were easier than others, of course and I began to find a rhythm. For me it was not about pace, it was about going the distance. I was not the fastest runner and on days when I tried to keep up with the pace, those were the days that I did not have enough left in the tank to go the full distance. I soon learned to run at a pace that suited me and ensured I would finish and do what was being asked of me.

After 7 weeks I ran my first 5km with no stopping - that was a special day. Two days later I was off on an all-inclusive holiday - not ideal with Race Day only 3 weeks away! I packed my trainers and gym kit and vowed to use the treadmill at the resort to keep up the good work. Alas, with the heat I only managed 4km on my first attempt on my first week away, then in the second week only 3.4km! I overindulged and was eating all the wrong things so I knew coming back home and joining the group again would be hard having only managed two runs in two weeks.

Back home, 6 days before Race Day and my first day back with Team Hope. It was my first training session in the Chantry Park and I expected it to be tough. I managed to do 4.6km and was reasonably pleased with that effort. The following evening however, I then only managed 4.2km before I had to stop due to feeling quite sick. That was deflating. When analysing the statistics from my running App, it was clear that the reason I could only manage 4.2km was because I had just run some of my fastest times! Fastest km and fastest mile all clocked up within the first 2km's! Fatal error for me - I had tried to keep up with the pace and suffered in the latter stages..........

Determined to succeed on Race Day I planned a run 3 days before the Race and outside of Team Hope's training sessions to prove to myself that I could actually run 5km and get my confidence back. Unfortunately, I was not well that day and was in bed at 6pm! That was that! Race Day was next.

Not the greatest preparation for Race Day..........one of my girls came down with Chicken Pox two days before and was quite poorly with it. I was tired from lack of sleep as she had been awake a lot of the nights. I vowed that I would still compete but accepted if I had to walk some, I would have to walk some. The main aim was to finish

Armed with my iPod and a playlist created of motivational music I arrived at Chantry Park. Weather was ideal, a little cloudy, not too hot and a nice light breeze. To the start line we went. I can do this, I can do this.........

We're off! Nice and slow and steady I kept telling myself. Don't worry about anyone else, do what you are comfortable with. First 1km seemed to go quite quick. Then it seemed to take AGES................certainly on one 'hill' it helped with the crowd on the sideline to get me up it! No way was I going to start walking where they could see me! The 4km sign came around, with a steep hill right after it! This was not good. Legs were feeling it now and only half way up it. What to do? Had to make a quick decision. I could go the remaining 50m or so up the hill, but risk not being able to run the last 1km home, or take a quick recovery and walk the hill and start running at the top again. I went for the latter! I did not want to come down the home straight walking! The last 1km was a struggle. The sun had come out and it was warming up and I was beginning to feel a little sick. I dug deep, very deep, and refused to listen to those little bits of me saying 'I want to stop now'! Finish line approached, Yes! 33.32 as I crossed the line. I was very happy with that seeing as I had not completed a 5km distance in 3 weeks and that also included a little recovery walk on 'that' hill.

One week on from Race Day and I have been out twice since and run the whole 5km, plus had a PB on both occasions! I can do this now. 10 weeks ago I would have said 'never in a million years'. But, with the right dedication and motivation to succeed and a little bit of Hope (Fitness) YES, I CAN RUN!

Onwards and upwards.........next plan, lets try and increase the distance now and see if somewhere over the next few months I can get nearer to running a 10km!

Watch this space.........

Ali - mum to Noah (4) and Amelia (1) Confessions of a Fledgling Runner...

My reasons for doing Race for Life were simple - every year I see and hear of all those women raising money for such an important cause and I feel guilty that I'm not there to help and contribute. So this year when Angela suggested getting a team together it seemed silly not to do it. I needed to lose the last few pounds of baby weight and that day - a week after my daughter's 1st birthday - seemed to fit quite well.

I've been lucky, my life has been relatively untouched by cancer. I lost a very good friend to it when I was 21 but other than that (touch all the wood I can see) my experiences have not been those of people close to me. This didn't seem a reason not to do it but did make me feel strangely guilty on the day. So, my goal on was just to get round the 5k in one piece and hopefully raise a bit of money. I was not concerned about running a time or getting fitter so my training had been limp. I was acutely aware of having been really quite ill myself recently and not wanting to push too hard as well, as the fact that training coincided with my return to work and most of the time I was shattered. Having said all of this, 2 things happened in the weeks leading up to run day. One of my mum's good friends got diagnosed with breast cancer - she had her lumpectomy yesterday. And a lovely lady I mentored when she was training to teach told me that her teenage daughter had been diagnosed in March of this year. The very least I could do was to make a bloody good attempt at a measly 5k run!

On the day the whole family came, my sister was running it too and I don't see her very often so that was a fabulous bonus. The atmosphere was good, the actual sun came out and it wasn't all that bad. I didn't run the whole thing by any means and I didn't make a good time (41 minutes) but: my son ran the last 100 metres with me, I forgot that 4 year olds only have 1 speed - sprint; one of my students was the first to congratulate me when we crossed the line; the first thing my husband said was that he was proud of me and we raised a good amount or cash.

Well done Team Hope. I may not have been the best runner, or fund raiser, or team player but I'm glad I did it. I might even do it again next year.

Bridget - mum to Jessica (6) and Harry (4) So why did I join up for Team Hope Race for life 2013????

Well after 7 years of looking after my two children, self neglect of my own personal well being had resulted in me becoming unfit, unmotivated and as I described myself a SLUG!

My 92 year old Nan had recently died of cancer and as the race for life was on father’s day, it would get me out of the expected norm of entertaining the family whilst raising money for a great cause.

However, I hadn’t ran in over 20 years, had last formally exercised 8 years ago, was an asthmatic with an Achilles heal injury – hardly a prime candidate to become a runner.

The first training session on 15th April came and went as I was at work, so my training began on 18th April. By this point I had ditched my poor eating habits, purchased a pair of trainers (as I didn’t own a pair) and got a sports bra, just as Angela had instructed.

The first few sessions were hard, as I clearly had some physical effects of having had two children.

The pace increased slowly, as did my ability and passion for running. Kellie Thorndyke became my running buddy and we enjoyed completing our additional weekly runs together.

Kellie had an extra aim, to become race 5km ready before her holiday at the end of May, so we pushed ourselves along at a slightly accelerated pace, at times stretching the plan!

By mid May we managed a nonstop 25 minute run, followed by our first nonstop 5km just in time for Kellie’s holiday.

With my running buddy away I had to be self motivated. I pushed myself hard and began to run faster – it felt good, I felt fit, had lost weight and mentally my family announced I was a nicer person to live with!

On 2nd June, I enjoyed a fantastic run with Angela at our Kesgrave run venue, two days after our first visit to Chantry Park, the home for our Race For Life, where we discovered bugs and hills – both made running much more difficult.

My running was going well, the only problem was my pace – I was going too fast and I was struggling to control it; my legs and brain had a different pace to my lungs!

After two more training sessions in Chantry Park, we still had no idea of the route and my pace was still a problem.

Sunday 16th June arrived, I felt nervous, and I had been labelled one of the fastest by our team – NO PRESSURE!

The race started and I took off, like I was trying to keep up with Usain Bolt! I don’t know what happened, but I felt anxious, I needed to get away from all these people. I darted, weaved, and ran through long grass to get away. Finally I had my own space- phew- my Nike running reported I had reached 1km in 4.39minutes! That was a crazy speed, I was hot and I needed to slow down. By

2.5KM I was exhausted and I had to walk for bit, then I ran again, then I walked again- damn- I’d messed up.

Mentally I was a wreck, how stupid I had been? going off too quickly and now I wondered if I’d make it to the end. I’d let myself and everybody else down. How cocky I had been the week before, downloading a 10km training plan when I was struggling to complete 5km today!

Then a voice behind me said “come on Bridget, let’s run a steady pace. It was Sam (Strutt) from our team. I got myself together and kept by her side. She was my lifesaver and paced me through to the end. It was running almost all the way to the end, except the steep hill near the cricket pavilion, and then it was only a few steps. I knew the last 500m sign was coming up as I’d seen it as I’d entered the park that morning, where was Sam? Just a few steps behind me – let’s do this. We reached the smooth tarmac path and I could see the finish line, what had Angela said? SPRINT! Go on, you can do this I thought as I pushed hard, I looked up and as I crossed the finish line and I saw 29minutes something on the clock, it didn’t matter, I’d finished. My medal, water and brioche were shoved at me, I found a patch of grass and flopped, sweating, exhausted, where were the others? I’d finished first! Closely followed by Sam and one by one the whole team finished. We had all achieved so much.

A final team photo and a thank you gift for Angela. We all owed her so much, a shy leader who was reluctant to take any praise, but without her idea, her plan and her support, I for one would have never considered running, let alone completing the Race for Life 2013!

So what’s next ..........?

A hog run, 10km race and most importantly I hope, Hope Runners? I love running and feel I am addicted to it and I hoping it continues to pay an important part in my weekly routine for the foreseeable future.

Ann - mum to Joshua (4) and Callum (10 months) I knew that this would be a challenge as I started out a very unfit forty something mum, having done little or no exercise in the last 6 years. I was concerned that my asthma and weak ankles could hinder my progress, having been problems in the past.

I managed to keep up with the rest of the team over the first few weeks of training but as we each learnt our own pace and rhythm it became obvious mine was considerably slower. The rest of the group had also split into the 'Hares' and the 'Tortoises'. I therefore nicknamed myself 'The snail'. But over the next few weeks I found that I could run for longer than required when warm - up to 20 minutes, while the others ran 10.

Right from week 2 my ankles were no problem but my knees caused lots of discomfort, I had to ice pack them after each run, I couldn't kneel properly for 3 weeks. Tubigrips just rolled down so I tried Vetrap (used on animal bandages). Angela then suggested I try Glucosamine supplements, it was brilliant! Within a week my knees felt better, although still needing support.

From week 6 I worked on building my speed by adding 1 minute bursts at the end of each running section. This messed up my overall performance and stamina and therefore went back to my slow speed. I ran 10 mins running/2 mins walking from then on. A great improvement from where I had started and my asthma was less and less of a concern. On race day I felt good and prepared, I had good stamina and remained consistent all the way round, finishing in 41 minutes with a super sprint finish!

I am now a runner! And I love it! Thank you Angela, I am fitter than I have been in years and raised a great amount of money in the process.

Ally - aunty to Jack (4), Thomas (2), Holly (2) and Rebekah (1) When Angela suggested that she would like a group of us should do Race For Life I didn't have to think twice about raising money for such a good cause which is very close to my heart. My goal was to run (or rather jog) Race For Life which was a big challenge for someone who can't even run for 1 minute without stopping!! However with Angela's well organised, achievable training sessions I was able to complete this challenge (well nearly)!

Angela provided fantastic advice and shared her stories about training for the marathon which made me realise that all the problems I was trying to overcome were things that she herself had also battled with. The team really supported and inspired each other, and it didn't matter if you were fast or slow. I found the actual race a real challenge due to the hills, I needed to do more training on that kind of terrain.

Angela has managed to inspire somebody who never thought she'd never take up running to take it up. Thank you Angela.