Half a marathon sounds a lot easier than it actually is.
As I stumble around, walking like John Wayne I’m looking back on the first stage of my own ‘Chasing the Stigma’ campaign.
I won’t lie, I wasn’t ready for the Liverpool Half Marathon. I realised that when I got out of breath running up the stairs the night before. I sat there, gasping for breath, took the sausage roll out of my mouth and thought – this isn’t going to end well.
I started to think about how I could possibly get out of it? I was starting to get really scared. 13 miles is a fucking long way. It’s not like you can just stroll through it. It’s a commitment. A commitment I genuinely wasn’t ready to make. It seemed like a good idea all those months ago but in reality, it was a step too far.
But then I started to think about my reasons behind signing up. The reason people sponsored me. The reason I freely volunteered to put my body on the line and through hell, not just for this event for the others too. I started to think about where my life had come over the last few months. I looked at the good luck messages people had sent me. People who were genuinely benefiting from what I was doing. That is why I was doing it. That is why I was willing to throw myself at it and that is why I was more determined than I had ever been in my life.
By about mile three I was done. Nobody told me there’d be a fucking hill involved. I even had a true ‘Nam’ moment when I told my friend to leave me behind – “Go on without me”. He did.
So I was alone for the rest of the run and it was the best thing that could’ve happened.
Although I wasn’t prepared physically, I kind of expected that. What I wasn’t expecting was how unprepared I was emotionally and mentally.
It didn’t even occur to me beforehand but running that distance, for that amount of time was one of the most strangely emotional experiences I’d ever had.
There was something about being alone with your own mind and thoughts, running on empty with your body ready to give up at any given moment, that made you physically and emotionally vulnerable.
The only thing getting you through is yourself. You search inside for encouragement, anything to will yourself on. Desperately looking for that internal cheerleader, anything to spark emotion and adrenaline.
Seeing people all doing the same thing, for so many different causes. With pictures on their backs or logos on their chests. It was incredibly inspiring and moving.
A few times I wanted to give up but each time my mind wouldn’t let me. It’s funny that here I was being carried over the line by the same mind that convinced me life wasn’t worth living not so long ago.
I’ve come a long way over the last year but that 13 miles seemed the longest. I have shin splints, I have torn muscles and I have blisters but I have that medal, I have that pride and most importantly I have people talking about Mental Health issues.
I will continue to Chase The Stigma for one reason only – I have never felt more strongly about anything in my life. The more we talk the better we will all be. I have no doubt in my mind that talking alone will save lives. So let’s do it.
I’ll continue to run and give everything I have for this cause. I am determined to chase the stigma.
I will be running the Liverpool Tunnel 10k on Sunday. If you would like to sponsor me, you can do so here.
Thank you for your support.