Sunday, 18 September 2011

The Challenge

Once upon a time, I pounded the streets of London for 26.2 miles (and not on a drunken 'let's try and visit every pub in London (impossible btw) mission on a Friday night).  Once upon a time... I ran a marathon.  I was as shocked as everyone else (although they graciously tried to pretend that they were not) when I announced I was going to do it.  It was one of those experiences where I could feel and hear the words leaving my mouth, talking enthusiastically about training for body and mind and brainstorming with friends on how I was going to do the fundraising for Scope.

It was one of those moments in life however, where I could talk the talk, make as many lists, positive affirmations notes to stick up, training schedules in pretty colours as I liked, but without actually getting out and doing the grass roots training I was going to fail.  And I pretty much live in fear of the word 'fail', so there was no way I was going to be able to let that happen.  I was going to have to do it. 

Now I had 'claimed' I was going to do things before, perhaps bought the gear to do it, planned and planned and planned to do it, but never actually got round to doing it.  So what was different this time?  What had made me fill out that 'Scope London Marathon Application Form', write out the £50 deposit cheque, put it in an envelope and put it in that ER Royal Mail Post Box?

My son.

My son was born in 2003.  One year later in 2004 he was diagnosed with quadriplegic cerebral palsy.  What did that mean?  It meant my boy had tragically suffered brain damage when he was born.  The damaged part of the brain is the part that controls his ability to sit, his brain doesn't send the messages to his torso to say 'sit your body up' so, it doesn't.  He can not sit unaided.  The messages his brain tries to send his legs and arms get confused so they sometimes do what he wants them to, but not with many of the fine motor skills required for it to not be a struggle or very hard work for him.

It was watching him struggle to do the most basic of moves that compelled me to think about the disgusting lazy attitude, I had been taking all these years about the gift of an my own able body.  All those years of driving to the corner shop instead of walking for 5 minutes.  All the times I 'couldn't be bothered to go swimming' or for a bike ride.  All the years I had moaned about having to walk urgghhhhh into town along the beautiful seafront.  What a selfish girl I had been.  What my boy would give to be able to do that huh?

So I decided to try and right some of that wrong and decided that I would look at some of the 'adventures' that the charity Scope offered people to do to raise money for them, that would give me a goal to get fit.  A friend and I mused over the idea of the Inca Trail in Peru, and decided that before we committed ourselves, both of us should try and get fit, because for that trip in the high altitude, you needed better lung capacity.

Being a single mother I did not have the money to join a gym so thought I would start walking and jogging, merely because it was free and I lived in the most perfect area for walking and jogging!  I think because I had been the most unenthusiastic (hear - 'lazy') person with regard to exercise before (just ask my PE teacher - I only managed to scratch a 'D' for effort because I was willing to pack up the equipment after every lesson, not for my athletic ability or want) the fact that I got myself out and complete a 10 minute walk/jog cycle that first day, it made it even more satisfying.  And I love that feeling.  So I tried again, and again and again.

Of course the first issue to overcome was finding the time to fit in the training sessions.  I had a young baby.  Cue my fantastic parents, who I think were so blinded in shock by the fact I was choosing to run that they fell over themselves to help.  In fact they not only baby sat, but my dad dutifully trailed me on his bike (my mum thought it was a safety wise move I think) as of course, most training is done in the cold, dark, cold, wet, cold, snowy (you get the idea) months!

I got signed up to a running magazine which had inspirational stories, ideas, tips and advice.  I got chatting to 'other runners' and felt better when they said sometimes 10 minutes in they felt like quitting too, but likewise when you did complete a run after that it felt even better.  I signed up to local races, and by then well and truly got the bug.  My life took on a whole new timetable and it was great.

About half way through I started blogging about 'the lead up to the marathon' and this was the most useful tool.  I found some great people to chat to and other blogs to read that made me laugh, feel better, sympathise with.  I met those people in person at races we established we had all signed up too.  It was a fantastic network.  And I found that blog all neatly printed a while back, which is what I think gave me the final push to start this blog.

The year I ran, 2005 was the year it rained, cold and miserable, from start - to - 'got so sick of rain dripping off my eyelashes sorry for myself I wanted to sit in one of the tunnels and never come out (well that's how it felt at the time - finish. 

26.2 miles.  That's farrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.

But I didn't realise or appreciate that at the time.  And I was told, it would take year's before I would actually comprehend what I had achieved.  And they were right.  People also said that I would take a break afterwards and probably wouldn't go back to it.  They were right.  I wish they weren't.  Because I never did get back into it.  Life got in the way.  A change of jobs meaning I was working in the city with a long commute was my main excuse.  Then I fell pregnant again and now have 'Mr Energy' himself to contend with 24/7 as well as raising my older son of course.  Excuses, excuses.  And SHAME ON ME.  Because I still have that exact same driving force with me every day and that vigour to want to do it for him, to raise money for the wonderful charities for all those people like my son, should still be there.

And it is, today it has raised it's weary head.  So I plan today to sign up for a local race and set into the schedule times to train.  Hubby, sorry you will be on baby duty at least once over the weekend for training and then my dear family I will need your support on race days.  Then we will see just how much training and stamina building I can fit in to see how high up the length of race ladder I can go!

Maybe I could even start a blog specifically on that, an extra little driving force maybe?

Wish me luck people!


  1. What a moving and inspiring post. Good luck!

  2. That's great that you linked up. Yet another inspiring and gripping story from mrs duck! Running the marathon was a huge achievement. Your parents sound great and so supportive. Amazing that your beautiful boy inspired such a great act in you.


I would love for you to quack your thoughts along with me and will always try and quack right back.