Lake Vyrnwy Half Marathon countdown: 112 days to go!
“Running is nothing more than a series of arguments between the part of your brain that wants to stop and the part that wants to keep going.”
In sixteen weeks’ time I predict I shall be collapsed in a big heap somewhere, legs like jelly, body exhausted and – as my pet running expert warns me – craving sugar like crazy. It still seems a long way off and my official training programme doesn’t start until mid-June but now feels like a good time to have another look at those lovely photos of Lewis and remind myself exactly why I’m training for a half marathon in September.
My first job is to say a huge THANK YOU to Norma, Gordon, Megan and Kate for starting the ball running with their generous donations. 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 I know September 10th is a long way off and I appreciate that many people find the idea of making a donation before the event a bit strange or even downright wrong, but I can’t begin to describe what an incredible boost it gives to my training and attitude. The fact that people are already putting their faith in me to carry this through is what keeps me out there, plodding along, because there is no way I am going to let them down.
When I first started running five years ago on medical advice, I followed the beginners’ programme from Zenhabits Beginners’ running guide because it was gentle and non-competitive and suited me well. I loved the programme but hated the running. Unlike Roger, I am not a natural runner: I’m not very good at it, I’m very slow and I don’t enjoy it – never have, possibly never will. Walking, I love. I would quite happily walk miles and miles every day but as soon as my brain sends the message to my feet to move in a forward direction at a faster pace, something inside me goes into instant stubborn mule mode. What me? Run? Are you joking or what?
So why do it? First and foremost, as my GP had predicted, it fixed me. That, coupled with the long list of health benefits running can bring, even to – no, especially to – a woman of my age (if you’re interested, there’s a great list to ponder in this article Health benefits of running), suggests it’s a Good Thing to do. I’m happy to take responsibility for my health and do all that I can to stay as fit and active – physically and mentally – for as long as possible, even if it means doing something I don’t like. This half marathon challenge is helping me a lot with the psychological side of things. I wouldn’t say that I’m starting to enjoy it, but now that I’m in a routine of running every other day without fail, I find that I’m lacing up my trainers more with resignation than resistance. It’s a step – literally – in the right direction.
Second, I believe that a major shake up from time to time is also a Good Thing. (Richard Templar’s book, The Rules To Break, is a great source of inspiration on this.) It is so easy to settle into the same old ways of being and doing and losing that wonderful sense of awe and excitement about new things that children naturally exhibit but somehow we seem to lose along the way. I am very blessed to be fifty and a granny but neither of those things should stop me from seeking out new experiences, adventures and challenges. Okay, it’s hard – very hard – but it’s also thrilling and stimulating and energising and slightly terrifying and possibly a bit crazy, but it’s living and feeling alive. I love that. How exciting to think that maybe, just maybe, I can do this. After all, I never believed I could run 5K until I did the Shrewsbury Race For Life in 2013, but I did it. No plans for a tutu this time (believe me, it was not a comfortable thing to run in!) but the determination and anticipation (and very nervous smile) haven’t changed.
Then, of course, there is Lewis and my desire to do something positive and uplifting in his memory: this is the most poignant but important motivation of all. When we heard of Lewis’s diagnosis, one of the overwhelming feelings I had was that of sheer helplessness. There was nothing, absolutely nothing, we could do to stop the march of that cruel disease and his untimely death. I suppose like many people I was guilty of taking lots of things in my life for granted, not least the three healthy, bouncy, spirited children I lived with. I had supported Hope House children’s hospice in Shropshire for many years without ever once stopping to think about what really went on there. Let’s face it, until something like this touches your life, it always happens to someone else, to a faceless, nameless ‘them’. I’m wiser now.
We have attended two funerals of friends’ children and they were the saddest of occasions, against the natural order of things. So tragic, so wrong. No-one asks for their child to be terminally ill. No parent comes pre-programmed and prepared to cope with the immense physical, emotional, practical and financial demands of caring for and losing their precious child. They are just ordinary people trying to lead normal family lives. Lewis was a very, very special boy but he was also very ordinary wee chap who kicked footballs, watched ‘Barney’ and had a rabbit called Bambam. That is why the work of children’s hospices like Rachel House Rachel House Hospice is so vital because the staff understand these things and know exactly how to offer real and valuable help, care and support.
I am hoping to raise £500 in sponsorship for Rachel House. In terms of their running costs, I know that is a tiny drop in the ocean . . . but then what is an ocean if not many, many tiny drops? I want to give something back in memory of Lewis, something that will go a little way to helping families like Gordon, Norma and Megan in their time of need. Sixteen weeks and it will all be over. Who knows, in that time I might even come to like running – in which case Lewis will have succeeded where all else has so far failed! 🙂