Prior to my rhetoric, I will start with the information that matters. If you are between 16-30 years old and healthy, you can sign up to the Bone Marrow Register through Anthony Nolan, and between 18-55 at DKMS (Delete Blood Cancer). It takes no time and little effort, and could one day give you the opportunity to give someone a second chance at life. #adayforalife seems a fitting way to pitch it in this current era of social media. If you want to find out more about how to get on to the bone marrow register, you can visit the Anthony Nolan site here: www.anthonynolan.org/8-ways-you-could-save-life/donate-your-stem-cells or DKMS www.dkms.org.uk/en/register-now.
My first of many marathons reared its’ ugly head at me this weekend, a humid 23°C reminder that my training plan has been shaky off the ground at best. I shall take a moment to cry a tear of joy that I opted to leave a fortnight between now and my next event.
no most runs do, it started off as a really good idea at the beginning: a mere 6 hours sleep, with the sea breeze whipping through my hair and the early warmth of the day massaging my muscles into action, a far cry from the UK tundra I had the pleasure of doing my training in. But there is always a point in every race where your body screams for you to stop – and much like the crocodile tears of my young niece and nephew, if you ignore it it will often go away. Mind over matter is more than but an inspirational cliché – hardcore athletes embody it as a state of mind. For me, this test of my will came and went an incalculable amount of times, most attributable to my body becoming a black hole for food and drink when it’s feeling overworked.
An unfortunate drawback of aspiring to have the physique of Chris Hemsworth (Google it if you don’t know who he is, thank me later) when you should really be aiming for Mo Farah, is that your body will not suffice for less than a 3-course meal in long distance running. This does make for some logistical issues, having only had a small bag strapped round my waist for sustenance, and takes a huge toll on you as your body runs out of energy. But as I ran in the intense midday sun, always seemingly as far away from the next water stop as I could be, I had a potentially heatstroke-induced epiphany.
Competition has always been my game, and anyone who knows me knows I struggle with “just turning up and having fun”, always having this insatiable urge to win, even against my own previous efforts. But today, I found that this year for me will not be about winning. It won’t be about coming first, or walking away in disappointment if I don’t get the time or result I hoped for. My only goal is to finish, to cross the line and know I had the balls to turn up and do it even though I know there will be times where I will want nothing more than a good spa day (no judgement allowed) or to just relax at home on the sofa doing things a normal 22 year old does at the weekend. If I can make my body go through all this, a body not built for endurance or heat tolerance, that will be my victory. And if I can inspire just one person to believe that if I can do this, they can spit in a tube and join a register dedicated to ensuring everyone has a perfect match, I will be fulfilled far beyond hitting a sub-4 hour marathon. Although don’t get me wrong, that would be delightful.
My next challenge is the “Thames Trot 50” on Sunday 5th February, beginning at Oxford and ending in Henley. What I have taken from today is that I have absolutely no idea how I am going to do it, but in the spirit of my mentality and a nod to those who know how many times I used to still turn up to races hungover, I am just going to do it anyway. What’s the worst that could happen?
If you wish to donate to my madness with a cause, you can click here!