This one time, I did a half marathon. The Great North Run to be precise.
I don’t know what I was thinking if I’m honest. I think I was having mental thoughts as I’d been through a lot in my life at that point; I’d recently lost Mummy, my long term relationship had ran its’ course and I was 30, single and back living in my childhood home.
My family is all a bit sporty, apart from me. So when I heard myself agreeing with one of my brothers, Richard, that I’d undertake this exercise, I genuinely thought I’d lost the plot. You see I’d agreed to this half marathon two weeks prior to the event and as an act of generosity to surprise my little sister, Joey, as Richard has Kenyan blood in his veins and was planning to sprint off and win this thing.
Never run 13 miles with no training. The first 4 or 5 miles were piss easy, the crowds carry you through and you’re emotional reading everyone’s t-shirts with their reasons for running. “Running for Mummy” read ours, and I was a wreck as people ran past me and slapped me on the back in acknowledgement and support.
We ran and ran and then I did something rather stupid. I stopped. Or rather Jo made me as she needed to pee. Now don’t get me wrong, she didn’t literally do a Paula Radcliffe on me, but metaphorically speaking she may have well have. Once I’d stopped I couldn’t get moving again, it was as if my legs knew what my brain had failed to engage, which was with another 9 miles to go, they simply thought “fuck it”.
Somehow I struggled on, on my own as Jo had run off and left me on my jack jones (so much for sisterly love) and I ran, or rather half walked the rest of the way, literally crying until I hit about the 9 mile marker. When you hit this spot (or there abouts), you run through a really run down council estate. At this point I was walking, very slowly as my hips had started to seize and my trainers were rubbing like a bugger. As I walked the mile or so through this estate, I couldn’t help but be completely overwhelmed by the sheer generosity of the people who lived here. Clearly not a wealthy area by any means, the community were out in their droves, offering bucket loads of mood enhancers from satsumas to biscuits and jelly babies. Human beings financially very poor but with the biggest hearts – offering what felt like an absolute lifeline; that’s something money can’t buy. Nor can it buy humility.
I’m not sure if it was the humility that so moved me or the fact that the hard end in sight wasn’t too far away but I sprinted the next 3 miles and then hit a massive wall as I approached the last mile stretch. Mentally and physically knackered, I felt like I’d been hit by a ten tonne truck. Never, ever again I thought am I doing this – this is my own stupidly at its’ best. I stopped where I was and even the sight of the British Army’s finest couldn’t spur me on. Stood crying my eyes out and feeling very sorry for my sore little self, my little brother ran up to me from the side lines (having crossed the line somewhat an hour or so earlier) shouting at me spurring me on. Well in that moment, I turned in to the biggest cry baby the North East had probably ever seen. I was paralysed and couldn’t move I hurt so much and if it hadn’t been for my brother running alongside me in the spectator area, there’s no way I’d have crossed that finish line – 1 mile or not to go.
But I did cross that line and I did finish it and second only to delivering Harry into this world, it’s my second greatest achievement. I swore I’d never do a half marathon again as it took me close to a week to be able to walk properly afterwards, and nearly destroyed me mentally, however four years later and I’m contemplating doing it all over again.
Don’t do it I hear you yell and you’d be well within your right to shout that, but me being me doesn’t ever learn from my mistakes!
Tip though Jenny from your 2011 self, please train, like a bitch to save everyone a shit load of earache and whining and another blog moaning about how you one time did a half marathon….