Bang!! Running in to the wall.

Phew – what a roller coast the last week or so has been.

The response to my last blog post was simply stunning.  A few of us has a deeply, deeply emotional weekend as we read peoples responses to the post on Facebook, email, and in the Just Giving pages.  The pledges made to Mind so far have knocked me sideways.  As I write this, nearly £700 has been raised online alone.

All sorts of people have sponsored: friends of mine, friends of Paul, friends of Sarah and even some people none of us have ever met! The impact of such generosity was firstly extremely satisfying, then slightly overwhelming, and then confusing.  Then my head hit the wall.

Just a snapshot of some inspiring messages

Just a snapshot of some inspiring messages

It was during a highly motivated 14 miles that I started to get my head around the sponsorship thing.

Some people are sponsoring me because they know me and want to support me.  Others are supporting the charity and the cause.  But most people are sponsoring because of the sense of affection and loss they still feel about Paul and their admiration for Sarah.  Anyhow, if anyone who has sponsored me is reading this: Thank You.

In fact, in many cases I’ve stopped thinking of the generous donations as sponsorship for my run.  Instead I think people are using the opportunity to sponsor as a tangible way of showing their ongoing grief and commitment to support.  The results are tremendous and more overwhelming than the amount of money raised so far.

Lot’s of people still feel the same way that I do.  I know they do because I read what all of them have written on the Just Giving pages.  I’ve had contact with a number of people following their donations and something that will stay with me forever came from one of Pauls friends who I only met a couple of times.  He said “what happened with Paul changed us all forever”.  Yes.  Yes it did.

That makes me think about my grief and the ongoing grief demonstrated by so many generous people who reacted my last blog.  We changed.  We’re all trying to come to terms with the loss we feel, but maybe we should also be coming to terms that we’ve changed.  That gap that Paul left will never be filled – it’s just a Paul sized gap that we’ll all carry around with us for ever more.  Because we’ve changed.

On the training front things haven’t gone too well.  After the successful 14 miles I’ve had a horrible cold and taken a week off training.  I was back on the bike last night and will be running 10k tomorrow before resting up for a half marathon at Stanwick Lakes on Sunday…. watch this space to see how I get on.

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Chasing Rainbows

To commit to marathon training you either need to be addicted to running or have a bloody good reason to ramp up the training. I’m not addicted to running. Here is my bloody good reason.

Three years ago, pretty much to the day, I lost my best friend Paul.

Over a number of years Paul and I had become close friends as our lives came together and intersected through our work, our hobbies and our families.  We met working in India but were originally no more than friendly acquaintances.  I can’t remember how it happened, but when we were back in the UK we began playing golf together and pretty soon spent every other weekend at a golf course.

By this time our work life was following a similar path.  Both of us were selected for a management development programme as our careers moved steadily forward and we graduated together with our Mum’s looking proudly on. Throughout this time, we were both cultivating great relationships for ourselves so Paul and his fiancee Sarah came to our wedding about a year before we went to theirs.  Within the next 12 months we’d both had fantastic baby daughters.  I can remember playing golf with Paul at Oadby in Leicester where he told me they were expecting a baby.  We were on the 7th tee. We celebrated with a couple of pints when we finished and he told me of his impending redundancy.

It was at the same golf course that I planned to break the news about our second pregnancy a few years later.  I’d intended to tell him on the 7th tee and he was to be the first person I had confided in outside of my family.  Anyway, he pipped me to it when, on the 2nd tee, he told me that they were expecting their second baby too.  We were delighted for each other and stood hugging in celebration.

That was just one of many fantastic memories I have of sharing time with Paul.  His stag weekend in Newquay was easily the best one I have been on and we often shared stories of mine in Edinburgh.

After leaving our company Paul worked hard to make a go of things in the Financial Services sector and seemed to be getting along well.  But there must have been something else going on in Paul’s mind.   Three weeks after our last round of golf, two weeks after coming round to our house with his family to enjoy dinner together, three days after we popped round to ease the quarantine induced cabin fever of their daughter having chicken pox, Paul committed suicide.

None of us saw it coming.  And to be honest, I have never understood or really got my head around what happened.  It felt like our worlds had been turned upside down and I cannot begin to imagine how Sarah, who was still pregnant at the time, coped with losing him and looking after their daughter.

In my world, I had hoped that Paul and Sarah would be our “friends for life”.  The ones with whom our lives just easily intertwined.  And so, selfishly, Pauls death hit me hard.  And it scared me.  Because Paul was like me, he was my buddy and I can’t understand what happened that made him need to end his life.  Running this marathon for Mind is both charitable and therapeutic in equal part.  I still don’t understand and I still can’t change what happened but maybe I can raise a bit of money to prevent it happening to another family.

Throughout everything, Sarah has been a rock and is truly my most inspiring friend. I’m sure she has had dark days and I hope that we have been the friends she has needed us to be.  Our youngest daughters were born just a day apart less than three months after Paul died, and if ever a person should be celebrated as an amazing mother it is Sarah…. but she’d hate that!

To help their daughter come to terms with things, Sarah asked her to remember her Daddy every time she saw a rainbow. I hold on that as a reminder Sarah’s strength and of the glorious responsibilities and privileges we enjoy as parents.JustGiving - Sponsor me now!

Every rainbow I see makes me smile. It makes me cry. And it makes me remember Paul.

I’m running the Brighton Marathon for Mind because there are enough rainbows in the sky.

Training Plan for the Brighton Marathon

Right, here is the aim.

6 April, Brighton Marathon, sub 3:30.

Given that I’ve run only one marathon in the past (London 5 years ago in 4:51) that is an ambitious target. So why do I think I can do it?

Well, I don’t know if I can.  Just like I didn’t know if I could finish the London.  Or if I could cycle to Skegness that first time.  Or if I could cycle to Paris.  But I did each of them, so that’s why I believe I can do this.

And the target is 3:30 because I see 4 hours as the upper limit of a serious time.

I’ll be blogging about the trials and tribulations of my training here throughout the winter.  Using a BUPA (Intermediate) training plan as a base, I’ve drawn up my plan this week.  Here goes:

Marathon Training Plan

Sorry you’re not in

That was the message on the front of the magazine that landed on my doorstep this week.

It was from the organisers of the Virgin Money London Marathon and it is quite a nice way to be told bad news.  Obviously, I didn’t even open the cellophane before slinging it in the bin in dismay.

To be honest, when I found out that my brother-in-law had been unsuccessful in the ballot too, I wasn’t overly disappointed to miss out.  (Well, at least when I got over the indignity of being rejected!).  The biggest appeal to me was for the event to be a big family day out to once again celebrate the fantastic event.  I’d have been happy if Matt had got in because I could have taken the kids down and had a terrific time supporting him to complete such a great challenge.

So we have quickly returned to the drawing board and Paris is an attractive option.  Me and Mrs G love the city and the prospect of doing the marathon would be great …. but would start to get pricey with hotels and travel on top of the 100 Euro entry fee.  It remains a good second option but this evenings thinking is that the Brighton Marathon becomes Plan A.  It looks like there may still be plenty of charity places left but Heart UK, which is my usual charity, is not represented.  But I think a different charity has found me this time.

A few years ago, my best mate committed suicide.  It was completely out of the blue and he left a beautiful young family behind.  I don’t feel like I have ever dealt with what happened, I’ll never understand it, and I don’t think anybody else will.  I have learnt that people carrying a mental illness aren’t always as easily identifiable as people with other illnesses.  You can never truly tell what is going on in someones head.   But there is work that can be done to raise awareness and provide support for people struggling to cope with any worries that are getting difficult to deal with.  The moment I saw that Mind was on the charity list, I felt the rush of emotion that I’d need to train and complete another marathon.

I’ll give it another day or two to sink in and make sure that any decision I make is the right one.  But as it stands, maybe missing London will be a good thing and, perhaps I’ll be doing the Brighton Marathon for my friend and his family.