The long and winding road was the St. Clare 10k I did yesterday. I had everything planned the night before the race, went to bed early and in my head I went through my race plan and how I was going to execute it. When I woke up on Sunday morning I had my usual nerves but managed to get a few spoonfuls of porridge down. Mothers Day again and I'm in my racing chair again. One day I'll manage to have a lie in on Mothering Sunday and get breakfast in bed!
I got to the venue in good time but as I was pumping up my tyres I realised that the left one was leaking. PANIC!! I had to fit a brand new tyre in less than 15 minutes and there was no one around to help me. I managed to pull a man from the crowd who helped me stretch the tyre to fit. In the process of pumping it up the loudspeaker was announcing for the runners to make their way to the start line. Wheelchair racers normally start a few minutes beforehand so I knew I would have no time to warm up.
On the start line the whistle blew and off we went! What was going through my head was that I would have to be careful because I hadn't warmed up, and the last thing I needed was to go really hard and get an injury. At this point my race plan flew out of the window and I'm already thinking what I could do to complete the race safely and also get a good position. My first 5K I felt good though I was taking it carefully because there were a few twists and turns in the course, and more than a few potholes! This reminded me of Australia in 2007 and the terrible crash I had just 200m from the finish line of the 10K and how that injury cost me Beijing.
The second half of the race was a killer and this is where mental toughness overcomes physical toughness. As I came closer to the finish line my hands felt like jelly but the crowd really helped to carry me across the finish line with their loud applause and cheers. I was the first wheelchair home. Great achievement is usually born out of great sacrifice.
I was racing in a t shirt that was provided by the RESULTS charity, an organisation that is trying to end poverty but as I looked around the grounds of the St Clare Hospice and saw people, some very young, whose lives were almost over, it really touched my heart, and the 10K was nothing in comparison to that.