50 at 50 for PCRF in 2020. The idea popped into my head in September 2019 to raise money in memory of my dad & my uncle for the Pancreatic Cancer Research Fund and until the beginning of March 2020 I had been living a great existence, completing challenges that had taken me to the Arctic Circle and Northern Ireland. I had walked over hot coals and completed my first Ultra Marathon.
I had zoomed around the UK running races through zoos, dressing up in neon at the Olympic Park and waddled my way around a 2km course dressed as a willy - I mean how many people can say that they have done all that in 6 months!
Then COVID-19 hit the headlines, and slowly the ramifications of this virus, and what it was doing to our world filtered down. “Stop making unnecessary journeys”, “no mass meetings”, “air-planes are grounded”, “keep 2 metres away from people” … the reality sunk in that 50 at 50 in 2020 was going to be cut short… currently 23 in 2020.
And you know what? I’m OK with that.
The enforced lockdown and the opportunity to slow down and has given me the chance to reflect and take stock and here are a few things I have learned.
1. Mentally 50 at 50 was beginning to take its toll.
Working full-time, training for walking events, running events, keeping an eye on PR and pushing fundraising was all beginning to feel like an additional full-time job. My flat was littered with ‘to do lists’ which were a constant reminder of the things I was yet to organise, train tickets for events, accommodation, logistics and kit I needed to buy. Having the chance to slow down has made me realise how frenetic life had become. Don't get me wrong, 50 at 50 was meant to be a challenge but having the chance to pause is quite refreshing!
2. I was proving to myself I was alive.
I have realised that pushing myself to complete these challenges for charity and in memory of loved ones has been more about proving to myself that I am alive, than it has been about raising money. It has made me wonder how many other people feel this too. On my challenge to complete a marathon on the Arctic I had never cried so much, and the tears were so often out of joy - at being that person who was able to see a wild snowy landscape that I knew so many people would never see. The whole Arctic experience reinforced that I was alive, and my dad and Uncle were not, and no amount of fundraising was going to change that.
3. Life is precious.
And what I mean by that is that this enforced slowing down has made me realise how frenetic my life was. My mantra has always been that ‘life is for living’ and for me that meant an overload of experiences, no sooner had one event finished then I was already working on the next one, and maybe didn’t take the time to reflect on what I had done, and soak up the joy of meeting new people, seeing new things and actually patting myself on the back on occasion!
4. I’m done with the guilt….
...because no-one cares! 50 at 50 for PCRF was my brainchild and COVID-19 has stopped my year of fundraising in its tracks. Initially I thought of lots of ways to complete my challenges within the confines of my flat (walking 620km up and down my stairs being quite possibly the most stupid idea I have ever had, trying to emanate the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage trail I was going to complete in August!). I felt guilty that the fundraising was going to stop, but to be honest if I complete 50 at 50 or not, no-one other than me really cares!
5. Age is just a number, and you can achieve anything you want to.
I've made new friends at age 50, I’ve completed my first ultra run at age 50, I’ve travelled to the Arctic at age 50. I have fire-walked at age 50. I learned to cross-country ski in one day at age 50. I’ve driven an transit van with 4 other sweaty girls along the South Coast at age 50, and completed the 177-mile Ragnar Relay in the process. So, my point is that I can achieve other mad things when I am out of lockdown and am age 51!
Am I sad that 50 at 50 is not going to be completed in 2020? Yes of course I am, it would have been a great achievement, but the enjoyment of seeking out new events and finding like-minded thrill seekers to join me can be extended by an extra 12 months – giving me more time to prove to myself that I am alive, and following help me raise a few extra pennies for Pancreatic Cancer Research Fund in the process.
So my thanks go out to everyone who has joined me on a challenge so far, the list is actually longer than I thought. Be prepared for a text message, phone call or email very soon, when our life starts to get back to our 'new normal' and I can share my next 27 crazy events to prove to myself that I am alive, and finally reach 50 at 51!
If you would like to make a donation to Pancreatic Cancer Research Fund, then please do so here https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/heather-lawson-50at50forpcrf