Four Races, Four Continents
By Marianne McPhee
I’ve always wanted to run a marathon. Except I hated running. So… that made it hard. Really hard.
Then I found a reason. A few years ago, my dad got cancer. He fought it off, but it wasn’t easy; never is with cancer. But I’d decided that someday I would do something to try to help. Then, almost exactly a year ago, my friend Heather and I were stood on the sidelines by Tower Bridge watching the Marathon move through the streets of London. It is unbelievable how emotional it can be, just watching them. Never mind how it must feel to run. I looked over at Heather, who had sadly lost her aunt to cancer, and it was decided there and then. We were going to run a marathon. And we were going to do it to raise money for Cancer Research.
Since neither of us had really been runners before, we decided to build ourselves up to it. A 5k, then a 10k, a half marathon and finally that almighty 42k beast. We signed up for the 5k Race for Life in Hyde Park to start us off. Then we got planning our next three races. Heather and I have both lived in a few different countries and we know, like everyone, that cancer affects the entire world. So we wanted to give ourselves a challenge that would reflect that. And it was born. Four runs, four continents. After the 5k in London, we headed to Morocco for a 10k we organised ourselves with a group of local women runners in a coastal town outside Fez. It was the most unique 10k I think I’ll ever do…
Now we’re less than a month away from our half marathon challenge over the Great Wall of China. While it’s a daunting task, this part of the training hasn’t been the hardest for me. It’s tough on my body sure, but I am still amazed at how much of this is a mental game. The toughest part of this challenge? Training for that 5k. Convincing my body and my mind that I could run for more than 15 minutes at a time was an unbelievable hurdle to cross. It sounds so small now, but at the time, I was a non-runner, who believed she was a non-runner, and I didn’t truly think I could do it. The first time I jogged for 30 minutes straight, I couldn’t believe how amazing it felt. Now I can run for almost two hours straight and I know I can still go further. That is a sense of freedom you can’t get any other way.
Now, I can’t wait for our half marathon before the full marathon takes us overseas again, hopefully to North America. After that? Running has become a part of my life. I’m not sure that will stop. But who knows where it’ll take me.
Follow Marianne on Twitter @FillingthePages to keep up with all her running exploits