There is a lot written all over the ‘net about getting started. Often including the wonderful Lao-tzu quote:
A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.
Lao-tzu, The Way of Lao-tzu
My journey will only be 26.2 miles, but my single step happened incredibly quickly.
On Sunday morning, I was sitting enjoying the graceful ease and unimaginable speed of the elite men and women tearing around the Virgin London Marathon course. I was marvelling at the tireless efforts and dedication of ‘the masses’, joining in the chatter on Twitter with a bunch of my friends who are runners of all kinds.
I’ll happily admit that I’ve wanted to run the London Marathon for many years, since even before my transplant when it truly did seem like an impossible goal.
My brother ran in 2006 and for my birthday that year, he framed his winner’s medal with the legend “Live the Dream” underneath it. It still makes me emotional every single time I see and think about that mounted medal.
In 2008, he ran again, just 4 months after my transplant, in the Tresco Marathon – the world’s smallest marathon run on the same day as London, the world’s biggest2. Not only did he run it, but he gathered up a squad of 12 marines who ran it with him, in formation, wearing full kit with 30lb (13.6kg) backpacks.
The challenge to me – given as an ultimatum when I was at my lowest ebb in my post-transplant recovery – was that if they were doing it, I had to come and run the last mile with them.
That mile was the most challenging physical event of my life.
Knowing they wanted to break the 5-hour barrier for the distance, they met me at the top of the hill with 1 mile to go at a time of 4hrs47mins on the clock. In my (very short) training period, the best I had managed to cover the 1,500+m that remained was 15mins.
We set off down the hill, them hanging on their chinstraps, me fresh as the proverbial daisies and I went off too quick. Luckily for them3, I couldn’t sustain the pace and ran/walked the last mile as quick as I could.
Their finish time? 4.58.16 – I’d run a 4 minute PB of 11 minutes for the mile.
Many things came out of that experience, not least some wonderful, enduring friendships, a love of the Scilly Isles, nearly £5,000 for the CF Trust and a humbling realisation of how much my story – and that of all transplant recipients – can inspire people.
I’ve wanted to tackle a marathon ever since, but I’ve always struggled to keep up with any training or to stay fit enough to deliver any results – one of my life’s biggest regrets.
Despite all of my previous – albeit vicarious – marathon experience, I wasn’t sure I was ready to commit to next year’s race, so I challenged Harry to raise pledges of support.
I suggested that if he could raise £150 in pledges of donations on Sunday, I would commit to it. £150 seemed like a fair target to me: high enough to make it hard work, low enough to be achievable.
By 6pm Sunday night, the total pledges had reached a remarkable £385, including 3 running mates. I was floored.
In the face of such overwhelming support and positivity, there was no way I could back out of my end of the bargain.
If you want to keep track, I’ll be blogging it intermittently – hopefully weekly – here, but I’ve started a separate training log here.
Being only 2 days in, things are at their very early stages, but such was the support from the few people who were watching Twitter and Facebook on Sunday afternoon, I’ve decided that this should be bigger than just me and a marathon.
Getting started at something is usually a simple case of momentum. Like a boulder rolling down a hill all you really need a is that little push to get you started before your pace starts to gather and everything takes on an air of inevitability.
Sometimes you need a shove that’s harder than you may be able to give yourself, whether that’s through fear of failure, fear of whatever it is you’re undertaking or something unique to you that’s holding you back.
I’m blessed to be surrounded by such wonderful and supportive friends and family, people who never ask “Why?”, only “What can I do to help?”.
It’s this “peer pressure”4 that I know will keep me going over the next 12 months in the build-up to the event and that will help me carry on moving forward during the run itself.
There are so many people in my life who won’t be here to see me achieve one of the greatest things in my life, but I know that every single one of them will be on the start line with me.
How much more motivation do you need?
Run when you can, walk if you have to, crawl if you must; just don’t give up.
Dean Karnazes, Ultramarathon Man
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Some other posts you might like:
- Stepping up
- Adventure doesn’t have to equal ‘crazy’
- External motivation
- Remarkable women, remarkable friends, remarkable lives
- Infinite Possibilities