Yesterday one of my closest friends, Anna Boggi, ran the London Marathon. She has been training like a mad man over the last few months and yesterday, along with thousands of other SUPER-HUMANS, she completed the marathon.
Every year, after I watch Wimbledon I find myself wishing that I could be like Serena Williams. Inspired by the ridiculous standard of play, I convince myself that inside this pathetically mal-coordinated body there is a tennis pro just waiting to come out and that by the following June I will have been scouted and will be the one on Centre Court being cheered on by the nation. A similar thing happens to me after I watch the London Marathon. Every year I watch it and think 'I COULD DO THAT'. I find myself weirdly jealous of the limping, vomiting, exhausted looking people and promise myself that the following day I am going to go for a run and that by the following April, I will be dressed in lycra, waiting on the start line, looking ah-mazinggg, ready to complete the famous course. Unsurprisingly, thus far, neither of these things have happened.
But this year, something changed. Yesterday my friend ran the London Marathon and I was SO inspired by her that today, I put on a pair of trainers and ran until I physically couldn't run anymore. I have a half marathon that I am supposed to be doing next weekend and before today I was fully prepared to pull out. The furthest that I had ever run was 5 miles and training took a back seat whilst I was on holiday thanks to some sea lice bites on my feet that meant that I couldn't put on trainers. (That and one too many rum punches of course). Even this morning, despite wanting nothing more than to be inspired by Anna and the thousands of other runners in yesterday's marathon, I was still searching for a way to pull out of this thing without being beaten to death by my mother with a pair of trainers.
But then I thought about Anna and my friend Sally and my hero Bryony Gordon, all of whom did DOUBLE what I was nervous about yesterday, and I put my trainers on. I had a six mile route planned in my head and as I set off it occurred to me that that was probably a wildly optimistic plan, I've never run further than five miles without a break before. Normally I find myself overthinking running totally, I fixate on the distance, I worry about my time, I get bored of my music, I get grumpy with Bua for pulling on her lead, I hate my shoes and my legs and I get angry with my lungs. But today, all of that noise got cancelled out as all of my efforts and thoughts went to yesterday's marathon.
When I hit the first mile mark I realised that just the day before Anna would have done the same thing and thought, 'I'm only one twenty-sixth of the way through', when I got to five miles (normally my absolute limit) I realised that Anna would have been less than a fifth of the way through and when I got to my eighth (at about the point my legs starting crying) I realised that Anna would only have completely a third of her race. How could I give up now? When she did SO well? Somehow, inspired by my friends and thousands of strangers I pushed myself harder and harder and didn't stop until my body resolutely stopped working at the 10 mile mark. Guys. I RAN 10 MILES TODAY. (Probably would have been a more amazing thing to announce if your Facebook newsfeed wasn't still awash with stories of people doing 26 miles yesterday right?But STILL... 10 miles?!).
Sometimes doing the job that I do can be very lonely, I don't have any other friends that are bloggers and so when I want to talk to my mates during the day, or ask their advice on something, I have to wait to do it when I know that they are on their lunch breaks. I often get lonely with exercise too, although my friends and family do a LOT of it, we are all at very different stages. My mum is a six-time Ironman and my boyfriend is currently in training for his first (and when I say training, I mean, this guy is a MACHINE). So although I am regularly impressed by them, totally in awe and adoration of them even, I often find it hard to deprive inspiration, not because what they are doing isn't inspirational but because it just seems so far away from anything that I could ever achieve.
Over the last few months though, I have really watched Anna work. I have watched her train SO FLIPPING HARD, I have watched her put the time in, I have heard about the blisters and I know that she was so nervous but then, after months and months, I saw it all pay off. I saw her achieve something totally incredible, change her own life, I saw her be amazing. And that inspired me so much more than she will ever know.
In order to do extraordinary things, we need to be surrounded by extraordinary people. Sure, not all of us know the guy that is going to cure cancer, or climb a mountain, or row across the Atlantic or get to space. Not all of our best mate's trapeze professionally or take part in triathlons or organise fundraisers or start a new business. But we all know people who are defying odds, setting challenges and breaking barriers every day. We watch our best friends handle heart break, raise their children on their own, we watch them join the gym, learn to ride a bike or join a rowing club. We watch them work for charities, put others before themselves, overcome eating disorders or mental health problems, we watch them organise their cupboards and keep their houses clean and then sometimes, sometimes, we'll watch them run a marathon. And that's just amazing. These are the people that we need to be inspired by, these are the people to watch, the people that we see every day.
Yesterday Anna did something amazing and in doing so, she lit a fire within me that I am so excited about. Thank you lovely Anna, for being absolutely phenomenal, I'm so proud of you xxx