Beryl’s story: Onto the road and into the light

I started exercising at the age of 65 after I had two stents fitted in the good old heart, and was advised by the doctor to exercise. I explained to him that I had never done any form of exercise ever in my life, and he suggested walking.

Trying this on my own was out of the question, as I am not the kind of person who can do it alone. I ventured out to join Run/Walk for Life Fourways, as I had seen all the boards at the gate many times while driving past Norscot.

I started and was so impressed with the service and the time Beth took to get me started at the first meeting. I never believed walking could be difficult – I mean, I have been walking my whole life!

Day one was only 300m. I was out of breath and felt like I was going to die and go to heaven. In fact, I was so red in the face that Beth was really concerned about me, but I was fine.

The field work was a real challenge, but I got through it and I was very excited to go on the road (amidst lots of clapping!). Sally was my mentor on my first outing and while she chatted away, all I could think about was trying to get one foot in front of the other without my lungs bursting out my chest – because now, not only was I walking, but I was also trying to talk – and besides, it was getting dark.

The problem for me going on the road was that it was winter, and it got dark early. I never told Beth or Sally or anyone for that matter that I am afraid of the dark. I was assured that I would never be alone on the road, but this did not comfort me at all, so I very sheepishly asked Beth if I could stay on the field. So, back to the field I went, and felt great.

The challenge was that after three months inside, I was asked a few times by members why I was not on the road, and I was not able to tell anyone. I dealt with my own demons of being afraid of the dark and decided that I had to do this. I went on the road with a buddy who was walking at the same pace as I was, and together we used to get on the road – although neither of us could speak because we were both out of breath!
I was lucky to be able to work at my walking three times a week, and tried so hard not to miss a class, as hard as it was to stay focused.

With Beth and her team giving the thumbs up every time we passed on the road, I am doing so well, and now walking 5 kilometres. I have started jogging, and I have run my first race and got my very first medal. I have won the Most Improved Walker award and, best of all, I am not afraid of the dark.

The last two years have been the most amazing journey. I have lost 12 kgs and feel so healthy. To my amazement, I am loving walking so much. Beth, you are the most amazing teacher and mentor to us all, and so committed to our progress. I could never have done this without you. Run/Walk For Life has changed my life.