In my mind my Dad is 100 not out. I marked this milestone in a slightly unusual way. My Dad would have turned 100 on 21st April and he would definitely have approved with the way I went about celebrating his big birthday.
On his birthday I would normally have had a small get together at home but this year I didn’t have the time.
On that day I set off on what was my biggest emotional and physical challenge. Something I’d been preparing for since November. I was on my way to run the London marathon. Even when I say this it feels surreal I mean me run 26.2 miles / 42,kms? It sounds bizarre because up and until 2013 the only runs I had done were fun runs and a few half marathons when I was in my 20s.
The training and preparation for this challenge was huge. The only thing I focused on during past 6 months was work and training. My training was the biggest and important focus everything else took second place.
It was a Saturday I got ready sat in front of my Dad (his photo of course) wished him a happy birthday, thanked him for guiding me thus far and told him I was getting him a medal as a gift. Went to the train station to meet up with my three friends who had kindly agreed to accompany me to London including my fabulous Coach and I got the surprise of my life. Two other lovely souls who’ve also been my ardent supporters and friends were waiting to give me a grand send off they held a great big orange banner right in the middle of the train station. The banner said London Marathon May the force be with you!. I was overwhelmed and speechless by this kindness.
Words still fail to describe how taken aback I still am by all the support and kindness these friends so generously gave to me. I wasn’t alone in London my friends were with me. They gave me their time, energy and support and I shall forever be in their debt. They were there waiting to cheer me on at miles 6, 12 and 21 as well as at the end. How blessed I am I know. The many messages of support and encouragement was them taking the place of my Dad to spur me on.
Then we took the train to London during which my Coach briefed me and gave me a pep talk and I felt like a true athlete though deep down I kept thinking I’m a pretender ! I couldn’t have wished for a more devoted Coach. He was with me every step of the way encouraging me to raise my game and monitoring my progress as he knew how important it was that I completed this challenge.
My Dad and her majesty the Queen shares the same birthday and the Queen opened the London marathon on 22.4. So that was another beautiful sign. All my training was done in cold weather conditions but on the day the hottest ever London marathon was predicted. And so it was 25 degrees scorching hot. Last minute the gear had to be changed and so did my strategy.
It’s 28th today day and it still feels surreal that I ran a marathon !
Totally without much conscious planning the hotel we stayed at was only 15 minutes walking distance to the start line. My Coach and I got there on the way he reminded me to focus and go at a steady pace. He believed in me but was equally at tender hooks given the distance involved. I mean the longest distance I’d run until that day was 17 miles never mind 26.2!
For me aside from the fact that I had set this personal challenge riding on that was all those kind folk who had generously donated to St. Gemma’s Hospice. This is a brilliant hospice which provides end of life care and fabulous support to the families. So far monies raised are around £1,437 if you wish to donate the link is below. Your donations will make a difference to many lives.
The gun went and the run I had dreamt of doing started in ernest. I was amongst 40,000 runners, all running for their very personal reasons. I knew I had to respect the distance and the opportunity I had been blessed with. My aim was to enjoy myself, go at a steady place and be proud of myself. 7 hours 18 minutes and 8 seconds later I was stood having my picture taken having completed my first ever marathon, the London marathon 2018 with the medal around my neck. I looked up in the sky and said thank you Father and thank you God for helping me to get here.
Looking back I can say everything unfolded in a magical way. Even my energy and stamina was exceptional given the distance. I looked quite alive at the end though this could be the joy of completing this feat. I knew whatever the outcome my Dad would be proud of me but what struck me was the love and support I received from everyone. Not finishing the run was not an option minus any injury. So this was a magnificent achievement considering my journey over the last four years and four months since my Dad’s death. They say if it doesn’t break you grief will make you stronger. In my case I was broken but slowly the pieces of my life are being put together. I am the same but I have an .understanding I didn’t have before. I wouldn’t go as far as saying I’m enlightened but I’ve learnt a lot. I haven’t achieved this on my own many kind souls have contributed to this and have helped me grow.
My Dad died at the grand old age of 95 and though he’s no more it was important to me to celebrate his 100 th birthday because he never lost his zest for life. I see him willing me on to LIVE and THRIVE.
The run up to April has been emotionally trying. My final gift to my dear Dad on his birthday is me fulfilling his last wish to come to Mauritius which is where I am writing this blog from. I am sat on the edge of the Indian ocean on a sandy beach at a tiny resort on the east of Mauritius.
My trip here is a pilgrimage and a homage to this great man whom I’m proud to call my father. We shared a deep connection very loving and very respectful. Completing the London marathon and my trip to Mauritius is my tribute to my father and his life.
Happy birthday dear Pops!!
If you are grieving for the loss of a special and significant person please don’t lose heart. Your love is bigger than your loss. They would want you to live life to the full. So do it and do it on your terms…