Last night I went out for a run with Philippa and Neil. It is perhaps testament to the discomfort that he is experiencing that I was able to keep up with him.
The London Marathon is an incredible event – the coverage on the television simply doesn’t do it justice. So many runners, so many spectators, so many crazy fancy dress outfits.
As Neil’s dedicated cheering squad and marathon groupies, Philippa and I were lucky enough to spot him at three points along the route.
At 9 miles he cheerfully jogged past us, barely breaking a sweat. At 15 miles he plodded past and looked like he was feeling every step. And at 20 miles he gave us a big thumbs down sign as he painfully struggled on …
As we battled though the crowds on the underground and endured a rather uncomfortable journey to the Westminster meeting points at the finish line, we were nervous. Nervous of whether we would find Neil at all. Nervous of what state he would be in physically. And nervous as to how he would feel emotionally as things had obviously not gone as he had planned.
We found him under a tree, munching an apple, with his medal proudly hung around his neck. His complexion was a rather peculiar colour and his stance awkward and obviously uncomfortable, but other than that he was ok and clearly chuffed to bits. And rightly so.
The majority of people who run the marathon do so for charity. The big well known charities were well represented by runners and there were many smaller charities most of which I wasn’t aware of. In all they raise around 50 million pounds for numerous good causes – including the MS Society.
I have to say that I was surprised at the number of runners I saw sporting the distinctive orange vest of the MS Society. Philippa and I gave them an extra loud cheer, as though they were part of our ‘team’. After all why had they decided to run for MS – they must have a connection? A friend or relative who is affected? Or maybe themselves? I felt like I wanted to ask them … but obviously the timing was a bit lousy.
It was all rather odd. You see I like to think of myself as being someone who tries to help others, both on a day to day level and in the charitable sense. In the last couple of years I have become increasingly involved in a small Manchester charity called the Birdhouse Fund and was, infact, running the 10k for them when the whole weird leg situation began.
I consider myself as being pretty independent. I stand on my own two feet (apart from when falling over 😉 and don’t like to rely on others. If something needs doing then I go and do it. If something needs getting then I go and get it. I don’t know why I am like this, I just am.
I am used to being on the giving end of charity. And the giving side of life.
And so the thought that I might now be on the receiving end of charity; that people, like Neil, were running for people, like me, was a rather odd concept for me to get my head round. Especially as to look at me no one would know that there was anything wrong – I look fairly healthy, I don’t have any problems with my mobility and I still do everything I did before, albeit with a few minor tweeks here and there. Maybe I need to get better at accepting help instead of always trying to give it. Maybe in the future I’ll need it. And it will simply be another step along this marathon journey that is MS. Because I’m barely past the start line.
And so thank you to everyone who sponsored Neil – especially those of you who did so after reading my ramblings on here!
On Monday Neil sent out a message to all those who sponsored him and so it seems only right that he get to say it on here too:
‘Yesterday I ran, stumbled and hobbled around the 26.2 miles of the
London marathon in 4:39:20. It is an amazing event, for the majority
of the course the crowd are packed in shouting and cheering your name.
There are parts I don’t think I’ll ever forget, from the noise around
Greenwich, to the fancy dress outfits (although being overtaken by a
carrot was a low). The one that sticks out most is very slowly and
painfully jogging past the MS Society cheering point at Canary Wharf
with what seemed like a hundred people screaming my name. When I
speeded up, the place went crazy. I even managed to see my dedicated
cheering squad (Philippa and Nicoletta, they made banners and
everything) three times around the course, which put a spring in step,
although this was partly to get away from the huge racket they were
Thanks to you, your partners and families, along with Pilla baking
cakes and my work donating £500, you’ve all helped to raise £2460.03
so far for the MS Society. That is an incredible amount. I’m proud of
it and it’s all thanks to you – thank you very very much.
My run itself was a bit of a shocker: I managed to pick up a bit of a
cold/some devastating man-flu last week and on the day it just hurt. I
felt ok through to about 12 miles, but the slight incline over tower
bridge (amazing) left me out of breath and it was downhill from there.
I got through to about 14.5 before slowing and as soon as I did I got
some horrible cramp up my legs. That stayed with me for the last 12
miles. Ouch. I’ve never felt anything like it! I’ve done other
marathons in quicker times but I’ve never had to work to hard or hurt
so much to get my medal.
Once again thank you for your donation, it really means a lot to me.
A big thank you to Neil too on behalf of all those who are in a similar situation to me. You are great. And I’m sure the bingo dabber enjoyed it’s little jaunt to the capital.
Now only one question remains …. when do I get that holiday to the Maldives we talked about ….. ??