12/12 Portsmouth Coastal Marathon
The day before I’d spent at the BBC studios being interviewed for national radio, I’d talked about suicide, running, and the year I’d had. It felt ever so fitting. Once upon a time I was scared to talk about how low I’d been for fear that someone might judge me or look at me differently. I’m a together person with a good job and a ‘normal’ life. I’m a success. Yet I’m broken. Being bold enough to say that to 2.5 million people is somewhere I never thought I’d be. I said it not because I wanted to rave about where I am in my life and what an achievement 12 in 12 is, but because I want people to know it’s ok to be broken. My brain wont ever be perfecr, it will always take me down paths I don’t want to go. I have days now where I sit and cry for hours whilst I try to catch my breath and make sense of my head, and that’s ok. I have days where I go to work and be a boss, and get all my stuff done, focus on the future, make plans, go for a run and feel sensational, and that’s ok. Everything that falls in between those things is ok. Mental health is not black and white. I am not black and white. This year has not been black and white. All of that is ok.
So yes I rocked up to a start line of my final 12 in 12 marathon, in a place where I hadn’t been in a little while. A very calm, very level place, with no expectation and no agenda. I just wanted to run for the love of running and for the love of being strong, even in my weakest moments.
The start line was lush, the sunrise beautiful and it was full of so many lovely people, a whole host came down for Tommy’s birthday. Although I only got to see them briefly it was so nice to say hey to a whole host of mini inspirations who have got me to this point in different ways; old friends and new friends and blummin inspiring friends. Team runr were there selling awesome kit, who have also featured heavily in not only my 12in12, but also the Virtual events I’ve put on. Last but not least it was so lovely to have Kev with me to see out the final run, which seemed fitting as we’d worked so hard together over the past 12 months to get me to every start line feeling strong AF. It was a really nice vibe. We had friends and family stationed along the route and all in all it felt like the perfect day for it.
Setting off was cold, but calm and still. The views around the coast are beautiful, and I love the multi terrain, not quite as off road as trail, but not quite as on road as well, road!
The route is an out and back along the Portsmouth waterside. You take in road, promenade, paths, stoney beaches and muddy tracks. Yeah sure you have to contend with the dulcet tones of the A27 for a bit, but no race is perfect. The aid stations were a delightful treat, with mulled win and minced pies along with the usual selection of race essentials (mainly water and sweets)!
The miles to half way slipped by effortlessly, Kev and I chatted and ran comfortably, well comfy for me quite slow for him. We bumped in to Kev’s friends Paul and Anne, and stopped to chat for a while. They had heard me on the radio and were just ever so lovely about how it went. Off running again, bumping in to Em and James next. My cheer squad who have tirelessly followed me round the country/continent for the past 12 months; getting up at the crack of dawn and standing in all conditions to see me for a split second. They have been there picking me up when I’d fallen apart and celebrating me hard when I did my impossible. I cannot thank them enough for their endless support and belief in me!
The struggle came on queue at about 18 miles, it stuck with me till the end. I’d had a run streak in to the marathon trying to reach my 250km target for the run up to Christmas. I’d run 12 marathons already, had over 1300 training miles in my legs, the race was over a mile longer than it should’ve been, and I was tired, I am tired, but I was mostly happy.
I thought a lot about a lot of things in that last 10k, how my life has changed immensely since I took up running, how I now have so many memories filled with new faces that I would never even know because of running, and how I now have this thing, this thing that even in its worst moments is enriching my life no end. Running is not something I do, it’s who I am, and as I crossed the finish line I didn’t cry, or feel relief, I just smiled and put my head in my hands (thanks for the tip Brine), because I felt like I was exactly where I needed to be.
This year I ran 12 (13) marathons in 12 months and all I got was this totally incredible life.
Be bold, put yourself right outside of your comfort zone, be honest when it hurts and falls apart, and shout loud about yourself when it all comes together. Be proud of every step you take in the direction of where you want to go, even if that’s a step back, believe hard, achieve hard, and go for it!
2017 you’ve been insane
2018 it’s time for something new…
#Clareruns12in12 charity #12
This Christmas you can give someone all of this for under £27. That’s less than a £1 a mile for my run on Sunday! Think of what a difference you could make to someone who currently has so little, and be part of the solution this year to end homelessness.
Give someone who’s homeless all this for £26.08
Please head over to crisis to donate!
Because it’s Christmas and this is also the time of giving, if you feel inclined to donate on behalf of the 1700 runners taking part in the Run Up to Christmas as well! Please click here