Supporter Simon Miller shares his experience of being a part of Team Now at the Royal Parks Foundation Half Marathon this year.
I am 51 and started running regularly about two years ago, when I was unfit and a bit overweight.
What really made me get the trainers on was when I saw a photo of myself and was quite taken aback by how terrible I thought I looked! Was that really me? I have found running to be a good way of clearing the mind and refreshing the body.
Although I sometimes have to drag myself out the front door for a training run, especially if I’m tired and it's dark and cold outside, I never regret doing it and always feel better afterwards. And these days running apps allow you to really track your performance and progress, which gives extra motivation.
Choosing Breast Cancer Now
I run 10K and half-marathon distances fairly regularly. Once a year I run an event to raise money for a cause I care about.
My quickest times have almost always been achieved when I’m being sponsored, so I think running for others definitely gives me extra motivation.
Just before Christmas last year Nicky - one of my best friends who I met over 30 years ago – died after a nine year fight against breast cancer. She left behind a husband, Ian, and a four year old son, Jimmy.
Nicky confronted her cancer with inspirational courage and humour. She wouldn't be intimidated by her illness and I never heard her complain - but I don't want other women to suffer as I know she did.
That's why I decided to run the Royal Parks Foundation Half Marathon for Breast Cancer Now. The course is perfect and one I’ve run before. It is flat and takes you through some beautiful parks and some of London’s most iconic landmarks – Hyde Park Corner, Trafalgar Square, The Strand, The Mall etc.
The main event
The weather was perfect – cool, still, dry - and there were loads of enthusiastic spectators all the way round the course. Whoever you’re running for, you’re never more than a few strides away from a cheer of encouragement. I put my name on the front of my Breast Cancer Now running vest, as I know from experience that it really gives you an extra push when people call out your name.
I ended up running my quickest half-marathon and came in at just under 1 hour and 40 minutes. I never thought I would run that fast, especially as I thought I had under trained, but I did have it in my mind that I wanted to run a quick time for Nicky – to celebrate and remember her and to put two fingers up to the disease that put her through so much and took her from us. I decided to set off at a sub-8 minute mile speed and see how it went.
After five miles I felt OK. After nine miles I felt tired and could happily have stopped, but I told myself there were only four and a bit miles to go, that I’d broken the back of the distance, that the quicker I went the sooner it would be over!
I found myself muttering words of encouragement to myself in those last few miles and I thought of Nicky a lot and remembered her twinkle-eyed smile. She kept me going.
By an amazing coincidence – and I had no idea when I signed up to run the event – the Royal Parks Foundation Half Marathon took place on the birthday of Ian, Nicky’s husband. He was there to greet me at the end of the race. It was wonderful to see him and we didn’t need to say many words to understand how each other felt and what the run meant to both of us.
Being a part of Team Now
The staff on the Breast Cancer Now stand really looked after me after the race, plying me with energy drinks, bananas and sweets. I talked a bit with some of the other Breast Cancer Now runners.
All our lives had been touched and hurt by breast cancer in some way and it was good to be a part of group taking positive action against this disease. It felt like we were collectively telling breast cancer, “We are not defeated. You will not beat us – we will beat you.”
Breast Cancer Now is proud to be one of the charity partners of the 2016 Royal Parks Foundation Half Marathon.
Join our team today and help us to achieve our aim that, by 2050, no one who develops breast cancer will die from it.