26.2 reasons why I run
Posted Friday 20 April 2012
This Sunday, Liz will run the London Marathon in memory of her mum, who took her own life 12 years ago. Here, she celebrates all those who've been by her side as she prepares for the challenge.
Four years ago, I got up from the couch where I had lazy-dazily dozed all day, put on a pair of old trainers and declared that I was going for a run. I stepped out of my front door and jogged ever so slowly for approximately half a kilometre down the road, before running out of breath and cramping up.
I limped back home, beaten yet invigorated. A tiny seed had been planted in the very centre of my soul. A tiny running seed that would quietly cultivate a flourishing new me.
This coming Sunday, I’ll be running the London Marathon.
I am scared that my legs will not be strong enough. I am scared that I will not have the mental resilience to pull me through to the finish line.
To combat my fears, I’ve created a list to carry with me on the day, which I will look at as I pass each mile marker. On this list, I’ve written the names of the people who have joined me on my 4races4cites marathon journey.
Some of these people have literally run beside me, or been there for an encouraging chat, and others have cheered me on from the side lines by sending text messages, emails, commenting on my blog posts, ’liking’ my Facebook statuses, retweeting my tweets and sponsoring my fundraising mission.
These miles are for you.
Mile 1 is for my sister. Catherine has been with me from the start, long before the 4races4cities project was even conceptualised. She supported me not only at my very first race, nearly 4 years ago, when I ran 5K in memory of mum, but over the 12 years since we lost her. Her strength inspires me. I love you, big sis.
Mile 2 is for the bloggers, Noa, Lori, Helen and Jess, who helped me spread the word about my 4races4cities project by writing about me on their own blogs, as well as Alexandra, Jerrod, Jen, Laurenne, Victoria, Heidi and Kelly, who have retweeted my blog posts and fundraising website to their hundreds and thousands of Twitter followers. They’ve reached out to me through the power of the internet and touched my heart. Thank you.
Mile 3 is for Sue, a wonderful woman who has helped me through some tough times over the last year and a half. Sue has listened to me without judgement as I’ve faced my demons and discussed the darker aspects of my soul. I’m a better person for working with her.
Mile 4 is for Louise, a dear friend who advises me about what I should be eating and sends me links to running and well-being articles, as well as encouraging me to start doing yoga (I will, I promise). Louise, your advice has been invaluable to me, thank you!
Mile 5 is for Brandi Carlile. Her music lifts me on the training runs when my determination waivers. Also, she’s totally hot, and when I found out that she was a fellow gal who likes gals, I added her to my laminate lists of famous people I totally ‘would’.
Mile 6 is for Lisa. I held you at arm’s length when I met you as I didn’t want you to be part of my Dad’s life. Over the years, we’ve grown closer and closer, and I’m thankful that we’ve managed to develop a relationship that overlooks the typical ’step mum/step daughter’ set up, and defines us as friends instead.
Mile 7 is for Emma, my best friend. I wrote a post about her not so long ago. Emma is coming to London to cheer me on next Sunday, and mile 7 will be where I’ll see her for the first time on the marathon course. Emma and I grew up together; she knew my Mum during happier and healthier times and provides a link to childhood memories that I cherish so very dearly.
Mile 8 is for Jeff, my brother in law. When I first met Jeff, over 14 years ago, I was a scrawny teenager with wild hair, a macaroni cheese habit and a penchant for wearing all-in-one pyjamas. Not much has changed – although I am definitely less scrawny. Thank you for being my big brother (and putting up blinds for me).
Mile 9 is for Abby. I first ‘met’ you when I stumbled upon your blog. I admired you from afar for several months, before working up the confidence to mention you in a post that was inspired by something you’d written on your own blog. From then on, we emailed and shared our stories, and even though I haven’t met you in person, (dammit, Atlantic ocean), I feel like you’re as much a friend to me as the ones I sit with weekly and drink coffee. You are an extremely talented writer, and your work manages to eloquently bridge the gap between ‘funny’ and ‘poignant’. It’s a gift, hold on to it.
Mile 10 is for my nephew, Joseph. You’ve grown from being an inquisitive, blue eyed boy into an intelligent, thoughtful and caring young man. You display such protectiveness towards your little sister, in the same way that my big sister (your mum) did for me. Your Nanna loved you more than anything, and when you were born, you seemed like the only one who could pull her out of her own darkness. You only knew her for a very short time, but know that your presence brought a glimmering light in her often troubled last years with us.
Mile 11 is for my niece, Hannah. Your arrival in our family came at a time when we were all nursing our wounds and learning to walk again. Your well-timed witty remarks, even as a toddler, never fail to brighten up a room. Your creativity, especially your talent for penning poetry, astounds me. Keep writing, keep dreaming, keep being you.
Mile 12 is for Jenny, Nicola, Sarah, Helen, Becky and Heather. I don’t see any of you as much as I’d like as a consequence of the miles between us. Your support, however, is never far away. I love you all.
Mile 13 is for Richmond Borough Council. Other than the fact that you charge me extortionate amounts of money per month in council tax, I would like to thank the people who are responsible for keeping the parks and riverside paths where I run, in such wonderful condition. I feel lucky to live in such a beautiful part of the world.
Mile 14 is for Lily, my cat. Thank you for licking my legs when I get in from a run. It’s actually pretty gross that you do that, but I am under the impression that you’re being affectionate, so erm, thanks.
Mile 15 is for Terry in Australia. You found me via my blog, and since then, we’ve become email friends. As a mum who suffers from depression yourself, you’ve helped me to understand and find peace with my mum’s story. I think you’re a remarkable woman with such a robust attitude towards life.
Mile 16 is for Phil Tudor-Wren. You’ve supported the 4races4cities project from day one. You’re always the first to like my updates and Facebook statuses, and you have provided me with bags of invaluable information as I look to progress my career in a direction that will fulfil me, just like you did. Keep doing what you do.
Mile 17 is for Kristin. This is the mile, during my training, that I’ve always struggled with for some reason, so knowing you’ll be stood there, cheering me on, fills me with calm. I cannot thank you enough for your support over the last year.
Mile 18 is for the enigmatic long-distance runner Michael Randall Hickman, known to many as Caballo Blanco. A year ago, I picked up your book and read it in one sitting. To say you inspired me is an understatement. Rest in peace.
Mile 19 is for is for my Nanna. Your life has not been without tragedy and yet you remain the strongest woman I know. The matriarch of the family, you’re so much more than just a Nanna to Catherine and myself, and you’ve provided a home from home for us both when we venture back up North. You never fail to amuse me with your extremely un-PC comments and the fact that you only attend church services because the coffee is cheap. I’ll attempt to wave at the television cameras as I cross Tower Bridge on Sunday, I know you’ll be watching and waving. I love you.
Mile 20 is for Priscilla. We ran our first half-marathon together in May 2011, and our second in March this year. Our friendship has surpassed anything I could have imagined, you’ve been a constant pillar of strength for me, not only with my running endeavours, but in my personal life too. I always enjoy our riverside runs which combine marathon training with a therapy session. Thank you for raising money for the 4races4cities project, it means the world to me.
Mile 21 is for Blogilates. Your Pilates videos cause me such pain, but my running has improved no end since I started working on my core. Still no six-pack though, goddamnit.
Mile 22 is for Tim. You ran with me during the winter months when it was cold and icy and helped me to increase my speed by always (annoyingly) running ahead of me (because you’re such a competitive ass). Our friendship has evolved so much, and I feel running has helped us to create the beautiful kinship we possess. I’ve never been best mates with a boy before, but our friendship feels so organic and fluid, especially when we spend our evenings chatting and comparing notes about hot girls. Keep running, Timmy.
Mile 23 is for Mind, the mental health charity. The work you all do is second to none. I am proud to raise money for such a hardworking, dynamic and inspirational charity.
Mile 24 is for my Dad. The most important man in my life. When I am lost, you guide me. You have such a loving heart, and despite it being smashed to pieces in the most traumatic circumstance, you continue to share it with the people around you, especially those less fortunate. I love you, Papa.
Mile 25 is for every single person who has donated to the 4races4cities project. Just when I imagine I can’t feel any more overwhelmed by your generosity, another donation comes in and I’m on my knees once more. I know that a lot of people ask for sponsorship money these days, and it’s all too easy to just ignore my fundraising pleas and rambling emails, so thank you, from the bottom of my heart. By all accounts, mile 25 is one of the worst of all the miles as it’s so near, yet so far. And so I will think of the support I’ve received from all of you, and try my best and run it with a smile in my heart.
Mile 26.2 is for my Mum. The aching void that bore into my chest the day you left us behind has never healed. I miss you every day and often lie at night trying to remember what your voice sounded like, I haven’t heard it in over 12 years. Gosh, 12 years, Mum, you’ve missed out on so very much, but we’re all doing ok and looking out for each other.
It’s taken me a while to come to terms with my grief, I hid it for a long time, but I feel like I’ve finally found peace, as I hope you have. Thank you for sending the robins as a sign to show you are still around. I see them all the time when I’m out running, and I always whisper ‘hello’ as they hop from branch to branch. Sunday is for you, Mum, your name will be on my running vest and I’ll wear it with pride in your memory. This last mile and a bit is for you, Mum. Lots of love, from your daughter, Liz.
Read the full version of this post on Liz's blog. Visit her fundraising page to make a donation and follow her on Twitter.
If you're having thoughts of suicide, there are places you can turn to for support. The Samaritans are always there to listen on 08457 90 90 90.
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