The Greatest Love Of All

Posted on: 30 Mar 2014

In Search Of A Mantra … or … another dose of self indulgence

Early on in what has become known (to me at least) as “the Project” I borrowed a magazine from friend and ex-colleague Tim (hmmmmm – borrowed? – still have the magazine). This stressed the need for every serious runner to have a mantra, and indeed provided for me a simple handy mantra generator. Always open to the power of suggestion I duly generated one and took it with me on my next run. When things got tough, I resorted to my mantra, and at the end had completed my worst run ever. I can’t even remember what the mantra was, only that it it was total b%##%$£s, and I binned it.

People have asked if I play music when out running. Others ask if I mind running alone. Each to his own. The answer to both questions is “no!” If I want music I have an endless supply of all my favourite tracks instantly available in my head (today's was the amazing Dusty - “I Just Don't Know What To Do With Myself” – come mid April that will be me!). And when I'm not listening to head music, I think (and compose blog submissions).

Having decided that (at my age) I wanted to run #VLM2014 (and not leave it until I am even more decrepid ;-) ), it was clear that the only route to guarantee this was through a charity. I determined that, out of all the competing and compelling causes available, CLIC Sargent was one that I was entirely comfortable with. But this was a two way street. My assumption is this is probably the major fund-raising opportunity of its type for all these charities. Therefore they do not wish to squander their precious places on someone who will just take the start number and run – they needed to be assured that I was serious about raising the required sum and that I had a good idea how to go about it. I had to submit a proposal. And I started by quoting the well-known philosopher, Whitney Houston, “I believe that children are the future”. And I genuinely do .

And now I’ve started to refer to it as “this wonderful project”. It came along at a time when my life was going through so many changes, not least of all just months after my marital status changed to “separated” (most amicably I would add). It’s challenged me in ways that I never imagined. For instance, would I have seriously believed that, at fifty-six and two thirds, I would throw inhibitions to the wind and become a hard core street busker, or that our local community radio station, Air107.2, would ask me to be their studio guest on April 6th!

Yes – this wonderful project has been a challenge. At times I've been totally stressed out over it (mostly at the start – how could I possibly raise that money?). But I like the fact that I'm doing it; I like the positive affect it can have on the lives of young people; I am happy to have received so much support from many people; I absolutely loved duetting with younger daughter Anneliese singing “Thankyou For The Days”; I am quietly proud to be doing it; and also I am liking myself more for doing it (hopefully in a good way).

I was out, running for three hours, and Whitney just happened to be playing in my head at the time. And it came to me – my new mantra – “Learning to love yourself … is the greatest love of all” – thank you Whitney.


Postscript – but of course those aren't actually Whitney's words. I thought I'd find out who did write it. Yet another poignant reminder – this is also about supporting so many other people, supporting children and young people with cancer, and CLIC Sargent – Linda Creed (1948 - 1986).


Today was of course “Long Run Sunday”. According to Nick and Phoebe at runningwithus we are winding down, and today they asked for two hours easy running. Hmmm – don't know if it was the extra warmth or that I overindulged on Diet Coke last night, but if ever there was a run to erode the confidence I've been building up the last two months, this was the one – it just didn't feel right – but I'm not too down about – I survived and recovered well, and maybe this was one I had to get out of my system. And maybe I need to be more prepared to shed a layer if the weather is warm on the day.

And then two more “Well Up” moments. Firstly receiving a donation from my oldest (in terms of length of service – over 50 years!) friend, Jonathan, which took the fund-raising beyond the £4000 mark. We used to stand together on the terraces at the Valley (home to the mighty Charlton Athletic) back in the 1960's. The picture is us with legendary goalkeeper Sam Bartram. Apparently on seeing this picture Jonathan's son Mark commented “Crikey – Keith's brother's tall isn't he?”

And secondly yesterday I took time out to watch the documentary “Dying to Live” about Kristin Hallenga, founder of the Coppafeel charity (damn - I'm off again). So now I know where all the giant boobs came from that accompanied me around the Bath Half :-) and rest assured - there will be plenty more boobs running London. One amazing lady.

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