So, yesterday, I ran 55 degrees North, for 13.1 miles, from Newcastle to South Shields. Cheers to Prof Cox for that little bit of information. To be more succinct, three of my friends, and I completed The Great North Run.
Seven years ago, I ran my first 10k run in Glasgow. Afterwards, I vowed the 10k was the furthest I would ever do. My thighs burned and every other muscle ached. I was painfully under-prepared, and realistically, my fitness level was comparable to Johnny Vegas. But, I powered through, discovering that my determination could override my physical limitations, to a certain extent and when all the lovely endorphins wore off, I’d be left with the Mo F(ar)o of running hangovers. I walked like a broken robot for days after, so much so, I was offered assistance off of a bus, whilst on holiday in Gran Canaria.
Fast forward seven years and two children later and the notion of entering the GNR ballot was proposed to me, by my lovely friend, Debbie. Cheers for that one love. I got swept up in the idea, in a post-backshift haze and signed up for the ballot, four days before it was drawn.
Ballot day arrived, and no mention of a place. I phoned Great North Run people, in the hope that my number was up and someone had forgot to text me. I was out of luck. For the strangest of reasons, I took it very personally, because, you know, why wouldn’t a random computer generated draw pick out my number, did it think I couldn’t rise to the challenge?
Cutting to the chase, I found out that I could still participate. There were hundreds of charities offering guaranteed places, on the premise that the participants could raise a nominal about of sponsorship. I chose CLIC Sargent for various reasons. I’ll post the link, in case people still wish to sponsor me.
So, with that, myself and 3 others became the’21k Gang’, later on, ‘Team WTF’.
My training, until a couple of months or so ago, was minimalist at best. I was running the risk of really struggling to complete the distance and letting down anyone prepared to sponsor me. My work friend Tracy, a seasoned marathon runner, and I ran a wee 5k ‘Color Me Rad’ together. Whilst it was great fun, if she hadn’t been there, I wouldn’t have run all the way round. Her motivation, encouragement and genuine love for running saw me round, but also made me shit myself in fear of what lay ahead. I mean, seriously, my breathing and control made Darth Vadar’s breathing sound like something to aim for. I nearly told Tracy I was her Father, but couldn’t for breathing so laboriously.
And so the training began. I knew I’d have to get my strength up, and I wanted to be able to lift, so my training with Elle and my love for ‘bells began. I tried to run 3 times a week, but who was I kidding. My time management meant I was lucky if I ran once a week. I could complete distances, but I wasn’t confident that I’d be fit enough to run all the way. Then it hit me.
The FI Philosophy.
What if I can’t run the whole way, would people think of me as a loser? Answer, Fuck It.
What if I have to stop and pull out of the race for health reasons? Answer, as long as I raised enough and tried? Fuck It.
What if people laugh at me????? Answer, Fuck It (more to the point, Fuck Them, they’re laughing whilst I slowly lap them like a bad ass).
FI got me through. I slowed down when I needed to, I sped up when I felt strong enough, I drank when I was thirsty, I peed if I needed. I sang, loudly and tunelessly, along with my music. I ran, safely, across the road to high five and fist bump as many people as I could. I danced with Elvis on the way. I got lapped by Teen Wolf and a Wookie. I read the backs of as many t-shirts as I could. The messages were inspirational*. In memory of. In aid of. You get the gist. Who cares if it added minutes to my time? In the end, I was Forrest Gump. I was running. I was moving. I was strong. I was happy. After 2 hours, 39 minutes and 50 seconds, I crossed the line.
We four all had our own reasons for doing the run. Mainly it was fulfilling a challenge and having the knowledge that this was our achievement. I believe it was cathartic for one, if not two of us, as we spoke about it on the way home. Those particular conversations will stay with me and won’t be shared because they’re not mine to share, purely and simply.
Our experience together, as Team WTF, will be blogged separately, because it’s a long blog post, there’re just too many things I want to say.
Am I signing up for next year? Why not? Fuck It. x
*One particular top that struck a chord read ‘For my two boys! No more Fat Daddy.’ At the bottom, there was a before photo. Surely it wasn’t the same person. I know I’m not fat, but here was a guy, who loved his kids so much and wanted to be an inspiration to them, that he was transforming himself, so spectacularly, for them.