Blog submitted by Charlotte Coleman-Smith
Charlotte Coleman-Smith is one of the over 30,000 people who will take to the streets of Addis Ababa to participate in Africa’s biggest road race – a challenging 10km at 10,000 feet above sea level. She is part of the ORBIS Ireland team taking on this massive challenge at the end of November 2011. Charlotte shares with us her preparations, fears and excitement in anticipation of the race.
After two years of procrastination, I've finally made the decision to join the ORBIS Ireland team on the Great Ethiopian Run. I'm elated, and terrified.
Elated - because it's the trip of a lifetime, a huge personal challenge for me, and a chance to prove that I am more than just a Mum, and all-round domestic goddess. I get to go to a fascinating country - one that's been on my list for many years and I can't wait.
More importantly, by supporting ORBIS, I'm turning my mind towards people who are so much less fortunate than myself. The pictures I've seen of little boys suffering from trachoma in quiet agony, red-eyed and despairing, contrast so starkly with my three strapping, healthy, happy sons. Their situation throws so many things in perspective. And because the aim of ORBIS in Ethiopia is so simple - to restore sight - it makes my goal crystal clear. This helps hugely with motivation when I am dying of boredom on my fourth lap of the local sports field.
I'm terrified, though, because I'm no athlete, and 10k is twice as far as I'm used to. In 2010 I was in hospital more times than I care to remember, having been diagnosed with breast cancer in 2009. I'm certainly fit to go now, but I'm keeping my expectations low - I'd like simply to finish the course.
As I write, late at night, I’m basking in the scent of newly baked brownies and fresh flowers. Every chair we own stands to attention against any available wallspace, in anticipation of a crowd of mums (and possibly one dad) I’ve invited over tomorrow morning. The dishwasher is labouring over its load of sticky spoons and cake beaters.
The time has nearly come for my fundraising coffee morning.
‘Nice life you have’, shrugged my husband earlier as he eyed the cakes and scones. ‘Coffee mornings, trips to Ethiopia ...’ I remind him that after I’d cooked and cleared up the family meal, I did 5k on the treadmill in the gym, returned to the kitchen and incorporated my own body weight in sugar and dark chocolate into 46 brownies. It’s not easy being an elite athlete.
I’m new to the area, so I’m not sure how it will all go. I’m hoping that the mix of caffeine and chocolate will entice my new friends to be generous to the cause. Who knows, I might well recruit some victims for next year’s run.
In just one week we’ll be on the plane to Addis. What a thought. If I go to the gym every day, I wonder if that’s long enough to work off a plate of brownies?