Monday, 8 April 2013

148 Minutes – What can you do in that time?

How much can a person learn about themselves in a couple of hours?  In my case a hell of a lot.  It is not a lot of time in the grand scheme of things but when you have that much time to yourself and no interruptions you have a lot of time to delve into your own thoughts, inner demons, preconceived ideas and plans for the future.
Yesterday saw me run my first half marathon, which for me was a massive achievement, but it allowed me to spend some time looking at what I am doing, where I am going and how I am viewing things in general but also having a good look at how I am approaching a lot of different things in my life.  It also taught me a few lessons yesterday which I may have mentioned flippantly in the past but they really fell into place for me during my time on the road.  Hell, trying to run 21.1kms meant I needed something to take my mind of the pain so why not ponder on life and what I have learnt recently.
This half marathon was not something that was in my grand plan, if I actually have one as I was working towards my first being in July.  A training buddy of mine, Melissa Wilkins aka Mighty Mouse, was originally doing this run but fell ill last week and asked if there was anyone else that wanted to take her entry.  I mulled it over for a day and discussed it with Julie and then decided to take a shot at it.  I had never run more than 14kms before so there was a fair bit of apprehension surrounding this due to the unknown, but as I kept telling myself and others (not sure I was that convincing though) I was not going to die wondering anyway.  It was going to be a good training run and as many had said, just do what I could and then walk the rest, no big deal.  So without any preconceived ideas about being able to run the full amount or set a world record time for a fat git, I went and had a crack.
Only ever having done 2 fun runs before, this was all new to me.  Surely a half marathon is the domain of fit people and serious runners. WRONG!!!!  It was fantastic to see people of all shapes and sizes in different outfits (some in fancy dress) all getting ready to set their own PB’s or achieve a goal.  For me it was about just taking part.  I made sure I went to the very back of the field so that I would not get sucked into following people that were a lot faster than me (like I did following Janine Ward at the Zoo Run) and killing myself very early.  I wanted to see how far I could get and hoped to be able to average around 6 minutes and 40 seconds per km.  This I thought would be comfortable and get be to the end within 2 hours and 30 minutes if I ran the entire race.  Of went the buzzer and the crowd moved forward, the butterflies kicked in but there was no turning back now.  I settled into a rhythm and felt good.  My brother in law told me a few weeks ago that the best way to run is to find a lady in front running at my pace with a great butt and just follow them, it takes your mind off things.  I did this quite easily.  Sadly at the 5km mark she slowed down and fell behind me.  She obviously wasn’t too happy with my butt because she dropped right off.  I also had a few people that would surge past me and then stop to walk on a number of occasions.  This annoys me, why don’t they just run at an even pace.  This is where I started my thinking and pondering and became very deep and meaningful with myself.

Not the lady, but this would have me running behind her.
As I had said prior to the run, I was only there to run my own race.  I was not worried about time, looking good or what anyone else was doing.  This is exactly what these people were doing.  Maybe it was a training run for them as well. Maybe they were only allowed to run for certain distances on doctor’s orders or were simply out there to prove something to themselves and take part.  Then it dawned on me, why is life any different to a half marathon?  In fact, the 12WBT is the same as a half marathon.  Everyone that takes part is there to achieve the same result. In a half marathon it is to finish, no matter how you do it.  Some will take off and get there in 69 minutes like the winner, others will trudge along and run the entire thing at a snail’s pace whilst some will just do what they can and walk part of the way or a lot of the way.  None of them are comparing themselves to the other as they all have their own path to travel.  This is exactly what I was trying to do. I wanted to run as much of this race as possible and if I got there without stopping that would be amazing but if I didn’t so what.  The 12WBT is exactly the same.  All of us want to lose weight, but our journeys are all different and how we get there or how fast we get there should never be compared.  We see all too often people worrying about not being able to lose weight as quickly as other people, or taking too long to get to their goal.  Don’t worry about what others are doing, you don’t know their situation, you can’t control what they are doing and how does it impact you.  I didn’t care how fast people were going, who was in front of me (unless she had a nice bum of course) or who was behind me, they weren’t going to get me to the end, only me and my legs could do that with a heap of stubbornness and grit.
I was moving along nicely through 7kms, and actually felt a lot better than expected. As I went past 14kms I let out a little cheer as this was a new PB for me.  I was quietly hoping I would be able to get to 16kms (for no real reason) and when I did I was starting to feel heavy in my legs but counting down as I had been all day I knew it was only 5.1kms to go.  Then I hit 18kms and the fire in my belly started to burn.  There was no way I was going to stop now only 3kms from the end.  So close yet still so far.  It was at this point where it hit home.  I had to do this, not only for me, but for all those people that were cheering me on.  My friends and family had shown me amazing support in the couple of days since deciding to do this.  My training buddies as well were full of such nice words of support on Saturday morning as well as the 12WBT friends on Facebook and twitter, but the one thing that spurred me on more than anything was a text message I received yesterday morning from a good friend of mine.  This lady is another person that rides to raise money and awareness for cancer research.  Why?  Because we can and we want to do our bit.  Her words to me in this message were simple but true and really hit home.  She said to me “Good luck mate. Use the pain to keep you pushing!!!  Those we fight for don’t give up easily and neither will we ;).”  This is so true.  All those people suffering with cancer and battling their own issues would love to be able to be out here with my worries, but instead the fight for their lives every day.  There was no way I was going to stop now and miss out on achieving this so close to the end.

The last 3kms were the longest, hardest and most torturing I have ever run.  I saw 4 people passed out on the side of the road seeking assistance from members of the public or medics.  This could have been me.  The last 1.5kms was a long straight stretch of road, so I could see the finish but it wasn’t getting any closer.  I also had to watch these smart arses that had finished earlier running back the other way.  WHY???  Because they can. Makes me sick.  As I got to the end people were cheering everyone on, clapping and hollering and I could see my wife and 4 kids with a big banner which said “GO DAD” as well as my mum all standing there to welcome me over the line.  It was an amazing sight, I had managed to run the entire FREAKING thing and couldn’t believe it.  I also couldn’t stand anymore so just dropped down and lay on the grass.  12 months ago I would not have contemplated doing this let alone done it on a few weeks training.  The 12WBT has changed my life, I have a new outlook on life, I am apparently inspiring people but I am saving my own life and enriching that of my children by teaching them the benefits of being fit and healthy.  Yesterday proved that to me and I just want to say.



  1. WOW! Even a day later, I still can't believe you did it! So very, very proud of you & I believe you can do ANYTHING you put your mind to.
    Disappointed there aren't any pictures of bubblebutts in your post though!

  2. Like Jules has said, I am so very proud of you Greg. And to know that my text message meant so much to you means a lot.
    On this day, I was going through my own personal hell on the bike. But knowing that you were also out there facing your battles, I knew I was not going to quit. The first thing I did when I reached mobile reception was check Facebook at look for your update. PROUD MATE - JUST PROUD!!!!!

    Reading this last paragraph bought tears to my eyes. We don't quit ... because we keep going for those who can't!!!

    Love ya work big fella!!!

  3. Leitchy you are freaking amazing. Loved reading this. This was my old patch so I know exactly where you were running, I used to live just up from the start area, so I did many many walks along that stretch (long before my running days!!). I must admit I did think of you often that morning, just knowing you would be doing it, achieving what you set out to do, because that's the kind of guy you are, strong, determined and focussed. Absolutely brilliant job.

    So would love to read your next post, I've been interested to know how you've pulled up after the run, and what you need to do to your body to recover after a mammoth morning like that. And perhaps a bit more about how you sustained yourself during the run - water, energy gels, etc. I'm really interested to hear about all of this. So there's a topic for you!!!