Well I’ve finally got my head round it.
My problem with asking for sponsorship for my autumn race was that in my head it really needed to be a full 26.2-mile marathon. In the past I have used my full marathons to raise money for mountain rescue, cancer research and Oxfam, and have been proud of what I have achieved. I have run 37 half-marathons prior to this – a couple a year, generally – and because they are “business-as-usual” for me I do not think it is fair to ask people to part with money for that.
A full marathon is a special thing though, even for a regular runner. The demands of the training and the day itself (and the impact on the runner’s family) are infinitely greater than 2-x-half-marathon, and that special endeavour justifies asking people for a special gesture.
And this Autumn Marathon was certainly going to be a special endeavour for me, even aside of the “normal” training. It might very possibly turn out to be my last attempt, which gave it an extra value, an extra justification for asking – whether it ended in a medal, or injury and acceptance of the inevitable end. Trouble is, it ended in…. well, none of the above, not a heroic failure of athletic endeavour, but of an entirely unrelated medical setback. Bugger!
- I am still doing the event. I will run on the day. Last year’s absence was only my second in 19 years, but despite this year’s scare I am back. I will be at Robin Hood.
- I have continued to train. I have done the work. I have been out despite the new job, the rain and mud and wind, and the heat and early-starts of a summer holiday*.
- I have not done this to the punishing levels of a full-marathon programme, but I have found something new inside me and pressed on despite the performance-inhibiting drugs I am now on, and despite the people who said I’d have to stop. Too often, it’s felt like complete shit, and I’ve been on my knees gasping. But I’ve fought it and come out of the other side. I’ve questioned the very reasons why I run, wondered why I continue, when the joy has been chemically extracted. Then, I’ve fought on some more. Truth be told, I’m still fighting that; but I’ll win. I may not be running 26.2 miles, but this has been a marathon emotionally.
- It’s not a marathon, but it’s still 13.1 miles. Not many of the people who I will be asking to sponsor me could do that. Actually many could if they really committed to it, but they don’t. I am.
- My charities and the people who they help are no less in need than they were. And it is still true that becasue they are small and unfashionable – and suffer ignorance and misunderstanding – they really need the help, inckuding any extra awareness I can generate. More so than, say, something like British Heart Foundation. Just as an example.
On the anniversary of my Dad’s death this year, a hospital consultant looked me hard in the eye and adopted a “listen very carefully to what I am about to say” voice. That day in August is always difficult, but it seemed particularly cruel to pick that date to give me an appointment. Grief Encounter talk about the Calendar of Minefields and how special dates and even everyday things like music can bring the suppressed hurt to the surface. Not many weeks go by without a news-story about another family broken, leaving more children carrying darkness; more memories.
I have met yet another person recently who – while on the surface high-powered, talented, successful and respected – struggles with eating issues. Another family is concerned at how their daughter will manage things in the new environment of university. More and more I am convinced that these issues are silently hurting families and people – men and women, of all ages – far more than anyone realises or admits.
Just because I can’t do what I wanted to, doesn’t stop me doing what I still can.
On my full-marathon plan, this last month was intended to be a full-on barrage of Geldof-style get-yer-f**ing-money-out-NOW and awareness-raising tweets and blogging. Instead I have been procrastinating, and waiting on a final hospital result. I am bitterly disappointed and feel that I have let down B-eat and Grief Encounter with my half-marathon half-measures. But I said from the outset that it wasn’t just about fundraising it was also about awareness, so if you have read this far then take a few minutes to look at Grief Encounter and b-eat just in case you ever need them; better still, pass on the details to a few friends and family.
Free Money !
And finally, one other thing I have juggled recently is starting a new job in early July. I now work for O2 and am proud to say so: one reason for that is that while many companies talk about community and environment and sustainability, O2 Think Big has a very real and active programme to actually do stuff. No really, they actually DO real stuff. Like setting real targets for people to get involved in their local community and giving actual time-off for it, and …… <drum roll, dramatic pause> …… matching employees’ charity fundraising with real cash. So, …er, what was that expression? Oh yeah, get-yer-f**ing-money-out-NOW because if you go to my fundraising page here and put just £1 it will miraculously become £2. FREE MONEY! Just do it. Thank you.
So, ten days to go. Time to shake the collecting-tin. Donate some cash if you can; failing that some eyeballs and a few mentions will be just fine, thanks.
Oh, one final thing: today’s session with the consultant ended with “… so no marathon this year, ok. No reason why you shouldn’t plan for one next year though, I’d say.”
So brace yourselves: my 2014 Marathon programme starts here.
* – I say that like its a trialm or hardship. It’s not; I love it really. But you know what I mean.