The London Marathon Ballot is almost out. The result packs, in the form of a Congratulations/Commiserations magazine, have been sent out, and the eager runner must simply wait in slightly nauseous suspense until one magazine or the other drops through the letterbox.
I’ve been reflecting a lot recently on why I even entered the ballot and what my hopes were. I entered in April, when I was based out in my company’s office in Mexico City, and living in a hotel. I didn’t know where in the world I’d be based in April 2016 (really!), not to mention whether I could persuade my company to fly me home with at least 48 hours to spare, in order to rest up before running 26.2 miles with half a million strangers.
I entered within minutes of registering for my first half marathon. At this point I was at an all time low, and hadn’t laced up my running shoes more than twice since the year began. So why enter? Why enter any race at all, let alone (to paraphrase Alexandra Heminsley of Running like a Girl) “the biggest street party in London, with some running thrown in”?
To be honest, taking up running again was my last-ditch attempt at happiness. I know that may sound dramatic, but it’s the only way I can describe it. I was deeply unhappy, in that dark place where I was simply blind to the prospect of a better future. The half marathon in October, followed by the full in 2016, was my way of making a plan for the future. I needed something to aim towards: a goal, accompanied by way to get there. If I was to run a half marathon, let alone a full one, I needed to get my arse in gear somehow.
And I have to say it worked. Things didn’t improve immediately, of course. In fact, I think it got worse before it got better. However, running became my constant in a life that was chaotic. Pounding the pavements or hitting the treadmill became my way of processing. And as I ran, my mood lifted slightly. The endorphins made me just slightly more focused, more hopeful. I was able to think clearly enough to find ways out of the shit situations I’d gotten into.
If I look back at the person who entered the half marathon, and signed up to London, I barely recognise her. I can only recognise how desperately she needed help. If I look at myself today, I can see how much I have transformed. If you ask me now about running London in 2016, I will still give you a look of panic mixed with oh-shit-did-i-really-agree-to-this. But I also know deep down that I am entirely capable of running a marathon. I can say with certainty that I can get over the finish line- be that in 4 hours or 6. I have a kind of confidence in myself and my body that was entirely lacking six months ago. The past year has shown me how much hard work, tireless effort and sheer determination can pay off. I’ve hit 3 PBs this year, but the real miracle is that I even found the energy to run again.
The point of all this is: whether I get a place in the ballot or not is, in fact, irrelevant. Making those commitments, those plans, all those months ago, steered me off a dangerous path and pointed me in the right direction. Running gave me the tools I needed to fix myself. Marathon or not, for that I am eternally grateful.
Congrats if you made it to the end of this post, and thank you for reading my ramble 🙂
Lots of love