It was here, the weekend I had been training relentlessly for, for over a year. Tomorrow I was to run the Brighton Midnight Half Marathon. Quite what possessed me to choose a night run I do not know, but then, what sane person wants to runs 13.1 miles anyway? I devised a plan to stay awake all night and rest throughout the day on the basis that I would then have the correct energy levels going into the run. I managed to keep my bleary eyes open through to 7am when Facebook, Twitter and YouTube held no more appeal. I set my alarm for 5pm and lay my head down to rest.
At 1pm my natural body clock woke me up and after half an hour of uselessly telling myself I could go back to sleep I chastised myself for having such a failed plan and got myself up out of bed to ponder on the fact that I would be running on six hours sleep. I made myself a hearty running meal comprising of pasta, chicken and vegetables at around 6pm and then spent the remaining time mentally psyching myself up for the unknown.
I was very blessed to have my parents and brother come along for the journey with me. We all bundled into my car and arrived in a very cold Brighton at 10:30pm. I signed myself in, attached my running chip to my trainer, firmly fixed my head torch to my beanie hat and started to warm up. Looking around, it seemed I was one of the younger runners and clearly less experienced judging from the specialised clothing everybody was wearing. Nonetheless I put my earphones in and waited for the run to begin.
The start of the run consisted of a nice easy stretch from halfway up the beach to the pier at the top. I found myself concentrating on my breathing trying to get into a pattern and zoning out to the beat of the music. Three miles passed in almost rhythmic fashion. I was so used to running three miles as a minimum training run that it hardly registered. However, as well signposted as it was, I still managed to run off course and had to backtrack to find the course signs!
Mile five took me to a hill approximately 1 and half miles long! I am not ashamed to say I had to have a breather now and again for that one. Mile seven hit me with a slope consisting of loose rocks and pebbles outlined with trees either side. Needless to say I was thankful for the head torch but it did hamper my running as I cautiously climbed up to the top. Mile eight saw me flowing again until I missed the slope UP the bank to the path and carried on running through mud straight into a stream (easily done in the dark!) I berated myself for all of ten minutes and then, sodden trainers and socks at the back of my mind I ploughed on. It was roughly around this time that I realised there was just me. Runners had been passing me throughout the run but the stream had died down and it was quite daunting running an unknown route, a girl alone, along deserted streets and unlit country roads.
At mile 10 I realised I was now running ahead of a girl that had passed me a few times. She would overtake and then I would in a seemingly cat and mouse type fashion. It was comforting to look behind and see her still there as I began to question whether I was running the right way. The front of my right leg had begun to feel quite tight and each step seemed to set about a shooting pain. I began to feel like I had reached the wall. Doubts crept in about whether I would make the end and a few tears were shed. Just before I reached the 11th mile marker I asked some volunteers at a water station how far I had to go, barely keeping myself from breaking down. They told me it was literally down the road and then I was on the seafront. I knew the seafront meant the end and sheer determination spurred me on to only two miles to go. Damned if I wasn’t going to make it having run just run 11 miles.
Reaching mile 12 was amazing! I began to finally think the end is in sight. My leg was screaming and I had to embrace a run-walk technique but I was feeling as positive as I could. I cannot describe to you how long that last mile was. The mind can do funny things to you when you are at your limit and what I thought must have been a mile was possibly only a quarter of a mile. It was during the long mile as I like to recall it that I looked out at the expanse of sea to my right and I questioned my reasoning. I re-lived my first meeting with Ian. I remembered the way he talked about the IS Foundation, the compassion and sheer honesty in his face when he talked about his ideas for the world and its creatures. I remembered the support ISF had given me, in particular Kim. I had previously been training for a full marathon, but due to injury had to pull out at the last minute and start from scratch. The emotional frustration that I had felt was immense. Kim never wrote me off as a failure after my injury, she encouraged and supported me. I remembered my ISF family, many of whom I will never get to meet but who took time to send me daily tweets of encouragement as I slogged it at another training session and who donated their money believing in me. My friends and family for their unwavering support through the months when I was too busy training to be sociable. It was YOU! You were the entire last mile for me. You got me through!
I saw the end coming upon me, I took out my earphones, I listened to my laboured breathing and I saw my family waiting for me at the end. I cried my eyes out as I ran to them having run for three hours in freezing wet conditions. Wrapping a foil blanket around me and collecting my medal you would have thought I had just won the lottery. I had done it! I hobbled back to cheer my girl behind me over the line and it was complete! I walked in a frozen daze back to the car where it must have taken me twenty minutes of warm air to feel my hands again.
That’s my story. I achieved something I never thought I would be able to do because ISF has inspired me. It’s created a family willing to try and make a positive impact on the world. I am proud to be a part of this family and I look forward (really?) to starting my training for the full marathon. I truly wish I could tell you how much you pulled me through with your support but I hope the pictures of me with my medal are enough.
I am literally blown away by the amount we have raised on crowdrise! I will continue to strive towards the goal because the work of ISF is truly inspiring and I hope you will continue to also.
Back in June 2011 I was lucky enough to meet the creator of the IS Foundation Ian Somerhalder and he absolutely blew my mind. To meet somebody who is so passionate about what they believe and who really wanted to make a difference definitely changed something inside me and inspired me to support the cause all the way whilst trying to make my own changes.
We bandied around some ideas and I came up with running a marathon to raise some funds and get the ISF message out there. The goal is to raise £5000 which I was told by Ian would save at least 400 acres of land... I mean WOW?! Who would want to destroy 400 acres of land anyway?!
So I got home and immediately set into motion this plan... Gym membership, personal trainer, complete diet and lifestyle overhaul but only one goal in mind... Helping to create change! I hope you will all jump on board and help me though!
If the IS Foundation are to grow, then they need funds! Currently they are looking to build an animal sanctury which seeks to take care of abused animals yet also educate and help the people who do the abusing. How many animal shelters do you know that do that? What an amazing project to be a part of right? ISF think BIG! Lets get behind this charity!
So I will be doing this project in two halves... Starting with a half marathon and then the full marathon.
People, lets be part of something big!!