What do you do when you become a year older?
Go out, get so drunk you can’t make it in for work the next morning; get a piercing or a tattoo; get a drastic hair cut; go on holiday; go shopping and spend a ridiculous amount of money?
The options are pretty much endless… and to be honest, getting drunk and dancing like a rowdy mum was all I had planned for my birthday this year.
Until the competitive side of me reared its ugly head and, hearing my boyfriend talk of his marathon training (and raising money for the very worthy Alzheimer’s Society at the same time), I just thought I want to do one too!
However, having torn a ligament in my knee back in February and therefore unable to train, there was no way I’d be able to run a full 26.2 mile-long marathon.
So I signed up for the half.
Right okay, I think I may be literally the worst ever patient a physiotherapist has ever come across, and I think mine is a total trooper for dealing with stubborn little me for this long and not quitting her job, but I reeeeeaaaaalllly wanted to run it.
I raised money for SAMH, the Scottish Association of Mental Health- a charity that is extremely close to my heart- and began training for a 13.1 mile run. Or just over 20 kilometres if you work with those measurements, which I do.
I was dealt a few knocks when I’m training, even getting to the point where my physio said I shouldn’t do the half at all.
There was no way I was backing out.
My mum didn’t raise a quitter.
To be completely honest, even the training was brutal. My longest run before the race was 12km, meaning I had to wing it on the day and do around double the amount.
Bring. It. On.
Race day came round and my boyfriend and I made our way to Edinburgh. My race began two hours before his, and to begin with I was quite peeved I had to roll out my bed earlier than him, but it turned out to work in my favour.
The sun was shining. Hella bright. There were times during the race I really thought I was going to pass out, especially during a particularly long stretch of the course that ran along the beach, as the sun beat down relentlessly.
I wasn’t feeling it on the day I have to admit. My shorts started chafing (the first time I’ve ever experienced chafing in my life) and my feet had already developed blisters by mile 8., reminding me with every step just how far was left. My knee started twingeing by mile 10, and from then I was taking it a mile at a time and praying for it to be over.
God bless the little angels who stood by the side of the course and handed out sweeties to us.
But then the finish line was in sight, and I’ve never felt such a burst of adrenaline. I put in everything I had, ignored the blisters, chafe and knee screaming for me to stop, and sprinted along the last couple of hundred meters.
I could have cried.
But, my boyfriend had only just begun his race, so no one was at the finish line waiting for me.
So I lay on the grass and thought about what I had just done, blood pumping hard through my body, legs shaking, chest heaving. I felt simultaneously ecstatic and emotional, and didn’t really know how to deal with it.
Good thing the charity village had set up massage tables. A lovely lady rubbed my legs for me and chatted to me, and most importantly, told me how proud of myself I should be.
And I was. I’ve never put myself through something so brutal before and I am so incredibly buzzing that I did it. And even more proud of my boyfriend for having run double what I did on that day… and his was later on in the day so the sun burned him good and proper!
Our medals are only the physical rewards we get from that day, but nothing can describe what happens mentally. You tell yourself one second to keep going, but the next you can feel like you’re never going to finish. But, like life, as long as you keep putting one foot in front of the other, no matter how difficult or pain inducing it is, you can get to where you need to be-whether it be 13.1, 26.2, or a thousand miles away. You just need to believe you can.
And you will.