Around this time each year, I post a review of my (running) year and consider any achievements I might have made and setbacks I might have encountered. I also begin to make tentative plans for the year ahead and set out my goals. I’ll post that review soon, but today my focus is all on the year ahead and the challenge I’ll be taking on.
My challenge next year is all about making a difference. In my first ever blog post, Why I Run, I wrote of my motivation to begin running in order to raise funds after the death of my gran to cancer. I wanted then to try and make a difference and channelled my energies into discovering what is now a huge part of my life – running. Just a few short years after losing my gran, to whom I was very close, cancer again entered our lives and my papa, too, was taken from us. Although consoled that he would once more be with my gran, I felt sad to know that all the memories I had with my grandparents were now just that – memories, albeit happy ones – and that I would never again have the experience of spending time with them, sharing stories and being fed more to eat than I could possibly manage!
Sadly, my experience of such losses is becoming an all too familiar one for many of us. Earlier this year my father-in-law was diagnosed with cancer. Unfortunately, by the time we knew it was cancer, it was too late for him to be treated. I felt helpless as I watched my husband and his family cope with the loss of a man who was a big part of the family, a larger-than-life character and a well-known face around Perth. I was helpless to make a difference on this occasion, but not helpless to make a difference for others in the future. Increasingly, we are all being touched in some way by cancer. Finding a cure would be wonderful, but until that happens it’s time to do something positive to help.
You see, every day more and more people are facing the toughest fight of their lives. They need someone in their corner. They need to know that there is support out there to help them through their battle and beyond. They need to know that they are not alone. For many, that support is provided by MacMillan. MacMillan helped my gran to get the care she needed and they were there to support my husband’s family this year too, so in 2014 I will be using my running to help raise vital funds for them.
2014 will see me take on my biggest running challenge to date as I have signed up to run 3 marathons – Paris in April, Edinburgh in May and Loch Ness in September. I will also be running the Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon in June and Scottish Half Marathon in September along with a variety of other shorter races along the way. While I have run marathons before, I have only ever once entered more than one in a year, and even then it was 2 spring marathons which I could effectively complete off the same winter training cycle. I remember the 2nd race, which took place just 5 weeks after the first, being a much greater challenge as my mind and body had not yet forgotten the pain 26.2 miles can inflict, yet next year I am going to not only repeat this endeavour, but add an additional autumn marathon, because I believe in taking on a big personal challenge in order to make a difference. I have never before taken on the challenge of running marathons in both the spring and the autumn, which will basically mean that for the majority of next year, I will be marathon training. In fact, I’ve only ever run spring marathons and then enjoyed the chance to run shorter races for the remainder of the year. Not so in 2014. 2014, for me, will be The Year of the Marathon and Steve will also be taking on his biggest running challenge ever.
Crossing the finish line of a marathon is a unique experience involving a veritable flood of emotions – pride, pain and relief being key among them. It’s not unknown for tears to fall through the combination of sheer joy at finishing, immense pride in the achievement and utter pain at having pounded out so many miles. Most people cross that line knowing that their journey is over, but my journey in 2014 will not be over until I cross that 3rd and final finish line in September. I will have to be training hard and running high weekly mileage for nine months next year. In the space of that nine months whole new people will be created and enter the world! By the time I’m finished, I may also feel like a different (if not exactly new!) person, for when I cross that line in Inverness in September, not only will I have completed that marathon, but I will have finished a marathon of a challenge. I expect to learn a great deal about myself and what I am made of. I also, of course, hope to raise as much money as I can for MacMillan.
Sadly one in three of us will get cancer and we probably all know at least one person who has battled cancer. Some win that battle, others are beaten, but nobody should have to fight that battle alone. Next year, I will fight my own battle against the mighty 26.2 to help make sure that happens, and I have no intention of being beaten as countless people are relying on MacMillan and, in turn, on me.
If you would like to support me in my challenge, I have created a JustGiving page through which donations can be made securely and will be sent directly to MacMillan Cancer Support. Every single penny donated, every single encouraging message and every single cheer from the sidelines will be hugely appreciated. Thank you.