As I come into the final week of trying to run 12 marathons in 12 months, I thought it might be an idea to recap on this year. I’ve barely had chance to think about everything that has happened, so I thought this would be a form of catharsis and help me think about what I’ve done and where I go next. So between now and next Sunday (5th Dec) I thought I’d do a little ‘advent-style’ countdown between now and my last race.
Before you start reading, I warn you that a lot of this will be hopeless rambling and self indulgent babble, namely because I’ve copied paragraphs from my diary and that’s what it is: babble. I started a diary in January to originally copy down my training through the year, over the year when I’ve had a few dark moments, it really has enabled me to get the things bothering me down on paper and out of my head. It has also helped remind me about some of the highlights and things that make me grin. A constant reminder of the mistakes I’ve made in races and how to avoid them. It has enabled me to scribble down ideas and thoughts at all hours of the day.
I don’t know how many of you know how all this got started, but I after visiting the refugee camps of Goma I decided that rather than think that what was happening over in the DRC was awful and move on, I wanted to try and do something. I didn’t want to be the person who thinks that looks awful and walk on. I felt guilty seeing the level of despair in the camps knowing that I was heading back to a place that was secure. If you had met the women I did in Goma I like to think everyone would have wanted to do something, it crushed me, and left me feeling pretty cold for months after. I have been thinking about doing something like this for about 4 years, and I guess those days in Goma were the catalyst to do something.
I’m pretty competitive and want to try push myself as much as possible, so as soon as I decided to run the London Marathon for Amnesty International I instantly realised that, that wasn’t enough – I wanted to go one step further. I don’t think much, and within the space of about 15 minutes I had set up a justgiving site and emailed all my friends telling them that I was going to run 12 marathons in 12 months. I had even managed to get signed up to a couple of races by this time.
I hadn’t really thought about what I had got myself into until the first donation hit my Justgiving site. I’m not going to lie, I was panicking a fair bit, what the fcuk had I got myself into and how do I now get out of it. My dad instantly dismissed the idea as foolish and I think a few people, thought that I’d never do it, it was the stupidest thing I had ever done and I couldn’t get out of it. I’ve learnt now that if you ever need to encouragement to do something, then just tell everyone that your going to do and the concern about denting your own pride will pretty much push you on to do it, I didn’t want to back down. 12 marathons in 12 months, what a ridiculous experiment this was going to be.
I wasn’t in the best condition in November. I remember one occasion coming back from a training run and being so tired that I just got in the house and ate half a jar of jam to give me a sugar rush. I was so shaky that day when I got in the bath that managed to spill my cup of tea all over me in the bath….It was ok though the water was warm and I didn’t really feel it. Bit like when you get shampoo in your eye and the bottle says wash with warm water. The water was warm and it was already there. I’m not sure what this means, but it makes sense in my head, everything was a similar temperature.
The first marathon was down in Gloucester, I was pretty confident approaching this race, I had ran a 3hr marathon in Nottingham in September and I thought it would be pretty much a case of turning up and running a sub-3 hr marathon. This wasn’t to be. Throughout January I had decided to cut out all sugar from my diet. The first half went pretty smoothly, but by about mile 16 I realised how hard it actually was to run a marathon. I was an absolute state, I remember weaving across the road and looking round the bends hoping for any sort of drink or food. At one point during the race I remember picking up a couple of stray jelly babies from the floor and sticking them in my mouth – I could feel the grit on my teeth, but I was just so happy to feel the sugar. Over the last few miles it was dawning on me about what I had got myself into completing another 11 of this would be more than a challenge and that you don’t just turn up and run a marathon, it needed to be respected and I needed to reconnect and think about why I was running, if I didn’t believe in what I was doing then at this rate I wouldn’t complete 2 marathons let alone 12. On the way back from Gloucester I felt quite down about the race, I hadn’t done the best I could and if people were going to support me and take more interest in the DRC then I had to take this much more seriously than I had done before this point. I got the impression at this earlier stage that people didn’t understand why I was running, it was great that people were supporting the challenge of 12 marathons in 12 months, but people didn’t understanding why I had decided to make the decision to do this.
The decision to go back to the DRC was beginning to grow.