I know it sounds like an excuse, but I really have been meaning to update this for a very long time. Call it a severe case of writer’s block – sadly, my creative charm is much slower to recover than my calves. Sorry for all those of you who haven’t experienced the visual delights of this year via Facebook or Instagram in the meantime (this means you, Uncle Dave Sevilla).
I was feeling as though I ought to bring things up to speed in lieu of failing to do so for so long. What’s that? Can spend four hours running a marathon, can’t take an hour to update a web page? Yep, that is the kind of backwards behaviour you can absolutely expect of me. You are welcome.
For the benefit of those who haven’t found the events tab on this blog and do not have the facilities or patience to keep up with my unending torrent of social media, the events completed from the writing of my last entry in July are as follows:
- 16th July – Wycombe Half Marathon
- 29th/30th July – Tough Mudder Yorkshire (Saturday/ Sunday)
- 5th/6th August – Four Peaks Challenge – Slieve Donard, Ben Nevis, Scafell Pike, Snowdon
- 12th August – Helsinki Marathon
- 19th/20th August – Tough Mudder South West (Saturday/ Sunday)
- 27th August – Guernsey Marathon
- 9th/10th September – Tough Mudder North West (Saturday/ Sunday)
- 16th September – Swim Serpentine
- 23rd September – Tough Mudder London South (Saturday)
- 24th September – Windsor Half Marathon
- 8th October – Oxford Half Marathon
- 15th October – Budapest Marathon
- 22nd October – Venice Marathon
- 29th October – Frankfurt Marathon
And some photos to summarise as, ‘pictures or it didn’t happen’.
… just one event left.
It’s the night before I fly to Las Vegas now, a mere 10-hour journey with the one and only Virgin Atlantic to soothe me with free food and tiny bottles of wine before I arrive in my final destination for this year. As I sit here wishing I was sophisticated enough to be confidently swilling a glass of whisky in my hand while writing but instead stuffing my face with cake, I am thinking mostly of how I came to be here. Eleven months since I started and still in one piece.
It was roughly a year ago that I sat in this spot, feverishly researching events, transport, and countries while desperately attempting to fit it all into the schedule. If a lot of time has been wasted running, swimming, climbing and whatever other verbs apply to this bundle of exhaustion, far more time was spent planning to waste it. In theory, my favourite kind of activity. In practice, a coping mechanism.
It’s common knowledge that everyone deals with grief differently – for most though, it starts the same way. Once the original cold shock subsides, it’s replaced by a fierce desire to make something of that unrelenting feeling of passion, that threatens to eat you up inside if left to its own devices. For me, my carefully-drawn 2017 calendar became an emotional punching bag – the aim to land as many hits as possible. Empty weekends were seen as failures, needless leisure time, proof of faltering enthusiasm; so I filled them. Never a thought was given to the fact that I had barely struggled to finish the first and only marathon I had ever done only a couple of months before in preparation for the year. By the time it came to December, my calendar was all but complete; a rich tapestry of varying challenges, designed to make sure that I wouldn’t be getting off easy.
I feel it is a safe time to admit that I didn’t start this year overly confident – a natural short-distance runner proposing a challenge most marathon runners wouldn’t touch. A sense of mortality only came to me on a cold February morning, when I had opted to run 50 miles along the bank of the River Thames in the worst season. After a frankly boggy 35 miles and a successfully massacred self-esteem, I joined the ranks of those cut off and DNF’ed (Did Not Finish) by time constraints. Feeling at this point a bit conscious of what the rest of the year had in store, it was a time where I honestly felt like I couldn’t do it. Little did I suspect I would have reached this point. As I head in to my last event, I feel strangely nostalgic of some just horrendous days, but also some parts that completely altered my perspective on life.
The second half of this year has been much more intense, and yet somehow kinder to me. Summiting at the halfway point in Norway back in July induced a change in mentality that scarily made the last 4 months bearable. Important to note that I said bearable, not easier. There is absolutely nothing easy about the Four Peaks Challenge for example, for anyone who is thinking of giving it a go. Nor, I mean, any of the other events either. It’s a matter of perspective. Does this seem like a happy face to you?
It would be impossible to do it without a goal, and Anthony Nolan – with their goal so simple and so attainable, was a huge drive when things got disgusting. They don’t need to work on a miracle drug because they already have one: us. We are literally the cure for someone else’s illness, while all they need is permission to take from us what we won’t miss – for us to be part of a register so we can be found when someone needs us. And with that, their research only seeks to better assess the compatibility of one person’s genes to another, like tweaking a proven recipe just to make it more effective. Too many people like Alice never find a perfect match, and it is inconceivable to believe that they cannot be out there. We’re always given the choice on whether we have to give a part of ourselves to others, so where’s the harm in being found?
It costs just £60 to put a single person (people in relationships welcome too) on to the register, and that single person could be the one person someone else is desperately searching for. With just Las Vegas standing between me and freedom from 11 months of missed Roast Dinners and achy legs, please help me to make it all count.