In order to succeed you have to be prepared to fail

In my last post I wrote about the difficulties I was having in the build up to the Snowdonia Marathon.  In all honesty I thought it was very probable that I would have to drop out.   

Things actually got worse after I wrote that post – I came down with a cold which stopped me running for another precious week.  As an asthmatic who is prone to bad chest infections I just cannot run when ill.  I really thought it was the final straw.

I had already missed too much training to have any hope of running this marathon at anything like the speed I wanted to do it in.  And this led to a real dilemma for me.  I care about the times I do.  I’ve done some OK times at marathon distance, and my long term aim is to improve on those times.  I had wanted this marathon to demonstrate to me that I was running well enough for this to be possible in the next couple of years.  The injuries meant that the best I could hope for was to jog round.  I had to decide whether I was OK with that. 

An even bigger question I had to answer was how would I cope if I started the marathon and had to stop.  As I wrote in my original post, dropping out at 19 miles in the London marathon in 2011 had destroyed my running confidence for a long time and I did not want to go back there. 

I had to get well and try some running before I could answer these questions.

My cold lifted last Monday, 6 days before the race.  So I ran 6 miles as gently as I could.  The pain in my right glutes, hip and leg was still there.  Better than it had been but definitely there.  More worrying was the fact that I had no pace, the tightness in my muscles seemed to be affecting the way I was running.  If I was to have any hope of being on the start line I knew I had to try a longer run.  The weeks before a marathon are meant to be taper time, when you rest your body for the challenge ahead.  But last Wednesday, 4 days before the Snowdonia marathon, I ran 13 miles.   I had to do it, because if I couldn’t be sure my body would cope with a longer run then I couldn’t stand on that start line.   Again I shuffled slowly, but crucially the leg felt slightly better.

I decided that it was worth a gamble.  I had already grieved for the marathon time I had originally wanted.   I had cried a lot of tears over this race but I had come to the acceptance stage, where I knew that the run I had wanted was gone.  But I had answered my first question.  I would rather run it slowly than not at all.  The beautiful course at Snowdonia was part of the reason why, but also was the desperate desire to find a postitive in all the bad luck I had had, and to do this for PSS, the charity so close to my heart.   

So, question one answered.  But what if I dropped out?  Would it break my heart as much as last time?  In the end I decided no.  I was going into this race with my eyes wide open, fully aware that I might not finish it.   But I would rather try and fail than sit at home and always wonder what if. 

And so I finally decided, late on Wednesday, that I would go to Wales, stand on the start line and take it a mile at a time.  I would run nice and slowly and I would stop if I needed to, and I was OK with that.

I’m not exaggerating or being coy when I say that I started the race honestly not knowing if I could make it round.  I had missed so much training and my body seemed to have let me down so much at a crucial time, echoing lots of the emotions I had when I had had HG.   The plan was to run to half way and then run/walk as needed.  In fact I ran most of it.  I stopped to hug my precious daughters every time I saw them as they followed me round the course.  I stopped to take photos.  I chatted to other runners and to the marshals, and I walked for a bit on the infamous last steep hill.  But other than that, my body finally gave me a break and allowed me to run – and I finished it, a whole marathon – in Snowdonia!

I realise I have come a massively long way in my fitness journey just to be able to complete this brutal course.  There are three massive massive hills in this beautiful run.   And it’s 26.2 miles, which I can confirm is a really really long way!  I loved it.  It meant the world to be there, and I felt so lucky to be able to do it.

The finish line was really emotional.  So much tried to stop me on the way and it has actually made me realise that I am strong, not weak.  I didn't give up even when the odds were stacked against me and I am so so proud of myself.

I haven’t posted the link to my sponsorship page lately, mainly because I had no idea as to whether I would be able to do it.  But I did it.  And I am so proud of myself. PSS is a very deserving cause and remains close to my heart.  I thought about my pregnancies a lot during the run on Saturday, about how far I had come, and how lucky I am to have my beautiful girls.  I thought about the charity, and about the women I am currently supporting, and the very difficult journeys they are enduring.  And I hope that the work I do for PSS makes a difference to people, and I want the charity to grow and succeed in all it’s aims.