Breaking down barriers – March 2019

I ran (it was more of a plod!) my first half marathon last Sunday – typing those words and saying them out loud still feels quite surreal. I had been a keen casual jogger for several years but 10K was the furthest distance I had ever ran and the last time I did that was in 2016. My running efforts came to a standstill for most of 2017, when for several reasons I became so depleted I barely felt I could run for a bus. During that time I would never have believed that less than 2 years later I would manage 13.1 miles without stopping.
Around this time last year I developed a knee injury which meant that for most of 2018 between physio treatments my running efforts were fairly sporadic to say the least. Around September last year I was speaking to one of my mentors and found myself telling her that I would like to take part in a half marathon once my injury had healed. I couldn’t quite believe I was saying it, although I had always enjoyed running I had never believed that I had any long distance in me, believing that was something that other people did and saved for those who were good at running. That was the story I had continued to tell myself for many years, until that conversation when I was advised to listen to my heart, ask myself what I needed to do to prepare for a half marathon and start believing that this was an opportunity to awaken a new level of mastery within myself. My heart told me that with a healthy knee and positive attitude, along with supportive nutrition I absolutely had a half marathon in me and a new chapter was ready to be written.
In January this year I discovered that a friend of my cousin wanted to take part in the Bath Half Marathon but was keen to do it alongside someone. There was also an opportunity to raise funds for The Grand Appeal, a charity very close to my heart that my cousin has chosen to support following the sudden death of her 9 month old son in February 2018. There was no better reason to sign up, so with 8 weeks until race day our training began. Naomi (my cousin’s friend) and I live about 20 miles apart so we became virtual running buddies sending messages of support and encouragement to each other. It was great to have that support and someone to chat to when the training felt tough but we both felt honoured to be able to take part in memory of Baby Lance whilst raising money for such a great cause and it was that which kept me going on the days where I felt tired or the weather was awful. The generosity and kindness people shared before the race was incredible but I wasn’t quite prepared for the sights I would witness on race day. I found myself amongst a sea of people coming together to test themselves in the name of raising awareness and funds for so many wonderful causes. That in itself was inspiring, let alone the amount of different charities people were running for, some of which I’d never heard of – a reminder of all the great work that goes on in the world. There were people dressed as cows, some wearing head gear and wigs that looked almost impossible to keep on whilst running and a guy wearing a human-size rugby ball! One of the most inspiring sights was a man being pushed in his wheelchair by another guy who looked so happy and honoured to completing such a feat.
It was an overwhelming and emotional experience on many levels but most of all a reminder of how we really can break down our own barriers when we truly start to believe in ourselves.