Tuesday, April 19, 2016

The Long Way Around

Mt. Snowdon in the Mist 2012
This isn’t going to be an easy Blog post to write, not because it’s going to involve big words or complicated ideas, but rather because it involves my emotions.  After stumbling across the tail end of the Brighton marathon on Sunday, I had an increasingly persistent feeling that I really wanted to sign up and be a part of it.  And so I did.  Next year I will take my place amongst the runners on the 9th April 2017 and have a go at running the most iconic length of race there is.  It’s a daunting thought, the longest I have every run is about 10km and the marathon is over 40km long. 

I started to think about the reasons why I really had to do the race.  I wanted to raise money for charity – sure, and the choice of charity was easy this time.   I’ve opted to run for Cancer Research, and you are very welcome to support my effort by making a small donation.  I’ve chosen Cancer Research this time in memory of my mum, who died from lung cancer over ten years ago (December 9th 2005) and for my many friends and family who have been lost prematurely to cancer or a related condition.  I’ve listed a few below, so their names might be recorded, but there were others whose names don’t spring to mind.  So that part of my decision was clear, but there are many other ways to raise money, or simply donate, to charity.  Why was I so keen to set a difficult target for myself and push myself to achieve it?

Part of the answer lay in something that happened a little while back in 2012.  For my wife’s friend Sophie’s 30th birthday celebration, a group of us set out to climb Snowdon.  It was a long and tiring day, some parts easier than others, and when we approached the summit the view was shrouded in fog.  But all the same, I realised I was feeling an emotion that I hadn’t felt in a long time, happiness!  It took me by surprise, I hadn’t even realised that the feeling had been missing, but it had been for a long time.

From roughly 2000 onwards I had suffered the loses of close relatives and friends, more even that just those taken by tumours there were even a couple of suicides (one friend, one client).  I had started the period sadly, but as it wore on and another death was announced, I found myself increasingly numb.  I guess it’s a kind of defence mechanism, you can’t mourn everyone - you’ll bury yourself in an overwhelming weight of emotion.  So I shut down.  By the time my mum died and my long-term girlfriend left me, I had nothing left to give.  I felt sad, sure, but I didn’t cry, and I didn’t laugh anymore.  I found it hard to feel anything about anything.  The long walk up Snowdon reminded me of what I’d lost.  But those kinds of achievements are hard to come by, you can’t climb Snowdon every day, and if you did it would probably start to lose its inspiration.  So I continued to live in my cocoon, but I'd been reminded that the feeling was possible and that I would never forget.

And that is what came into my mind when I considered running the marathon.  The thought that I might chip away at the stone wall and get another glimpse of the sunlit uploads.  Not just happiness though, but a real sense of achievement.  Being part of a group, pushing themselves and trying to do some wider good at the same time.

Oh that, and if I’m ever going to do it, I need to crack on before my knees give up. 
It’s a cliché to say that life is about the journey but, for me, it's always better when you take the long way around.

In loving memory of Margaret Callow, Andy Hewitt, Stevie ‘Normal’ Simmons, Auntie Pearl, Tim O’Brien, Auntie Jill, Auntie Mary and many others.  Safe journey.

PS Feel free to mention your own friend or family member in a Comment if you wish.  My thoughts are with you all.

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