I started this year unable to run a kilometre, let alone a mile. I also started the year with 3 healthy grandparents. When my grandfather- the 3rd of 4 grandparents, was diagnosed with a rare type of cancer in his jaw in May I was on a s l o w l y progressing couch to 5km programme because running was to be no more than a convenient way to keep fit whilst working away from home. And just like that, it became a challenge. A challenge to see how far I could push myself in a bid to try and further the cause of Cancer Research, because the surgery that means I still have my grandfather to send WhatsApp messages about wine to, it had only been performed a handful of times before, and it happens because research is pushing the treatment of cancer forward, not just the search for a cure.
Since my first race on 21st June (the Nike Women's 10km), I've run 55km in races- some of them a week or less apart from each other. In hindsight maybe I should have opted to run a half marathon this autumn, having never trained for a long distance before, and having no experience. just a shed load of injuries old and new to contend with along the way. But I' not asking people to sponsor me to stay in my comfort zone.
I often feel angry that people use charity and sponsorship as a means to do something- especially races both running and bike, that they want to do anyway and they are either too tight to pay the entry fees or didn't get through a ballot. This autumn I am running a marathon. I paid for my entry, like I did for every race I've run this year, and it's taken over my life for the last 16 weeks. I feel like I've spent most of my waking hours outside of my office running, thinking about running, eating or thinking about what to eat. I had a little cry a couple of weeks ago when I thought I might have seriously injured myself, and I'm panicking a bit that I've not trained as hard as I'd have liked since. I miss staying in bed as long as I want on Sundays because I have to find the hours to put in a long run. I miss being able to eat vegetables and fruit the day before a long run. I never thought I'd be saying this, but I'm so sick of carbs.
You might roll your eyes when you realise this is another person posting about running or marathons, and that's fine, but as I head into this final 7 days and I think hard about the reasons behind submitting my entry, I now understand that it's tough. If, like me, you're not an athlete, just a person trying to do something out of the ordinary, then this is life changing. All of a sudden you spend almost your entire weekend thinking about eating and running, planning for eating and running, and eating and running. I have laughed, cried and felt on top of the world through my training, and despite having such a strong reason to do this, I've still had moments where I've wondered why I'm subjecting myself to something that is so encompassing of my life.
In truth, I'm terrified and looking forward to being able to move on from this entire experience all at once. I'm not excited for a medal or finishing within a certain time, I'm just scared I won't make it across the line and I want my life back.