The highs and the lows of marathon training: Cake loving girl plods on with a little help from her friends
My latest blog comes to you as I face less than one month to go before I commence the challenge of running this year’s London Marathon for The Donkey Sanctuary as part of the Golden Bond team.
The highs of running are simply spectacular with an open road to call your own personal gym. Chasing tarmac down mile after mile is addictive and you push yourself to run further than you have ever done before. There is nothing like the utterly smug feeling of embracing an early Sunday morning run and to be safe back home showered and refreshed to a welcoming piece of cake before the rest of your street has drawn their curtains for the day.
I thought I was prepared for the physical side of training: researching and choosing marathon training plans to suit me and my life. What has caught me somewhat unawares is the emotional journey the past few months has taken me through. On more than one occasion my incredibly supportive husband (now sporting the title of head coach) has found me crying my heart out in a bath of Radox, and not even a piece of the finest coffee and walnut cake could fix me.
With a gruelling 12 weeks of a 16 week training programme completed and approaching 300 training miles, I needed my body to step up a gear to perform runs of 13 miles plus. However, my body had other ideas and started to break down from the effects of constant repetitive running which I am simply not used to. Blistered toes, stiff hamstrings, red raw bleeding rash under my bra line, weak ankles, and even a blister on my ear from my earphones and sunglasses rubbing! A couple of runs then didn’t quite go to plan leaving me very disillusioned, downtrodden and very emotional. My confidence hit an all-time low, self-doubt kicked in and the tears started. For the very first time in this process I was worried about letting the charity down, and wondering if I could complete this marathon without literally having to crawl on my hands and knees. This is tough. Really really tough.
However, unexpected help arrived in two very different forms within a few days of each other.
The first came from a family visiting our Centre at Ivybridge. As the Centre Co-Ordinator my visitor tour is slick and well-rehearsed but it never lacks passion. I love talking about our beloved Dr S, the 6 donkey assisted therapy centres and the work we do for children with additional needs, the International Department, and our fundraising efforts before finally arriving at the donkey yard to meet and greet our herd. The family later asked me for my sponsor form regarding my marathon efforts. After completing their details the family asked if £120 would be OK as a sponsorship amount? The biggest single sponsorship amount had just come from a family I didn’t even know an hour earlier. Humbled by their generosity and their belief in me, my offered hug just didn’t seem enough to thank them.
The second help came from the founder and organiser of a local running team: STORM Plymouth. Scott Allan dedicates every moment of his free time, organising runs, giving advice and supporting runners all over Plymouth and he deservedly won BBC South West unsung sporting hero in 2015. Scott heard of my struggles and got in contact. Without hesitation he cleared his own plans for the following Sunday and we ran together: My way: My speed: My pace: My run. The result? The girl who couldn’t run a 400 metre track 3 years ago, just ran 17 miles with relative ease and finished with a smile on her face. I finally believed in myself and my ability to achieve this full marathon. As if that wasn’t enough, that night my fundraising appeal total reached the £1,000 mark.
Since those two remarkable happenings I have received an unprecedented stream of messages of support, donations and enthusiasm from family, friends, fellow runners, supporters and sometimes from total strangers. One consistent message #DOITFORDONKEYS and I will!
If you enjoyed my blog or have been inspired by my story or maybe it just made you smile, please go a little further by visiting my JustGiving fundraising page. Please give what you can to help me help this amazing charity provide the unique therapy services to children with additional needs as well as providing a home for life for thousands of unwanted donkeys.
The Donkey Sanctuary, Ivybridge