On Sunday, I did something I swore I would never do again. A long distance run. A few months back, I signed up to the Royal Parks Half Marathon to help raise money for the National Deaf Children’s Society. Despite having done very little training in the last month due to the party conferences and having a sniffly cold, I decided to go ahead. Off I headed to Hyde Park Corner in the early hours of a cloudy Sunday morning to take my place among thousands of other runners.
First couple of miles went OK. Lots of weaving in and out of other runners. Throat feeling rather dry. Came close to a massive pile up at the first drinks station. After four miles, the novelty wore off and I started to think “I still have an awfully long way to go”. After around 5 miles, I started to feel a little queasy. Maybe a month of breakfast fry-ups at party conferences wasn’t the best training plan to adopt. Was I approaching the wall?
Then I ran into Hyde Park to the sight of lots of people cheering everyone on. I saw the NDCS flag! Some lovely volunteers and colleagues there to cheer me on. I got a second burst and felt revitalised and picked up speed again. This is just like my normal run in the park with lots of nice golden autumn leaves around.
Then around 7 to 8 miles, I began to flag again. How big is this pesty park? How can I still be running in it?! A convulated run in and around the park, avoiding conkers and squirrels. Squirted some carb gel into my mouth to give me energy. Didn’t help. In fact, felt queasy again. Maybe a mantra would help? Something to repeat over and over again in my head to keep me going. Then gave up on that when I realised I was singing Bob the Builder’s “Can we fix it?” in my head.
Still around 4 miles to go… Legs beginning to feel like lead. Headache developing as I pound the ground. Maybe I could stop to walk for a little bit? Just for a little while? Voices in my head start to have an argument on whether to keep going. I begin to speculate that running is making me mad. But then I see some stranger holding a poster saying that you’ve only failed, if you quit trying. I decide to keep trying.
Getting to the eleven mile mark. Not that long to go… maybe I can do this after all? I keep my head down and focus on staying in a good rhythm. Twelve mile mark. Nearly there. Hang on, one of my colleagues has just run past me! I pick up speed once again. Never going to pass her, but definitely not going to let her finish miles ahead of me!
Then I see the finish line, around half a mile away. I look at my watch and see I’m just under two hours. There’s nothing for it. I slowly pick up speed. Getting faster and faster. Before I know it, I’m sprinting to the finish line, legs screaming in agony and lungs on the verge of collapse. And then it’s all over. I’ve done it. 1 hour, 59 minutes and 2 seconds. Phew.
Then comes the best bit of all. The sense of achievement. A warm glow inside of you, that masks everything else. Knowing that you set yourself a goal, worked hard for it and did it. That alone is worth it, but also knowing that I’ve helped raise a little bit of money for charity. And got a pretty little medal too.
Two days later, I still can’t do stairs and I’ve now officially retired from long distance running. If anyone in the office asks, I tell them I never want to do it again. But I probably will, maybe in around a year when I’ve forgotten about all the pain. Maybe I will actually train properly next time. At the end of the day, the post-run euphoria is like nothing else.
If you want to set yourself a challenge, NDCS has lots of events for people, from short runs to trekking up mountains. And if you want to reward me for my agony in the park, then I have a sponsor page at justgiving.
See you at the start line next year!