As years go, 2000 was pretty eventful…
In the February I reached the ripe old age of twenty-one, tackled the London marathon in April, graduated from University and had my first of several car accidents in August (still no recollection of it to this day), and finally bought my first house in the December.
If you ever feel like going for broke… I’m your girl.
I attended University in Brighton, East Sussex at the Eastbourne campus, dedicated to Sports Science, Physical Education, Physiotherapy and Podiatry. Needless to say I wasn’t the most ‘applied’ student, preferring lay-ins to lectures, but had a great three years and despite my fondness for my bed, came out with a 2:1 and honours to boot.
While this entry isn’t dedicated to University as such, an early experience did teach me the importance of research…
Stood with one of my Uni friends in the kitchen of her flat, she decided it was time to tell me she was gay (living firmly on planet Amie I hadn’t an inking). I should make it clear at this point that I have no time for homophobes, bigots, racists, or other unpleasant members of society; nor did I give a fig which team she decided to play for.
What tickled me most, was the discovery that we had a fairly large gay community on our campus; the vast majority of whom had applied to Brighton with hopes of a carefree, liberated lifestyle, only to find themselves in the blue-rinse capital of Sussex – fondly referred to as ‘God’s waiting room’.
As disappointments go, hers was fairly major.
I should probably get back to the point…
Deciding that 2000 was the year when I would start to seize the day, I secured a marathon place via a children’s charity, and committed to raising £1000 for them in return for my entry. Family, friends and colleagues rallied around me and before long, the funds had been pledged and the training commenced.
Having spent three years studying sport and exercise, I was well-equipped to get myself suitably fit and to prepare, for the first of what would become my bucket list of achievements. My part-time job within the fitness team of a local health club afforded ample opportunity, willing running buddies and facilities to train, so I was well and truly set.
Did I use this to my advantage? Did I heck!
Now we’re not quite talking the late Jade Goody in her tennis shoes here – I had all the fancy event kit and some very nice new silver trainers (which were half a size too small – they cost more in the next size up). It’s fair to say that after a few weeks of running, I decided that my ‘natural’ fitness would probably see me though, and I would be able to go back to my usual routine… of Uni parties and McDonalds breakfasts.
Preparation is key when taking on anything, physical or otherwise, but there is a reason I am famed for my ‘gung-ho’ attitude and refusal to admit (in the short-term at least), that I could often do better when it comes to planning.
Having chosen totally the wrong place to spend the night prior to the event, the following morning was spent in a tornado-like rush. The train was caught by the skin of my teeth and breakfast – consisted of a pot of fruit salad hastily munched on the train. Not really the appropriate fuel for the day’s activities…
Reaching the starting point with the rest of the fun/slow/charity runners, I was surrounded by a plethora of colourful characters. Giant Rhinos, London buses and a group of guys dressed as chickens accompanied the rest of us, caught up in the atmosphere and raring to go.
Not wanting to spend the entire distance alone, I introduced myself to the lady next to me and asked if she’d like a companion for the run. Admitting that her nerves were as frayed as mine, she readily agreed and together, we embarked on the famous journey.
Our partnership didn’t last long. After the first mile she stopped, announcing there and then that if she went any further she would probably die; promptly whipping out her mobile phone and calling for rescue. wishing her all the best, I carried on , smugly feeling that my training must have been ok after all.
Despite enjoying the surges of energy from the crowds and the thrill, of running past the famous landmarks, my confidence was short-lived. As I hit the sixteenth mile, an old hip and knee injury reared its ugly head, artfully aided I am sure, by the excess stone and a half I was carry and the dodgy, but very pretty trainers that my feet had been shoe-horned into.
As the pain grew I was reduced to a walk, then a hobble as my toes decided to join the party and my lower body began to feel like it might actually fall off before the day was out. At mile twenty I was overtaken by the clean-up coach, collecting the participants who had admitted defeat and were waiting on the side of the road to be retrieved.
I’d be lying if I said there wasn’t a moment where I was tempted to climb aboard (runners tummy had kicked in and the sports drinks had run out), but failure was not an option and I gritted my teeth, determined to make it to the end. Picking up a fellow stray shortly after, we agreed to get each other across the line no matter what, and arm in arm we made our way to the finish.
The thing with any event is that at some point, they have to pack up and go home, and as we completed the last gruelling miles of the course, we spotted the finish line… in the process of being dismantled. Having completed the route in just under seven and a half hours (I think the guy in the massive diving suit may have had a time close to mine) I was well and truly broken.
With pain so bad I could barely hold my weight, I was swiftly wrapped in Bacofoil and guided to a seat. Thankfully the very kind people of St John Ambulance gave me a lift to the train station, where I sat in a crumpled heap, until finding my way home and crawling into my beloved bed.
Having read this far, I doubt I have inspired you to have a go…
Do I have any regrets about doing it? Surprisingly none.
I could say that I wish I had trained harder, had lost some weight, bought some proper runners and avoided spending a week on crutches, but we all know that hindsight is 20:20.
The experience tested my mind as much as my body, confirming to myself that I’m made of some pretty strong (some might say ridiculously stubborn) stuff.
I get that from my Granddad, the man who I miss dearly, and who spent the entire day of my marathon effort recording and re-winding, in the hope that he might spot his naughty little Granddaughter as she made her way past the cameras.
Would I do it again?
Never say never…
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