This post was going to be purely about the Beachy Head Marathon. As I sat down to write it I realised it needed to be about something more. It needed to be about strength and weakness. Realising your strengths and accepting your weaknesses.
When I took a fall just a few weeks before the marathon I broke my hand and badly twisted my ankle. At that point I mentally gave up on the race. I was going through a tough time generally and the easiest option was to say I was beaten. That was not necessarily the wrong option either. The hand, being in a cast, made running difficult and uncomfortable but the ankle was the real worry. Running on an injury is never a good plan and could put me out of action for a long time.
Accepting My Weakness
In my head I may have given up but I wanted reassurance from others. Was I right to make this decision? Was I being brave or a coward? I agonised internally and externally and the replies I got were mixed. Most people agreed, I should not run. They told me not to be kind to myself and take time to heal.
Not everyone agreed. A handful of people encouraged me to keep trying. They told me I could get round the marathon if took it easy. So, by asking for advice, I felt no further forward.
Eventually I realised I wasn’t just looking for reassurance, I was asking others to make the decision for me. That just isn’t an option. It is so important to talk to others when we are struggling. To garner respected opinions and share the burden of troubles eases our inner struggles and gives perspective. But we are all responsible for our own decisions. At some point we must learn to listen to what our own mind is trying to tell us, however hard it can be to hear.
Finding My Strength
I have used exercise and challenges to get me through the hardest of times. As things grew harder in other parts of my life the Beachy Head Marathon became a symbol of how to regain my strength. Having been sure I would not run I began to feel I needed to.
As the week of the marathon approached I found my hesitation had helped me. In accepting the weakness in my ankle I had given it a chance to heal. Instead of pushing on and attempting to train I had relaxed and stayed off it. The egg sized lump was now just a bump.
I listened to what I needed. For my own sake, if nothing more, I must make the start line.
The Beachy Head Marathon
In 2016 I loved the marathon. I was still very fit from running an ultra marathon a few months before. The Beachy Head is a trail run, taking in some stunning scenery and brutal climbs. As it is all off road you are also allowed to run with your dog and I was excited to have Brew by my side for his first marathon.
As we stood on the start line my heart swelled with pride to be there with Brew. But in other ways it was tearing apart and I was wrought with emotion as we headed up the first hill.
I made the decision to start at the back and take the entire race at an easy pace. Bottlenecks over the first few miles stopped me from changing my mind and charging forward and we settled into an easy rhythm of running the flat and downhill and walking on the up. Some people speed walk the whole race (there is a 9 hour cut off time), so I had plenty of company at my medium pace.
It was wonderful to chat to others (everyone wanted to know more about Brew the marathon dog!) and take in every breathtaking view. As the miles rolled by beneath our feet I gradually realised I could do this; I was going to make it round.
You Can’t Make It On Your Own
No matter how strong you are you should always allow support from others. I have received massive support from my loved ones in recent and other hard times. At Beachy Head my parents were my support team. Not only did my Dad complete the tough 10k race but they also raced around the course to meet me. They were on hand to take Brew from me if he started to struggle, to hand over my hip flask at the last check point and to cheer me over the line.
I’m an honest and open person and I have to tell you that someone was missing from that finish line. It was tough not to have that person who had, until recently, been my greatest champion there. But my main emotion was elation. As Brew looked up to see why I was so excited a camera snapped and caught a moment I will love forever.
This time last year Brew was in kennels in Romania and now he had merrily trotted 26 miles by my side. The next day he played on the beach as if nothing had happened.
Be Strong, Be Weak, Be You
Today I had the cast taken off my hand. I am so relieved to finally be free. The physio says the break is healed but reminded me it will take another six to eight weeks to be at full strength. It felt very much a metaphor for life. Weakness heals but strength takes time to come.
I loved the Beachy Head Marathon again this year. It took me one hour longer to get round but was as big an achievement as the year before. I am glad I listened to me but allowed kindness from others. In less than two weeks Brew and I have a half marathon then we make our plans for next year!
Never Miss An Adventure!