Crossing the Finish Line at Parallel London

Monique by Monique
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Parallel London 2016 passed in a blur of excitement on 4th September. The alarm went off at 6am and I started fuelling up with cereal and a cup of strong tea. The nerves started to kick in a little bit as I put on my Whizz-Kidz t-shirt, but there wasn’t really time to dwell on that as I pulled up my multi-coloured socks, pushed my neon-green painted nails through my gloves, and got in the car ready to go.

We arrived at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park with enough time to find a parking space, get signed in and then go in search of the Whizz-Kidz Events team. We found them just beginning to set up and it was so lovely to meet them face-to-face; until now we had only spoken via email and phone.

All too soon it was time to go and line up at the start line. There were people everywhere, all wearing different coloured t-shirts representing the many charities they were raising money for. I spotted the odd green Whizz-Kidz shirt but there wasn’t much time to chat – it was almost 10am and time to start the race.

Huddled on the start line with the other participants, I felt nervous but also very eager to get started. But it wasn’t time to go yet – we had to warm up! Team Commando did a huge group warm-up, which got my blood and excitement pumping. I think I might have been a bit over-enthusiastic in the warm-up, because by the time we got round to starting the race, my shoulders were starting to ache. Then as the race began I shot off from the start line!

It was incredible to wheel past all of the people lining the course, cheering us on, waving flags and shouting words of encouragement. Whizz-Kidz had cheer points set up around the course, which spurred me on, and I started pushing myself to the max. This grit and determination lasted until I got round the bend and was met by my first adversary: a massive hill studded with speed-bumps.

My heart sank a little and I suddenly felt exhausted. Was this what the whole 10k was going to be like, hills and speed-bumps? Those things were hard enough to tackle on an ordinary day, let alone a day when I had to push myself 10km.

Before I could get too despondent, my mum (who was walking the race with me) took over and gave me a helping hand up the hill. I was very grateful to have her by my side the whole way around to keep me going and join in on my sing-alongs to “Let It Go” from Frozen to keep my mind off how tired I was!

We passed every landmark in the Park, stopping every now and then to get our breath back (and to take the odd selfie and video diary entry), which was one of my favourite things about choosing to do the 10k race rather than a shorter one.

However, the 10k was starting to get really draining, especially since parts of the course were so far away from the main event that it felt quite quiet and isolated at times. That’s why it was such a relief to see my sister at the 6km marker during a particularly quiet part of the route, shouting encouragement through a megaphone! That gave me a huge burst of determination to keep going, which was just as well because there was another huge hill just up ahead…

When I realised I had just 1km to go my arms were so sore I thought would just have to give up there and then, but the cheers from the finished participants wearing their medals and eating ice cream pushed me on. The finish line came into sight as we came around the last bend, and the final rush of adrenaline was fantastic. I was going to finish strong and smiling! I heard my name announced on the loud speaker as I crossed the finish line.

It was fabulous and exhilarating. Everything then was a blur: photos, medal, goody bag, hugs and tears of joy! I found out later that I finished the course in 2 hours and 41 minutes, and raised an overwhelming £605 for Whizz-Kidz, which is amazing considering I’d never wheeled further than 2km in one go in training!

I would like to thank everyone who supported me through Parallel London; everyone who donated towards my target and helped me smash it, everyone who sent me messages of support, everyone at Whizz-Kidz for their cheers along the way, and my mum and sister for their support physically and emotionally.

Here’s to next year!


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