Funny things happen when you become 50. For me it a worry that there were lots of things I wanted to do and at the same time I realised that I wasn’t 21 anymore! Time seemed to be speeding up.
On top of that my wife, Wynne, remarked after a Christmas spent eating, drinking etc that I really needed to lose weight. I also was feeling a bit “odd” and later found out I had high blood pressure and high levels of cholesterol – not good news! This was made worse by my local nurse scaring me to death when I told her my Father had a heart attack in his 40’s!
So look for a challenge I thought. Okay join the local running club, which is based at my Leisure Centre, so no excuse not to turn up. Oh no – they then asked me to become club President – no pressure there then!!
That was 5 years ago when within 4 months of joining the club I staggered round my first 10k local race. I remember it well as I was “chased” by a man dressed as a dog who was collecting money in a bucket – it would be too embarrassing to be beaten by a dog especially as it stopped quite often to accept money from the spectators! Anyway I sorted him out by phoning the local dog warden to complain about a wild dog chasing me along the sea front -it was last seen being bundled into a van!
So feeling tired but elated that not only had I raised money for charity but I had completed the race in one piece. Little did I know that the following week the club started its training for the Great South Run (Portsmouth) which is 10 miles and to me totally out of the question. But now I was caught partly because as Club President I felt I had to show leadership by actually running and secondly because it had helped me lose some weight and reduced blood pressure and levels of cholesterol (well you can’t eat too much when you are running can you?!) That was 5 years ago and since then I have kept on going and whenever possible raised money for charity. Not only did I manage to drag my small, but perfectly formed, body around the 10k and 10 mile courses I have completed two half marathons. Each time I finished I used to say to myself “how on earth can anyone run twice as far?” My last half marathon was in Vancouver on the day we flew back to the UK from holiday in June. Big mistake!
So here I am in 2005 about to run/walk/stagger my first marathon – and what a marathon to attempt. I will be running and raising funds for our local Hospice, St Wilfreds. It has always been a long held ambition to attempt the London. Each year I watch highlights on TV wishing I could be a part of this great event. Applications have failed over the years – “thank goodness” I used to say to myself as I said to friends how disappointed I was to be rejected once again!!
Then in January I was dealing with the local Hospice, St Wilfreds, and jokingly said how “gutted” I was that they didn’t offer me one of their “gold” places. Then halfway through February they rang me to say they had a place for me! Well I couldn’t exactly turn it down could I? Just think of the lose of face I would suffer especially as I had made it known how fed up I was not to have got a place!
Panic, panic! All my other club runners (we have now got 26 running in this year’s race!) had been training since December and I was about to start! “Buy some new shoes as yours are worn out,” I was advised. So I did and stupidly ran 13 miles ending up with blisters. Anyway I am gradually increasing the length of time on the road as the clock ticks. I am not panicing yet as I am too busy finishing off various bits of work before I retire as Manager of the Arun Leisure Centre. Oh yes, and of course I am still on call as a local Coastguard. The local paper did a big item on me – retirement and marathon – and it’s amazing how generous people are donating money for this worthwhile cause. Many of us know friends, colleagues and family who have benefited from the care provided by a Hospice.
Am I worried about the race? I would be daft if I wasn’t! Will I get round? Of course I will – there are too many people checking their TV sets to get a glimpse of number 47,080! Will I raise lots of money for the Hospice? Well of course. Will I enjoy it? I sincerely hope so. Will I do it again? I know I am mad to do it at the age of 61 but I am not that mad!!
And now the rest of the story… read about Mike’s race day experience!
About the Author: Mike Monk is a man of many talents, president of his local running club, soon to be retired leisure center manager and a coastguard. He resides in the seaside village of Felpham, West Sussex, on the southern coast of England.