But something didn’t feel right as soon as Tonia and Dad took them all out around the park and I stood there at the Boathouse. It immediately felt like I was missing out. However, I had said to myself after giving up on running the last time, I’m out. I never keep this going. What’s the point? I always feel so low after giving up, so I’m not going to start again.
Standing there at the Boathouse I saw something I wanted to be involved in and it swallowed up the negative thought I had been consumed with. I didn’t know why at the time, though I didn’t question it. I said nothing about it to anyone, grabbed some old kit on a quiet day at home and went out to see what I could do on my own, without anyone seeing that I was going out running. I was going to wait until the next Sunday but I didn’t want to embarrass myself by collapsing after a few steps in the park. So I took off gently on a route in the local area I had done many times in the past. Luckily there are a lot of connecting side roads near my house meaning there are lots of options to turn and give increasingly long running distances, but the ability to go into a side road every so often to shorten it. I really didn’t know which of my turnings I would take and I was incredibly relieved to find that it wasn’t the first choice, which would have made it not quite a lap of the lake. I passed my second turn feeling fine to continue and then felt a bit of fatigue as I approached the third so I was quite content to take it. Feeling that this would be a fair distance for a comeback run I then remembered that it had a bit of a hill, just as I started to hit it. I then remembered how I had felt just about every time I had run this hill in the past, having that ‘That will be enough running now’ feeling. Only this time I was struck by a different feeling, a different voice in my head. Most of the time I used to walk at this point, recover and run later on, which I felt like doing now. I told myself on this occasion, ‘just physical pain’. I kept running. I felt great, I mean I felt awful and I could have stopped and stopped again some more. But I got home, no stopping. I felt great, unlike any run I had done before. I had been thinking about my brother and the physical pain I experienced was inconsequential when compared to the loss of my brother, so the pain shrank and became nothing. I took this private triumph and kept it in my head, and then returned to the park on the following Sunday.
Looking at the picture four years later, I feel very grateful. I have been to nearly every week of Boathouse Runners since, I have taken a Run Leader qualification, I have met so many people living near me and near the park to run and make friends with. I have set and achieved running goals, ran a marathon, lost weight and I can keep up with my children without passing out. I am keeping their father healthy. But I couldn’t do it on my own, precisely as I spoke of earlier, when I was running by myself I would give up. Eventually. Now though, I have to be out running on a Sunday. I don’t want to miss out. I want to run and talk with my friends every week, I want to know how everyone is. If I don’t keep running, I won’t be out running with my friends on Sunday. I then made a really good friend in Chan who got me to do the marathon goal earlier than I thought I would, and we made Saturday morning at parkrun and Thursday night at Clem Dench unmissable as well, alongside friends we felt we had known for years although it had only been weeks.
Though my running journey is personal, as all of our running journeys are, it is interdependent. I can present all of the evidence of my short lived running journeys to show that I thrive on running with others. I have not given up, for the first time I have continued running for over a year, now it is coming up to 4 years since that photo was taken and I am still running. For that I am grateful to each and every one of you who have joined us by the Boathouse on a Sunday morning, I run because you run. It has been a privilege to get to know you and be a part of your lives for all of these years.
I get so much out of this I find it hard to describe myself as a volunteer, but I am every Sunday. But I am not the only one, I can only get out because of the people I love who look after the children. I am very lucky that they give me their time so I can get out - they volunteer for me. This was never so clearly illustrated than the time that marathon training was added to the list of their voluntary duties for the week every week. That’s a lot of time to give up when you add a 3-4 hour Saturday morning run to the 3 hours given over to Boathouse Runners on a Sunday. Never forget the people who get you there, especially those who give up their time to make it possible, some of those people are with us, running, and some of them may be at home, making it possible.