I’m raising money for Cancer Research UK but getting people to sponsor me in the Paris Marathon in April. I haven’t trained hard enough and I’m worried I won’t be able to cut it, but I’m still determined to try. There are a lot of reasons why I’m doing this. I want to prove to myself and to others that I have the discipline to follow through.
I want to raise money for CR rather than any other charity because we lost my father in law, Chris to prostate cancer two and a half years ago. I remember the day we found out about his illness. My husband and I had just been to the cinema watching LOTR The Two Towers. I was elated, having loved the first film and the books. I was impressed with Peter Jackson’s interpretation and suddenly developed a crush of David Wenham, the Aussie actor that played Faramir. We got into the car and the phone went. It was Mum. She told us the test results and we sat there quiet for a moment. It didn’t quite sink in for a while. In fact, it was months before I allowed the possibility of anything ever really happening to him to penetrate my mind. This man had climbed mountains, was a scholar, taught me rugby, took me to my first Arsenal game at Highbury, taught me badminton and covered the back court when we played doubles. He was my Dad away from home in California. He’s the reason why I run races for that charity every year and it’ll be him that I think about when I crawl over the finish line on the Champs Elysées.
I’m not a noble person. I’m actually a bit of a self and work obsessed fuck up. When I run, whether its on the road or on the treadmill, I have my ipod set to play fast tracks to set me pace, but I’m not really listening. I’m thinking. I shut out the world and think about things. I think of my family, so far away from me and the fact that I never call. I promise myself to be better, knowing that the habit of waiting for my mother to ring me at the weekends, instead of picking up the phone and dialing myself is a hard habit for me to shake. I think about my husband and how he puts himself at risk every week by climbing mountains in the snow for fun. Climbing is in his blood and although I’ll never stop him, I hold my breathe whenever he pulls out of the drive at 6am. This is our 15th Valentine’s Day. I want at least 15 more, but I spend more time with my Blackberry and my laptop than I do with him. I think about my workaholic tendencies. As I run, I make resolutions about being better in all the ways people need me to be. I run and run and promise myself to change my priorities, to read more, to spend time with the people I love, to get away from remote control and computer a couple of days a week.
I push myself hard on the treadmill, as though I’m running away from the unpleasant things I don’t want to face when I’m around others. I’m running this marathon to test myself and in some small way to atone for the things that are wrong in my life. It’s odd and makes no sense, but I feel like finishing that race will somehow help me prove something to myself. Maybe it’ll prove that I have the strength of mind and the will to change.