I Can't Not Run A Marathon
I can’t not run a marathon.
I’ve recently signed up for my first ever marathon. Now I am not (or, was not?) a runner. I’d dabbled on treadmills every now and again in my teens, and gone for the odd 5k jog around my village here and there, but I always fell out of it for some reason or other.
Then, my mum died in October 2017. We didn’t have a very easy relationship but, the loss was agonizing. It happened so suddenly and unexpectedly that I barely processed it for the first few months. I felt like I was just hovering above, watching this girl I didn’t really know register a death and help to arrange a funeral and carry on with her third year of university. It was me but, it wasn’t. I couldn’t feel anything.
Over Christmas it hit me. I remember trying to decorate the tree with my dad and just sobbing each time I tried to put another ornament on. I even remember one night, after about 3 hours of crying, wondering if I should do something meaningful, you know, do the ‘cliche’ thing after someone dies and sign up for a half marathon for charity.
All of my friends told me that I was doing enough. I didn’t need to prove anything. My dad actually said, "A half marathon is way too far” (ha). So, I let the idea slide.
About a month later, I was back at university and not really sleeping. For weeks, my mum would be in every single dream I’d have, and then I’d wake up and remember that I’d never see her again, that I’d never get a chance to really make things right. It carried on like this until one day, I was at my friend Lewis’ house. He was joking around and told me that he’d done a couple of runs recently and put them on Strava.
He said, “Hey, wouldn’t it be funny if I did the Yorkshire marathon?” Immediately I replied: “We have to do it.” Within the hour we’d both signed up.
So, for the past two months, I’ve been running my goddamn heart out. It started with two very difficult miles around the ancient York city walls, with a lot of breaks and a lot of “oh my God I can’t breathe.” But now, I can run 10k in under 60 minutes, without stopping.
Not only that, but I’m so tired after the runs, that I sleep. I sleep really well. And, I have a goal - it feels damn good. The Yorkshire Marathon is in October 2018, so I’ve given myself about 10 months to train, I think (I hope!) I’ll actually be able to cross the finish line. Not only that, but Lewis and I have both registered our run with the mental health charity Mind. My mum suffered from both anxiety and depression, so it feels right to raise and donate the money in her name.
I’ve actually got my Mind race vest pinned on my wall to remind me to get my arse outside and run, even when it’s snowing!
I’ve attempted to, but I won’t ever be able to fully describe how much running has helped me over the past couple of months, and it’s only the beginning. It’s even led to some of my best friends starting to run again too, and the promise of many Parkruns (a truly great event) and shorter races to come.
When people ask me why I’m running the marathon, the only response I can give is that I can’t not. I just, really need to do this, for me and for her.
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