Monday, October 31, 2011

All Those Things She Said. Running Through My Head.

It started with an ad on a website. An inkling of an idea. I never thought it would even be close to possible. It took a couple of months to work out that it was something I really liked the idea of. It took another month to brave telling my mother that's what I was thinking about. Then began the waiting. Then came the optimism when things started to happen. Then came... well, devastation.

I am in fact talking about the Royal Air Force. I first discovered their careers options about 18 months ago, and when the applications opened for my dream job about 4 months ago, I went for it. I had nothing to lose. In deciding that I wanted to join the Air Force though, I also realised that after 3 years of painful movement and therapy, I was going to have to learn how to run.

I should explain. As a result of a few injuries in my mid teens, I had problems with a twisted pelvis aged 19. Something only recognised after numerous appointments with Dr's and eventually resorting to paying a (truly fantastic) Sports Therapist £40 per hour to beat me to kingdom come. I never really thought *proper* running would happen after that. But I persevered, because I couldn't risk of losing my dream career to dodgy hip. I started a running program designed for Forces Rehabilitation (I know about it because TG went through rehab at Hedley Court a couple of years ago), then progressed to Couch25K style programmes.

Now don't get me wrong, I can still only do all of about 2.8KM in 17 minutes. But this time 6 months ago I probably could only have done 2.8KM in 30 minutes. What a difference it makes when you have something to aim for.

A few weeks ago an envelope dropped into our postbox. It was a plain envelope, but the first thing I saw upon pulling out the 3 sheets inside was the RAF logo. And the Medical Board stamp. The first sheet was promising. Declaring me permanently unfit for Air Crew, but otherwise fit for service. I'm not interested in flying, so being permanently unfit for Air Crew selection is neither a surprise, as I have less than perfect vision, nor a problem. The second sheet, well that was slightly different. I couldn't really miss the big letters across the ground branch listings. They read Permanently Unfit All Branches.

I did query the results, just to check there wasn't something that I'd missed or that could be appealed. The call came whilst I was in conference with counsel. The end of the road. I didn't really have time to digest this information. I was sat between a solicitor and a barrister, opposite our clients. But the dream was officially over.

When it did register was when I looked at my trainers the following day. Thinking of heading out for a run, I looked at them. Then I cried a little bit. I know they're only trainers, I know it's just a job. But it was my dream job. I worked hard to get over the barriers I had allowed to get in my way. And I failed my medical because my right eye has a weak muscle in it. A problem that does not prevent me from holding a driving license, working, being able to see out of that eye, it's also rectified when I'm wearing glasses or contact lenses.

I'm lucky. I lost out on my dream job, but I'd already started my GDL. I have other options and a plan that was running parallel. I speak 3 languages and by June I should have an equivalent qualifying law degree. I have a job, I do amazing work experience. I live a comfortable life with my parents and I am not seriously disabled in any way. It didn't stop me from glaring at my trainers for 2 weeks though.

And now. Now what. Well there came a point and a tweet. The tweet mentioned people who should be aiming higher. Mentioned someone's inability to run a year ago, someone who just finished a marathon. And I wondered. I thought "What if she means people like me?" and "What if I'm turning into one of those people?".

And so yesterday, instead of glaring at my trainers, or muttering at them, or being more than a bit pathetic whilst they're looking at me from the bottom of my wardrobe. I put them on. Along with my comfiest running bottoms and a t-shirt. And I made myself run one of my routes. Because I *can*. Because I should be aiming higher, rather than the jaded feeling I had. Because I am lucky. Because I am better than being defeated by a a dream that can't come true.

That person, by the way was Bangs and a Bun. Someone who has been a big inspiration whilst I was training for the Forces, because by the way, she just ran a MARATHON, but more than that, someone who has given me something a whole lot bigger. A great big reminder that I can aim higher, be a better person and do better things. And a massive kick up the backside just when I needed it. I admire this woman, and I don't want to be the kind of person she talks about in *those* tweets.

So thank you. Because all those things you said, they did more than run through my head, they got me running again.
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