If I had to describe Bristol Half Marathon in three words they would be; wet, miserable and lonely. It’s no secret that I have been having a particularly shit time of late. An increasing amount of shitty and stressful situations have accumulated to the point where I have felt unable to bear the emotional load. A recent run in with a GP when my youngest son was ill was the straw that broke the camel’s back. I was not in the mood for a run let alone a half marathon.
Recently I have felt like a shit wife and a shit mum. The weight of the mounting stress and the pressure has been crushing, suffocating almost but we can always bear more than we think.
During childbirth women experience increasingly painful and frequent contractions as the birth of the baby approaches. The pain becomes greater and greater and just as we think we cannot bear any more it subsides and we get a brief respite. We know though, throughout labour that this pain is temporary and will result in the overwhelming joy of a new child. Contractions are a working pain. They have a purpose and an end point.
Life pain is similar. Stress, hard times, emotional labour is all a working pain. There is an end point and we have to hang in there long enough to be able to enjoy the fruits of the our “labour”. I know that ultimately everything I am going through at the moment will come to and end. Hard times do not last forever. Even if things do not go my way or we do not acheive the desired outcomes in our endeavours we cannot help but be better for the struggles, stronger, wiser people for the effort. Hard work is not wasted even if we fail. Failures are more valuable lessons than successes even if they taste bitter.
At 9.50 on Sunday morning in a soaking wet and cold Bristol city centre I briefly considered not running the half marathon at all and waiting for my friend’s in a coffee shop with a hot drink. 13.1 miles is a long way. It’s even further on your own and excruciating when you don’t even want to do it. At 9.55 I took my miserable self to the start line with thousands of other people and when the gun went off I ran.
I spent the first 4 miles feeling miserable. I spent the next 3 thinking how lucky I was to be able to run at all when I passed a guy in a wheelchair. The last 6.1 miles I just wanted to get to the end. I didn’t enjoy the run but I did feel physically strong. The race was a three hour battle not with my feet, or tiredness or my legs but with my mind. I told myself I was rubbish, slow, tired, worthless, you name it I told myself that was what I was. I completed the race.
Bristol Half Marathon was like labour. It was slow and it was painful but it was also useful. I’m stronger than I think I am in my weakest moments. I can always bear more than I think and mentally I’m tough. I have resilience.
Running and life, it’s not about being the fastest or finishing first or pretending it doesn’t hurt and its not hard. It’s about keeping going. It’s about accepting that it’s hard but that it’s worth it. Most of all it’s about having faith in yourself to get to the end.