What bruised knees taught me about self-development

What was I doing? What?!

The rain was lashing down as the broad Scottish accent was heard booming over the speakers ‘9 minutes until the race starts, runners make your way to your starting areas’. I kissed the girls and made my way to the Purple pen (my starting place). With a black bin bag over me in an attempt to keep me a little warm and partially dry, I took a deep breath and joined my group. What was I doing? A marathon? What?! Who in their right mind would run so bloody far? Apparently I would.
It was a good 15 minutes after the race had begun before I stepped over the start line. Adrenaline pumping and my heart racing. This was it. The moment I had been training for. I got a quick glimpse of my cheer squad, heard them shout my name and then they were gone and I was alone.

Alright I’ve got this!

It was a slow start, which was a good thing. I had advice from a running coach on loop in my head ‘if you don’t feel you are running too slowly, you are running too fast’. The first marker I saw was 3 miles. That was easy I thought. 3 miles done already. Alright I’ve got this! With a spring in my step off I trotted, at an easy pace, focusing on my breath knowing that at mile 9/10 I would see my fabulous cheer squad once again. The rain had stopped and the sun came out (I have proof that the sun was hot as my shoulders actually got burnt would you believe?). The course moved out of the city and down along the beach towards the coastal trail. Yep all was good. Pace tick, breathing tick, body feeling strong tick and mindset positive tick. As I approached the 9 mile mark I looked at my phone which was in its band on my arm. Yep still at a good pace and feeling…..smack! It wasn’t slow motion in any sense of the word, it was a very very hard smack that my knees took the brunt of. As I looked at my phone I hadn’t noticed the speed bump in the road. SMACK. OUCH. GULP. I felt pain in the palms of my hands and a stinging sensation on both knees. Feeling rather stupid I got up quickly and carried on. Tears stung my eyes but I was determined to just keep running and get around the corner where I hoped I would see the familiar and much needed faces of my loved ones. They were right there. Perfect timing. A kiss and a hug and off I went again. A stop for a pee at mile 11 and soon off again to move past the half way point. Still feeling good, the earphones went in and the Spotify playlist was set.

A serious chat with myself

Very few supporters lined the route as we ran further out where access was tricky. I had more space around me too which was great and also added to my feeling of loneliness. As I got to mile 15 I was fighting with the overwhelm. OK I really only had 10 and a bit miles to go but it felt all consuming. Mile 16 my phone rang and as I said hello and as I heard the ‘how are you doing?’ I broke. This was me hitting the emotional wall (the physical one comes a bit later). I cried and walked, feeling alone but knowing that I wasn’t really. After a brief chat and a serious chat with myself, I pushed on.
A grit and determination deep down
The miles went by very slowly until I saw the mile 19 marker. I had never run anything over 18 miles so I was now in unknown territory and also I was absolutely on the homeward straight. Woohoo! Dancing Queen came on my playlist and I found a new little reserve of energy from somewhere. It didn’t last long. By mile 21 the headwind was relentless and it felt as if I was running through treacle. I felt really angry with the weather and honestly couldn’t believe it was blowing a gale right at me. How unfair! I started walking again and made a call. Crying once again and aching all over, I had hit my wall for the second time. This time it was the physical pain that was having the impact. How was my body going to do another 5 whole miles in this wind and with my body hurting this much? Mile 22, 23 and 24 came and went. I have to admit to walking the majority of these miles, still angry and still in pain. There was a grit and determination deep down too that I knew I was going to have to find if I wanted to get over that line and finish with my head held high, so with as much energy as I could muster, I starting running, slowly once again. Mile 25 came and went and then I saw the 26 mile marker. The supporters were out in force and the music and cheering was amazing. Something I felt was missing for so much of the route. As I came around the corner I saw my cheer squad and the tears started. With just 0.2 miles to go I had done it! I WAS a marathon runner and no one could take that away from me.

Just then a hand grabbed mine.

It was my youngest daughter. Then my eldest daughter was there too holding my other hand. With a few hundred metres to go my girls ran with me over that finish line. What a moment, what a feeling of utter euphoria. The relief was immediate. I remember saying ‘I’ve done it, I’ve run a marathon!’ and my daughter shouting ‘You’re a marathon runner Mummy!’

I never ever doubted

The marathon could have beaten me. It was a close call at times, but I never ever doubted I would get over that finish line. It was a goal, a huge goal that at times through my training I wasn’t sure if I would complete, but once I was on that start line I knew there was no going back. The only way to get to the finish was to do it, and I did.

As I sit here with a large glass of red, two very battered and bruised knees and feet that I couldn’t show to anyone right now, I would say if you are thinking about doing a marathon, a half marathon, a 10k, a 5k, a park run or a couch to 5k then just do it!

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