Around 4 weeks ago I ran a marathon (26.2 miles) in 3 hours and 52 minutes. On Saturday I ran 16 miles in 4 hours and 15 minutes. Those 4 hours and 15 minutes were the hardest thing I have ever done. I thought the marathon was tough, you need to invent a new word to describe Saturday.
There were 3 of us running that day. Nick Kindred - who set off by himself at around 9.30AM thinking Luke (the other runner) and I would catch him. We set off at around 11. We met my dad - fast becoming the most experienced tube passenger that ever existed - at Stratford at 10.15 and travelled up to Epping - the further point east on the whole of the London Underground. As we were on the tube we were presented with a landscape that resembled the Last of the Summer Wine - fields, trees and not a road in sight. I never liked Last of the Summer Wine and I wasn't going to like this run. The alarm bells began to surface when Nick Kindred sent me a text 'Hope you bought some pavement with you!' - never a good sign. Luke had been suffering from flu all week and had just slowly got over it. I was tired and just a bit of mess. My dad remarked that he hadn't seen us two less up for a run in all the time that we'd done this. Still, 16 miles, we'd be done in a couple of hours and could get straight down to a beer garden and enjoy the amazing weather. I could then go to two house parties that I was meant to be going to with a nice tan, I could look well and I could brag how I banged out 16 miles in 2 hours. I am a very stupid man.
Me and Butler set off from Epping to Theydon Bois and then on to Debden where we'd be meeting my dad. There are those that say Essex is a flat county - I challenge you to go to Epping and run to Theydon Bois and then on to Debden. I'm not a great hill runner. I am also, it turns out, not great at running in PJ bottoms in 20 degrees heat. Put those two things together and suddenly Butler and I were in trouble. It took us over an hour to get to Debden. We were running in the road as there was no pavement. We had to run through fields, jump over bushes and brooks. It would have been an amazing walk but it was a hideous run. Butler was out on his feet. I also had a stomach ache, running with stomach cramps in the heat up hills ain't great fun to be honest. We met my dad who seemed to have a look of genuine concern on his face. He hadn't anticipated the hills. He hadn't anticipated how bad we would be. Who knew where Kindred was? I hoped he was alive! He was out there on his own - I text him but got nothing back. Luke and I ran on and would meet my dad at Loughton. As we began running up another hill Butler lost it. Butler is a guy a who lives close to the edge of sanity anyway but he was that exhausted, that fatigued, he was in that much pain with his knee that he stopped speaking sense. I was genuinely concerned. I met my dad and we managed to, after some struggle, persuade Luke not to run for a bit - he would get on the tube with my dad and I would run the next 4 stops by myself. Luke was not at all up for this but he was on the point of collapse - he was in a shocking way so my dad wasn't going to allow him to run.
I set off by myself. Kindred had text me saying "dying". I took that to mean he was at least still alive! I am not good at running by myself. The temptation to give up. The temptation to stop and to walk. Especially when you are in such pain, when you are exhausted and hot - the temptation was massive. Fortunately I got texts off my girlfriend, my mum and Butler - all of whom told me to keep going. So I did. One hour later I met my dad and Butler. We had two stops to go - Leyton and then Stratford. Butler, ever the idiot, said he WOULD be running that last leg with me. Kindred sent me a text - he'd got to Stratford. An unbelievable effort from someone who doesn't run all that often.
Butler and I ran off. Butler's leg had completely gone - it was laughable. Two men in PJ bottoms running so slowly that they were almost running backwards. The Sheffield Wednesday fans down for the Orient game couldn't believe their eyes. We must have looked as if we were in pain cos cars were hooting, people in the street shouting at us to tell us to keep going. We saw Westfield in the distance and passed a very questionable estate on our left - we'd made it to Stratford. Neither of us could walk, my stomach cramps had got that bad that I dared not look at my pants! I cry at stupid things - s*** films and talent shows. I don't think I have ever cried from pain or exhaustion before - but tears filled my eyes. It was without doubt the most difficult thing I had ever done. Suddenly the house party dream was over - I couldn't stand let alone brag.
Tonight I am running. Tomorrow I am running. Sunday I am running a marathon. I want this to be over by the end of May. I need this to be over by the end of May. We've raised £9250 now. That day the 3 of us ran from Epping to Stratford will live long in the memory for all the wrong reasons. The only thing I took from it was that if you are inspired by a cause or by a person, as I am with Harry, then no matter how bad things get you can achieve whatever it is you want to achieve. You just need to find something that inspires you so much that you can never give up. Harry didn't, and I wasn't about to. In fact I have never been more certain that I'll get this run done.