Sunday 26th February. A special date for a couple of reasons - it was my Nan's birthday, who died from Cancer and it was the day I did my first ever marathon in aid of Cancer Research UK - the Help Harry Help Others campaign.
Before yesterday my friends and I had ran 210 miles. We had run in all weathers, we'd suffered various injuries along the way but we were just so determined to finish the challenge - the challenge of running all 430 miles of the London Underground. The challenge of raising £10,000 for a charity that we believe in. Big time.
Harry Moseley lost his life at the age of 11. He had an inoperable brain tumour but his family, his incredible family, are so determined to make his dream come true. Harry's dream was simply that no one had to suffer like him - to rid the world of brain tumours. And his family work tirelessly to take that dream and make it a reality. They say hope is grief's best music and I think the hope of one day Harry's dream becoming reality is helping them live day to day.
We had raised around £6000 and the donations were slowing down so I thought we had to make the challenge bigger, more ridiculous. The bigger the challenge the more likely people are to donate. So I said we would commit to not only run a half marathon each week but also one marathon a month. Yesterday was the first marathon. We would be running from Barking at the end of zone four to Hammersmith, the end of Zone 2. We were running the whole of the Hammersmith and City line - the line itself is not 26 miles, it is a shade under 20 but when running and running the route we took it ended up being 26.5 miles. There were 4 of us who were going to do it. Myself, Martin and the two girls - Chloe and Becki. Martin and I had been run around a half marathon every week since the new year together but never any longer than that since January because of my knee's and my physio who ordered me to not run above 12-13. The girls had not run for a while so to tackle a marathon was a huge, huge ask.
I went out the night before and got to bed at 1am - preparation is so important! I also had a whole packet of Maryland Cookies and a glass of milk for breakfast - it is important to have a proper runners diet! I put my knee supports on, I put my PJ bottoms on and I headed out - nervous and not at all up for it. The girls were starting around an hour and a half before us and were already at West Ham by the time I got anywhere near Barking. I got a text off of one of my best mates - Nick Jellett who said if I completed it then he'd donate £100! As I say around a month ago we were sitting at £6000 raised. After the marathon we are above £7600 - a sum we are really proud of. The gamble of the marathons paid off - we'd generated an extra £1500. Now we just had to run them!
I met Martin and met the support crew - the old man. Martin and I were a little nervous. We are not runners. I am not sure what we are but we certainly aren't runners. I was wearing two knee supports and began stretching. My groin had been playing up since the last run. Add a problem with my right foot and I was looking at a marathon with 4 injuries. Excellent. We shook hands with the old man and he went off to meet the girls and give them some waters and Gel's. They'd made great progress and met him at Mile End. Chloe was struggling badly with her hip and Becki was high on gel's. Martin and I meanwhile were running pretty quickly and ran the first 8.8 miles in just under an hour and met the support crew for a much needed gel, mars bar and swig of water. We then met the girls at Whitechapel station, got a quick picture - we wished each other luck and powered on.
Martin and I got to Farringdon pretty quickly and felt pretty good. And then we ran up Farringdon road - a road with a big hill. We got to the top of that and we were wiped. It completely killed us. My groin was in bits, my knees hurt and I could feel my foot going. Martin had aches all over his body and we still had around 11-12 miles left to run. We also knew the girls were in a lot of pain and suddenly I think we all thought we'd bitten off more than we could chew.
Martin and I got to Baker Street and I know that we both considered throwing in the towel. I was out on my feet. So was Martin. I can't really explain how much pain I was in. But at that moment I got a text from my girlfriend and from my mum and I remembered why I was doing it. I also remembered the £100 that was promised by my mate Nick if I finished. Yes it hurt. Yes I was in pain. So was Martin. So were the girls. But I had the chance to achieve something, to make a difference. I am a huge believer if you want something enough you can achieve it. Especially when so many great people are willing you on. So we carried on...
Martin told me, with a few miles to go, that he had never been in that much pain before. I ran up Shepherds Bush Road and could see Hammersmith in the distance and the pride and relief I felt is a moment I will never forget. I'd done it. I had run a marathon in 3 hours and 52 minutes. The girls managed to break their 7 hour target and they too completed it. 4 people who could have given up but didn't. Harry could have given up but didn't. Lance Armstrong once said "If children have the ability to ignore all odds and percentages, then maybe we can all learn from them. When you think about it, what other choice is there but to hope? We have two options, medically and emotionally: give up, or fight like hell". And that is the reason we are doing this. Cancer is a sentence and not a word. We need to change that. We need to make Harry's dream a reality. For now all that we can do is our bit. Harry was the inspiration I needed to get off my arse and do something. I'd just wished to hell I'd done it earlier...I just wish that cancer was just a word to my Nan and to Harry and not a sentence. I think my Nan and Harry would be proud of me and the guys, for the first time in my life I was proud of me. I'd done a marathon. And I'd done it when every sinew of my being was screaming at me to give up. Let's not give up. Let's kill cancer.