A couple of weeks ago I told the world, or the couple of hundred people who read my post, that I have a condition called scoliosis; curvature of the spine. My condition (really need to think of a better way of describing it) was so severe that surgery was the only option to prevent the curve from rendering me wheelchair bound at an early age. Despite the surgery being a success, there was still a real possibility that I would not lead a particularly active life going into my 30’s. However, thankfully I’ve proven that prediction wrong. The main point of my previous post was that despite my scoliosis and prediction of an inactive life, I had just signed up for my first 10k race, and would be running it in just over a week’s time. Well, that period has now passed and I’m so happy to say that I’ve completed my first 10k race in a pretty respectable time of 56:58, and finished 318th out of the 468 who completed the course. So freakin’ happy.
The race I’d chosen for my inaugural 10k was the Bannockburn 701 10km race, mainly as it is local to me and was soon; signing up meant I couldn’t back out of doing it and the close proximity between sign up and race date meant I had to commit to training – something I only kinda stuck to. There was also the lucky coincidence that the race happened to be in the month of June which, unbeknownst to me until after I signed up, is #ScoliosisAwarenessMonth; I had no idea there was such a thing. Therefore I started tweeting about my run using the #RunningWithScoliosis hashtag as I felt it was quite appropriate with my first race falling in Scoliosis Awareness Month.
The race itself was fantastic and I set a Personal Best time over 10k, beating my previous best from training by about one minute. That said, it was not always an easy run as about the first 5k or so was pretty much all uphill at varying gradients. Still, I had been warned about this from the race organisers Run4It when I went to collect my race number, and again on the start line by a friend who was also running and had ran the course last year. My decision to skip hill sprints in training now didn’t seem like such a good idea. Despite the impending doom of running up hill for so long, I couldn’t wait to get started and I’m pretty sure I got through the first 2k on pure adrenaline. It wasn’t until about maybe 4k in that the constant climb began to take its toll and I was longing for a wee bit of flat road to run. To clarify, the incline wasn’t particularly steep for the most part, just constant.
At the half way point I checked my watch for the first time, 29:58. To put that into perspective, the race winner would cross the finish line just over a minute and a half later. But time was not my main concern, pushing on and getting to the end was. At the 6.5k mark, I think, I heard one of the marshals say “Keep going, after the next left it’s all downhill from here.” Music to my ears. From there on in I felt good, relaxed, and comfortable with my running. I was keeping a decent pace, decent for me anyway, and really appreciated the words of encouragement coming from the spectators and latterly, fellow participants who had finished before me. Just before the 9k mark, and just at the right moment, I got the perfect boost to kick me up a gear as I spotted my partner, our daughter, my partners dad and her brother cheering me on from the side of the road. It’s great to hear people you don’t know encouraging the runners to keep going, but to see someone come out to support you and you alone is a pretty amazing feeling. I used that as motivation to step up the pace for the final km and even managed a sprint finish to end the race.
Crossing the finish line, even in 318th position, will always rank up there regardless of what I achieve in the rest of my life. The strange tired yet elated buzz will also stay with me for a while yet.
Now that I’ve got my first race out the way and I’m feeling good after it, it’s safe to say I’ve got the bug to do more. However, having made such a big deal about #RunningWithScoliosis I’ve decided that I will use future races to fund raise for scoliosis research, spinal wards, and other scoliosis related good causes. It’s a condition – that word again – that I’ve lived with for at least the last 17 years since my diagnosis and while it’s not always easy, I do think I’ve been extremely fortunate that the end outcome has not been a lot worse. For example, I lead pretty much a normal life and some of my closest friends only found out that there was anything ‘wrong’ with me after reading my last post. Therefore, I’d like to use my ability to #RunWithScoliosis to help those who can’t.
I don’t have a next race lined up yet, I think I’ll take a week or so to let my legs and base of my spine – always my worst area post exercise – get back to feeling like normal first before signing up for the next event; but there will be other 10k’s, and hopefully I can use them to help benefit those who have been less fortunate than myself.
As always, comments welcome.