Once upon a time there was a girl. She didn’t like where she lived. It was bad and she was very unhappy. One day, another bad thing happened and she tried to run away. She didn’t care what happened, she just needed to be away. She just set off running on the adrenaline but she didn’t get far before she had to stop. Aged about 11 it was maybe only 200m before she couldn’t breathe, her heart pounded, and her legs were too heavy. So she had to stop and stand there in the daylight, watching the traffic pass. She was so mad angry at herself – she couldn’t even run a mile. How could she ever run away. Useless. Stupid and useless. She realised that running away was stupid: she had no money, nothing packed and, even if she did, she knew that the dangers outside the house were worse than the ones inside the house. She had hoped that just *wanting* to run would make it happen, that maybe it was meant to be, that her legs would take her somewhere better, but, she couldn’t run. She had never been able to run.
Sometimes other kids chased her, her legs would wobble with panic and she’d fall down and take a kicking (a pattern which continued well into her teens). Nope, she’d never been able to run. Defeated she trudged home.
As she grew up she always wanted to be able to run. She’d watch the London Marathon on TV bewildered at how people could do that. She’d try every now and then but never really get anywhere with it. Sometimes when she mentioned running to her male colleagues they would laugh at her. That’s so slow! That’s not running! So she learned to keep quiet about it. Life, loneliness, lack of motivation would all take over and it’d be forgotten…
Then, a strange thing happened. As a grown woman, obese and broken with mental health problems, she decided to try a bit of couch to 5k. She hated herself so much that she didn’t care about being slow, she just wanted to be able to go, to try, to do ‘something’. Somehow she found herself with a Great North Run place for Samaritans.
The rest, as they say, is history.
First marathon last year.
This year is London and I’m getting to run the GNR again.
I wish I could tell that kid about it. It’s not bad for a girl who can’t run.
It’s quite a special thing when something impossible becomes possible. It lets you dream about what else might be possible. Running does that for me.
Tonight I went out on one of my training runs. A simple 3.5k recovery run. It felt amazing. You know how some runs just suck? Well this was not one of them! Running through the streets reminded me of my feet thudding on the pavement all those years ago and I decided to write this. I don’t know why, like I say, it just feels right. I looked up the stars. I felt connected to the present, to the now. I felt an incredible sense of freedom and good fortune. I don’t have anything to run away from now but I put my trainers on because I like how being able to run makes me feel – like a different person, in a good way. I can’t deny or change the past. I wish I could let it go. Or it would let me go. Either way peace is long overdue. Today my therapist asked why I can’t let it go, why I hold on to the past. I don’t know. It’s certainly something to think about.
I’m going to nail London and I’m going to do it for me. Yes, for the NSPCC and for my own children but firstly, and most importantly, for me.
You get it, right?