On Sunday 23rd March, I participated in the Warwick Half Marathon for British Heart Foundation. Having agreed 6 weeks earlier, on the premise that I’d be walking for 5 minutes, running for 1 minute (and repeat), I began training.
Fitting training into an already full timetable was hard enough, and as the weeks progressed I secretly feared the big day. Whenever asked my response was, “I’m walking it”, as if the word ‘walk’ would lessen the pressure.
Surely it did. I trained enough that my legs became stronger and when the day approached I began walking.
Very quickly as a brisk walker you realise that in a marathon most people run, and I was quickly right at the back by the ambulance. I tried running, and got out of breath before I knew it. Still, I kept walking. Feeling dead before I even reached the 1 mile mark, I remember hearing an encouraging voice say, “you can do it” from the sidelines – to which I responded “I don’t want to do it!” and I really didn’t. (I even thought about jumping into the ambulance behind me).
It can be a defeating position to know you’re last, and as I saw my family members up ahead, aware that I was not fit enough to catch up, I told myself I’ll only be five minutes behind them!
Soon they were out of sight, and I was alone on a long winding country road in the middle of Warwick. (If it wasn’t for the ambulance I’d have been scared!)
Soon enough, around the third mile, walking still on an almost empty road, I began to see a few stragglers before me. One of them would become a dear friend, who would keep me going till the end.
This friend, like me, found the hilly Warwick roads a struggle. As her wheelchair fought against the wind, she pushed back and made it. By the time we got to the 10th mile, everything had become easier – but getting there wouldn’t have been possible if she wasn’t there to join me on the journey.
The biggest battle of the day was on those quiet roads, the ones without spectators or support. The ones we travel alone, even when we’re together.
It’s really easy to decide to give up, and I probably could have on many occasions that day had I known where I was. It was the fear of getting lost that kept on the path, and I’m glad it did.
For me that day symbolised my life. Most of the time we don’t know where we’re going – life is a long road and we’re all taking different routes. No two routes are ever going to be the same as we don’t know which way the wind will blow to guide us.
In my ears I heard the Lord’s name, with my eyes I saw the beauty of the world, and despite the hard road and struggle I kept going. Then when I found a friend in need, we stuck it out together, because without the support of another human it’s easy to give up.
If I can try and live every day of my life like that – minus that much actual walking – I think it’ll be a good one.
It’s not about unloading your burdens and pains for another person to carry that makes it easier, but just knowing that the other person is there to give you a nudge, or a little word of advice to keep you going.
Eventually we’ll all get there.