I didn’t agree to the Supernova lightly, as the idea of pushing 5k felt like my marathon. It was actually my sister who suggested I sign up for the Supernova in the first place. As part of the fundraising team, she was recruiting participants and asked if I would consider doing it. I wanted to help but didn’t see the point in agreeing to something that I thought I couldn’t do. I’d noticed how long 5k felt when in the car, and I was very unconvinced that I was capable of pushing so far. I was also scared that although people who knew me would know this was a huge feat, people who didn’t might think 5k wasn’t very far. It all felt like a lot of pressure.
But I thought when had I last set myself a challenge? I had to admit that the possibility that maybe it was something I could achieve was definitely appealing. The fact that I would also be raising money for a fantastic charity that I know first hand makes a huge impact was also a hugely persuasive factor. So, with some encouragement from my sister and a bit of determined faith, I signed myself up.
As soon as I registered and created a sponsorship page, people knew and – more importantly – I knew that there was no backing out; it was happening whether I liked it or not! At that point in time, 100 metres got me out of breath and feeling dizzy. I knew that if I was going to make it to 5k I had to start training as soon as possible.
My first long push on Brighton seafront was hard. My partner had invested in some new pushing gloves for me as an unsubtle nudge of encouragement and had agreed to walk alongside me. I’m sure he regretted this almost immediately. When I accidently pushed into him, I blamed him for getting in my way! It was a real comedy of errors and the sea wind was certainly not my friend that day! I was sure I wasn’t even going to make it to 1k but I was so stubborn that I tried to get as far as I could.
What my first distance push taught me that day was that I would need to go slowly, to keep my breathing as regular as I could, and to take a break when I had a chance. I’d count in threes – one push, two push, three push and then have a break for the next few seconds. I set targets in numbers or street points and would make sure I knew when I’d passed certain distances. With each training session I always found the first 200 metres really tough – that didn’t change throughout my training, but after that first part I’d find my rhythm and it did get easier. My confidence gradually grew and the ways I managed the dizziness became better and I began to feel more positive about accomplishing the big 5k.
On the day of the event, I was all geared up in my bright orange t-shirt, covered in fairy lights with music pumping all around me: I was ready to go. I felt extremely anxious; I was dizzy before I had even started and there was a newly discovered hole in one of my gloves. Still, I didn’t doubt I was going to do it. I would give it my all and if it took me all night then so be it!
I set off with my sister, cousin and friends walking beside me and was quite happy when the crowds left me behind and I had some space. I felt like I was going well but was suddenly confronted by what appeared to be a never ending hill! A new challenge to tackle and it wasn’t the only incline on the course. I used the downhill parts to rest and catch my breath and there were points on some hills I had to stop for a few seconds to break. I even used some wheelchair skills to zig zag up them! We passed strangers who told me to keep going and cheered me on, and once I passed the 3k mark I knew I had to keep going and finish it.
Finally, I could see the finishing line and knew I had made it. I may have been the last to finish, but I had completed it by myself and kept going even when my arms wanted me to stop. The overriding highlight was just that: I had pushed it on my own.
Since the Supernova I now realise that I’m capable of so much more than I realised before. This was something I would never have attempted three years ago. Pushing 5k still remains a long distance, but my fitness is better, my attitude more positive and as long as I don’t rush it, I can now push myself even further.
If you would like to find out about all our accessible fundraising challenges, you can visit our website or get in touch with Alex (Alex@backuptrust.org.uk) or call her on 020 8875 1805.