This is my now traditional title for my final blog before a London Marathon. Across the years, I have had this as a blog title three times now. And it’ll be a pretty traditional content too.
Who’s it for?
Firstly, it is for my family. Of course it is, it has to be. It always is, and always will be. Anna is my most important training partner, yet one who has never run a yard alongside me. How can that be? She sees when I am down, and can talk with the common sense of one who doesn’t run. She listens to me going on and interminably on about what time I will be going for a run. And, of course, she spends hours alone when I am out alone too. Me ploughing a lonely furrow, her at home.
It is for my daughters. I want them to see that they can do anything they turn their minds to – if their old man can do it, all 49 years of creaking large frame of him, they can too. I see that they have inherited the competitive gene – I have seen it at swimming galas, at netball. I know that they have the ability to get their own chimp out of their heads – I want them to see the drive I have and feel that desire too.
It’s for my mum. She’ll always be proud of me, she will always send texts of support to me. She gives so much and yet asks for nothing in return. She and dad were peas in a pod, and I know how much she still misses him. As always, I’ll do my best to help her squeeze out an extra drop of pride in her son.
Of course it’s for my dad. I know that I will run across Tower Bridge, and I will look up and that the eyes will mist over. He’s there, with a helicopter view of the whole thing – the most deserved best seat in the house. When the going gets hard, I will be able to hear him in my mind, his foghorn voice as clear as a bell – “on a yard, J!”
It’s for my other family, my Realbuzz one. Oh blimey, where would I start? Well, how can something that is by its very nature a solitary sport engender such a fierce and committed team ethic? I know it’s been said before, but our community is the absolute antithesis of all that is bad about the internet. We encourage, we support, we cheer, we console. Too many of you to name by name, but all of you so special to me – so many of your thoughts and sayings will be swirling around in my head as I run on Sunday. I know that I have challenged myself so much more, and have generally achieved what I set out to do, because of you and I will always be thankful for meeting you. Mile 22.5 will be a special meeting point – to most, 22.5 is just a number, and a slightly strange one at that; to me, it’ll be a rallying point. Like the troops centring on the flag, I’ll head there with a spring in my step. The hugs and cheers that I know await me will spur me on.
It’s for the wonderful volunteers of the RNLI. My fundraising page talks about the way in which they have a totally selfless attitude to what they do – it defies all that is natural to many of us to head out from the safety of the harbour when the storm breaks, or to fall out of a warm bed on a freezing winter’s night when the maroon goes up. Yet that is what they do; heroes and heroines.
It’s for all those who have given so much to help the RNLI – I have been truly humbled by the donations of so many people from so many walks of life. If ever anyone wants to see the best of British, they could do a lot worse than look at this trinity – the London Marathon, the RNLI and the thousands of people who have raised and donated countless millions of pounds.
And, yep, in all of this, it’s for the bloke who stares back at me in the mirror. Four long years he has waited for his return to these streets on this day. Across those years, I have seen the missionary zeal in his eyes as he talks about what he has seen, what he has experienced. I’ve stood with him the other side of the barriers as he has watched every year, as he has cheered and shouted himself hoarse. I have heard the words he speaks, I have seen his eyes mist over as he talks about the sights and sounds. I have shared his emotions. I have heard him scream at the heavens as he hurts on training runs, I have heard his exhortations, in the finest Anglo Saxon, as he faces another bloody hill in this ‘shire that he is so proud to call home.
I know how much this day means to that man, how long he has waited for it to arrive. I know that he didn’t enjoy his London experience last time, how the day and the weight of his own expectations got to him. He felt claustrophobic from all of the crowds wishing him well, he wanted to shout back that he wasn’t looking good. He needed a stern word and the mythical “just a look” from Angus the Brave to bring him home. He’s matured since then, he’s run more miles, he’s become a centurion. He has pledged to run without a time in mind, but with a smile on his face. If you see him breaking that pledge, be sure to give him a slap from me!
So, for one and all, it’s nearly time. Tick has followed tock for four years, and it has brought us to where we are now.
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