We Are Stronger Than We Think
When I first saw a marathon on TV and saw all the mad people running in their shorts and t-shirts, I honestly thought there's no way I wanted to ever do that. Not the marathon, I still don't want to do that, but the running itself. Me a runner, no, never, not in a million years. That all changed when I started volunteering for Cardiac Risk in the Young (CRY) and actually went to a marathon. It was amazing, the atmosphere was incredible and the crowds were unbelieveable. This time, the marathon was a lot more fun and I began to understand the joy of running and being free. So when I went to my second marathon, I asked my friend Bill how to begin this running malarky. His suggestion: do a parkrun. A free run every Saturday at 9am in parks all over the UK. So I did. I've been running ever since.
It's not easy at first, and sometimes the idea of getting up and running a 5K can be daunting, but that's the best time to do it: when you absolutely don't feel like it.
So I did. And I was so happy about it. I got fresh air, moderate exercise (you don't have to be a fitness freak, even a slow person can do it and you can even walk, the point is to get out in the fresh air) and best of all I got to make friends. And any advice I needed, I just asked other runners including Bill. I was having a ball. I ran for nearly three years. I even got really fast at one point (37.11). It was great.
And then disaster struck about a year ago. Everything fell apart. I suddenly couldn't run. At first it was a depressive 'I really don't want to do this' sort of thing and then it got to a point where the idea of running absolutely terrified me. I couldn't work out why. I loved running. It wasn't easy, but I loved it.
When the AJ Staff got jailed, this was a motivation to get out there. They were imprisoned, couldn't run, except up and down a corridor. I also remembered the people of Boston who had their marathon ruined because of terrorism. And I remembered Mohamed Fahmy's words: "Be thankful for small mercies. You're not homeless, you're not in prison and you're not dead!". And Bill's words: "I can do this! They (Boston) couldn't, because of an act of violence, so just keep going". Eventually, though, even they ceased to motivate me. I asked Bill's advice. It was simple, but sensible: Don't run for a while. Just accept you can't and don't. So I didn't. I was glad I didn't have to anymore, but I was sad, because I loved running, I was slow, but I didn't care. Just being able to get out and run was fun and the freedom of it was wonderful.
This went on for a while. I thought I would never run again. Then I remembered we had entered the London 10,000. I had to be able to run for that, so I went to my park runs as a volunteer to at least get back into the spirit of it and then ran if I felt like it. About twice. I wasn't worried about the Westminster Mile, because it was only a mile. Even someone with no mojo could manage a mile. My friend Pauline said "Don't worry, you'll be ready, we'll get you there". So I (painfully) did a couple more Parkruns and volunteered in Richmond, where Bill also said, "You'll do it!" I tried to do a 10K around Pugney's and just got there. I tried a week later and couldn't even make five. The week before the 10,000, I wasn't even close to being ready or motivated. I had to do something drastic. So, I told Don that the next morning, I wanted us to run as far as we could. I had to at least try. So I did. I ran 8K. I don't know how I did it but I did. I was determined to get out of this running funk I was in. Two days later I ran 6K with Pauline and Geoff.
I still wasn't sure I could do this. But everyone had got so much faith in me, that I had to try. It was then I surprised myself in the most fantastic way. I ran the Westminster Mile - all of it. Usually, I run, walk, run, walk, run, walk ad infinitum. This time I started to run and I kept running. I was slow, but I did it.
The biggest test though was the 10K. Could I manage that? It turned out I could and in the time I wanted too. I wanted to do it in around an hour and a half. I was only two minutes out. I was thrilled. Before I did it, I was terrified I was going to fall apart. I didn't. The atmosphere was amazing, the crowds were fantastic, the sprinklers were a wonderful idea and the feeling of getting across that finish line was the very best feeling in the world. I loved it and I am so glad I persevered.
Will I be doing the Westminster Mile and the 10K again next year? Damn right!! In fact I'm so pleased with myself, I am doing the Kew Gardens 10K in September. I can't wait.
All this has made me realise one thing. Never give up, just keep going. You'll be surprised at what you can achieve.
I thought I couldn't achieve a 10K, but I did. Never forget, you are stronger than you think.
"Run like hell because you always need to! Laugh hard and run fast!" ~ Peter Capaldi.