5 days later

I have had a headache for five days. It’s probably a tension headache, or maybe I just need an eye test, but it’s agonising. It’s sitting in the back of my head, refusing to budge no matter how much water I drink or pain meds I take. I gave up with the pain meds 2 days ago, but I have a Skype meeting this evening that I cannot miss, so I’m going to try again.

It’s exhausting, I have too much to do, and I’ve just dissolved into tears. I’m going home tomorrow, but I’m off to volunteer for a week on Sunday. I’m only home for 24 hours before I need to be a responsible adult, and I can’t go feeling like this.

I can feel my shoulders raised, but I can’t relax them. My head is excruciating, and I really am not coping this evening. I need a hug, that’s the only time I’ve ever been able to physically feel tension swim out of my body.

I want to go home. I want to go to bed. I want this to go away. I have too many other things on my plate right now.

How I’m Going to ‘Keep on Running’

It’s only 86 hours until I run the 10K Race for Life. There is absolutely no way that I feel like I’m well enough prepared. I went out for my first ever 10K run with my best friend personal trainer yesterday. I love that girl, but my god is she a pain in the bum when I’m exhausted. I’ve decided that I prefer her as my best friend, but even then, we didn’t run the whole thing. I’m mentally kicking myself for it. This weekend, I WILL succeed. I have a goal – to not stop running – and I AM going to achieve it. I don’t care if it takes me two hours, as long as I don’t walk. My aim however is 1hr 20 mins, and I’ll be bouncing if I do it in 1hr 10. If by some miracle I manage 1hr 5 or even faster, please have an inhaler ready, because I’d be on top of the universe if I managed that, never mind the world. I’ve been reading around, and thinking about things that my friend has told me, and I’ve grouped my tactics into six categories:

1. It’s all mental. A positive mental attitude will be what gets me through this, and even though I’ve probably never had a positive mental attitude in my life, I’m going to start now. All I have to do is just keep running, because I don’t want to be a failure. I’m always a failure, and I don’t want that this time. I want to achieve, and I want to be proud of myself. Maybe, just maybe, if I’m really lucky, I might make somebody else proud of me too. I can’t even begin to imagine how amazing that would feel.

2. Reward. I’m not 100% sure yet what I’m going to reward myself with, but there will be one. And I’m going to tell my friends that if I walk, they’re not allowed to let me have it. I know that I’m not running this race for me. It’s not about me, and it never will be about me, but having that little something to look forward to might just push me on, especially if it’s cold and wet. That reward is going to consist of a flask of chai, but also something else. Probably another edible treat, if I’m completely honest. But perhaps a notepad, too. A really pretty notepad so that I can draw to my hearts content, and keep it all in one place. I know that’d make me really happy.

3. The world around me. I’m running the race for life, for goodness sake. At least the firstly ten minutes is going to be spent reading people’s back signs, thinking, and sympathising. I couldn’t fit on everybody who I’d want to onto mine, so I picked the one who is the most positive – the survivor. And someone my own age. But there will be many many people there with names of people who have died, or are even just racing for fun. I love to read the back signs as I jog along, and it will spur me on. My first line of defence when the tiredness hits will be to think about the pain of hearing that someone has or might have cancer. Trust me, I’ve heard it more than once, and it’s crushing. But I’m running for the pain to stop. I’m running for a cure. And I’m going to be sending £352.50 to Cancer Research, and the same to The Little Princess Trust, and that’s why it matters. They will find a cure, and the physical pain I have to go through while running is nothing compared to the smiles that it will give to another.

4. Improving with each stride. My best friend has taught me how to run. She’s told me about the posture, the breathing, the pace. Admittedly, I’m still pretty damn rubbish at it, but concentrating on a better posture could keep me going for another few minutes. Even counting my strides, and setting myself targets. That tree. Okay, now that bush. That bench. Look, there’s the sign for 5K, half way there!

5. Distraction. Distraction has always worked wonders with me. I can be having the hardest day ever, but if you can distract me, I’ll be fine. I’ve found that talking while I’m running can really help. Of course, I won’t have that this time – my best friend will be much faster than me. Instead, I’m going to give myself some alternatives. I’ve always been a keen mathematician, and I read somewhere that numbers can really help to pass the time, and also to strive for goals. How many strides am I taking in a minute? I’ve run the first kilometre in so much time, so how long will it take if I continue at this pace? What fraction of the way there am I? How many strides until the top of that hill? How many people can I see who are younger than me? How many houses are there?
There’s other things too, that aren’t numbers. Can I guess what her job might be? If I give that kid a high five, maybe they’ll carry on? What am I going to have for tea tonight? Can I remember those key words for biology? What can I cross off my bucket list next year? What’s it going to be like when I go to Turkey with my best friend? How’s uni going to be? What do I need to buy for uni? Is there any teachers I need to see before my next exam?
Got the idea yet?

And finally, number six… The thing that will really keep me going is the thought that my best friend is faster than me, but as soon as she’s done, she’s going to come back and run the last bit with me. She’s going to spur me on, and we’re going to cross the finish line together. And yes, my head is a little weird, and I’ll make that seem more than it is. It’ll mean more to me than just finishing the race. It’s about friendship, future, and a silent promise to never forget. Every time we do something together, we get a little closer, and I feel a little more sure that university won’t separate us, because we won’t allow it to.

So, wish me luck. I sure as hell am going to need it. I’ll let you know how the plan goes, and I’ll let you know my time. Here’s hoping that I finish with a smile on my face. Secretly though, at the same time as dreading it, I’m just a tiny weeny bit excited.

Living. Laughing. Loving.

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