Apart from a couple of niggles and a trip to the physio, my training had gone fairly well. I’d mostly stuck to my schedule of running three times per week for nine weeks. Whilst I go to yoga classes regularly and enjoy walking, I hadn’t done any vigorous exercise for years and my legs took a while to catch onto my new regime.
I can’t recommend the Couch to 5K programme highly enough for running novices like me. Week by week, the podcasts take you from an initial run of 60 seconds all the way up to running for 30 minutes non-stop. Something on Day 1, I wasn’t sure if I’d ever achieve.
The day I received my Amy May Trust t-shirt in the post, was also the day I was due to step-up from an 8- to 20-minute run. I proudly wore the t-shirt and thought of Amy and the reason I was attempting the challenge to keep me ploughing on. It certainly got me through and I felt very emotional by the end. My final training run, a few days before we left for Vegas, was 28 minutes, so I still had a little way to go to get to 5K.
On our first day in Sin City, we headed to the Race Expo. It was now official. I got my race number and the tag for my shoe and started to feel like a ‘real’ runner. On race day itself, we indulged in a hearty Vegas-style buffet lunch for extra energy. As soon as we’d got dressed in our kit and made our way to the start, I started to feel increasingly nervous. I just wanted to get going.
After a poignant moment of silence in memory of the attacks in Paris the night before, and then a rousing rendition of the Star-Spangled Banner, we were finally allowed to set off into the darkness. I carried a flashing-light stick in one hand, like many of the other runners, and we wound our way out of the park onto the streets of Vegas.
I found it tough going to start with, but seemed to pick up pace with each kilometer. The moon was overhead, mountains in the distance and we ran past such landmarks as the Circus Circus hotel, gentlemen’s clubs and gun clubs – not something I was used to seeing on my Cheltenham runs!
As I started to flag towards the end, I thought of Amy and, one-by-one, all the people that had supported me in my training. As the finish line closed-in, I put on a spurt of pace and sprinted over the line with a finish-time of 37 minutes. With jelly-like legs, I was delighted to receive my medal for completing the race. I was even more pleased to have run the whole race without stopping, which was my ultimate goal.
Thank you so much to everyone who has supported Amy and myself. It means so much, and I hope the money you have so kindly donated will make a real difference to Amy’s rehabilitation. I also hope, if you’re like me and have never been interested in the idea of running, that you too may be inspired to have a go at the Couch to 5K programme.