Sunday, 20 January 2013

Challenge 6: Parklife

Woke up early yesterday morning, wondering if the weather would allow me to complete my aim of running the 5K Wimpole Estate Parkrun for the first time. We'd had sprinklings of snow on friday, with more forecast for the weekend; I wasn't sure if I'd make it there.

I'm a huge fan of the whole concept of parkrun which organises free weekly 5 km timed runs in the UK and abroad that are open to everyone. It is an inclusive volunteer led initiative with runners who take turns in supporting the weekly runs through a variety of volunteering roles. Working with volunteers has been a huge part of my life on and off for most of the last 10-15 years, so I am thrilled by any community volunteering initiative!

Transplanted hearts are brilliant but don't work to the same capacity as healthy first edition hearts and whilst running is something that I love the idea of, for me it is incredibly hard work. This is because all the nerves to my "not so new now" heart were cut when I had the operation and whilst there is the possibility that there may have been some nerve re-growth, it takes a while for my heart to get going. This inevitably leads to a slow start and lots of huffing and puffing type behaviour, especially after short bursts of activity. 

Parkrunners are early birds and by 9am, 144 assorted runners gathered in front of the stable block, rubbing their hands to keep warm against the sub zero temperatures of the morning.  It was fabulous to see such an array of different runners in assorted lyrcra, glove and hat combos; those in their club vests, the tough ones with short sleeved tops; parents with their children; runners with their dogs; all doing their best to keep warm whilst waiting for the race to start.  This is the part of the race that I get to "hang" with other runners!

Fortunately for me the first part of the race was on the flat ground along to the old gate, so I could settle into a steady pace ready for the hills and get my heart beating a little faster before heading up onto the snowy parkland.  Those runners with the more conventional cardio-vascular set up disappeared into the distance within half a kilometre, waymarking my route through the snow. This is the hard bit; the bit where my heart hasn't really got going properly;  eveyone else is way off in front and I have to remind myself that I'm not racing anyone. 

If I was on my own at the back, then I'm not sure that I'd complete the course and in the past I've sometimes cut runs short because that day its just been too hard to keep going. But I wasn't on my own because parkruns have a tail runner and yesterdays tail runner was Steve, a friendly and encouraging companion, who only started running last November.  I used a combination of running, power-walking and plain old walking to get round the course and Steve didn't seem too bothered by the fact I was doubling his run time. We were joined after a while by a lady in wellies trialing the route in anticipation of running it properly next week; I hope she does.

At each of the waymarking points the volunteers were friendly and pleased to see us;  partly because that marked the point where they could stop standing around in a field at -1 and return to base for a warm drink! ;-) 

In the final part of the run there is a bit called the funnel where runners go through in single file and collect their running place ticket. The funnel is kind of unecessary by the time I get there as there isn't so much of a scrum for last place!  Mine said 143; at least I beat Steve!

Race times came through later in the day: 48mins and 48 seconds.

Thank you to all the volunteers who make parkrun possible and all those who were so friendly and encouraging on the day!
6 out of 20 challenges complete:

  1. Climbed my first mountain - Cadair Idris
  2. Learned how to punt
  3. Learned how to hula hoop
  4. First road bike ride;
  5. Taken up tap dancing
  6. First 5K trail run at Wimpole Hall Parkrun


I'm doing this to help raise funds for these two fantastic charities:

Please make a donation to Papworth Hospital Charity at

Please make a donation to The Freeman Heart and Lung Transplant Association, at

None of this would be possible without the kindness of my donor's family and this challenge is part of acknowledging the significance of that gift.  Your support means the world to me! 

Click here to find out more about organ donation and join the register
#202heartchallenge #lifegiven @angie_ridley

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

New Year Challenge Update

New Year is traditionally a time for retrospection and resolutions, so a good opportunity to take stock of my achievements to date and think a little more about my plans for the next 8 months.

So far I've:
  1. Climbed my first mountain; this was amazing and exhausting in equal measure and I'm planning to scale some more peaks in 2013.
  2. Learned how to punt; as a non-swimmer, this was an enormous challenge and I spent the first ten or fifteen minutes hyperventilating at the side of the Cam before I calmed down enough to have a go!
  3. Learned how to hula hoop; love hooping and this is something that I now do most days and have even been known to take my hoop into the office.
  4. Had my first road bike ride; road bike riding was fantastic and I would love to get my own road bike and take on a long distance cylce ride.
  5. Taken up tap dancing; still love the sound the tap shoes make on the studio floor.

Challenges in progress:

Skipping was something I was unable to do as a child as it was too vigorous, so makes a perfect heart challenge that fits in well with family time with the children.  We've spent lots of time in the Christmas holidays: hula hooping, bouncy hopping and skipping in the garden and I'm currently managing around 5 skips before I trip on the rope.   Thinking that I should aim for 20 unbroken skips before I can declare this challenge complete!

Ice-skating seemed a seasonally appropriate challenge, however it is something I've had a go at before so doesn't qualify as a first,.  Last time I went ice-skating was in 1995 and I found the whole experience terrifying, envisaging broken bones and sliced fingers. My skating technique involved moving gingerly along whilst holding onto the side or holding Keith's hand tightly out on the rink; it was the first time we ever held hands.

At the close of 2012 we took the children into Cambridge for their first ever ice-skating session, whilst my challenge was to stay upright and move independently on the ice without holding onto the side, AKA skate! Sadly my technique hadn't magically improved in the intervening years and I managed a haltering meter or so when I wasn't holding onto the side or my spouse. More work needed and a good excuse for another trip to the North Pole before the Twelfth day of Christmas.

Thoughts for 2013

My Challenge is a work in progress and I haven't got a definitive list that I'm ticking off but lots of ideas of fun things to do:
  1. Tobogganing
  2. Climb Scafell Pike
  3. kayaking
  4. Abseiling
  5. Walk along Hadrian's Wall
  6. Rock climbing
None of this would have been possible without the kindness of my organ donors family and they are often in my thoughts.


I'm doing this to help raise funds for these two fantastic charities:

To make a donation to the Papworth Hospital Charity please visit my justgiving page at

To make a donation to The Freeman Heart and Lung Transplant Association, please visit my justgiving page at

Find out more about organ donation and sign the register...

Click #2020heartchallenge #lifegiven @angie_ridley