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You know those beautiful moments you have when your whole body gets goose bumps and for a short time you’re immersed in joy…

Just an hour ago I was on the way back from Canvey Island on the bus on a very familiar and scenic route home. I spent so much of my childhood on Canvey for the beach, or the old fair, boy Scouts (which is called Beavers when you’re young), the Yacht club and my dads boat. The new buses have giant windows, it’s like a fish-bowl on wheels. In the distance I could see Essex country park stretching along the Thames Estuary (which is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful Estuaries in the world, John Constable use to paint it), in the foreground there were the masts of boats, flowers and loads of birds on the RSPB grounds. BOOM the goose bumps hit me like a warm wave of water, I was in an oragasm of nostalgia. For the first time since leaving for university in the year 2000 I KNEW I was home. I pictured my feet in the soft grassy ground and I was so happy, I think this is what you call Grace.

I am home, and though I know I will be off travelling around the world one day this WILL ALWAYS be my home, with my family and my friends and I will always return here because it is where my heart is.

* A note to self –

I just this second finished a short run, whilst running I was able to define one of my biggest issues (this is why I love running!) and here it is:

When I feel bad, I feel really bad, completely useless and a waste of space. When I feel good, I feel really good, can do anything and nothing will stop me.  Both of these extremes have exactly the same result and blind me from my TRUE potential.

However I am feeling this time I will remind myself to stay grounded and appreciate and work with what I have. In short DON’T BE LAZY!

Need water!

Marathons (thank you Tom)

There were 2 extremely positive days in the midst of my struggles. In 2012 whilst in Brighton I knew I was getting very unhealthy and I quickly and desperately needed an incentive to try and get me motivated. I signed up for a charity position for Mind in the Brighton Marathon about 4 months before, and got a place! I had never run a marathon before and I knew I now had to stop smoking and drinking and start training or otherwise it was going to be yet another failure and humiliation to add to the growing list!

I trained as hard as I could but very quickly run into problems with my ankle and knees. They simply were not use to it so I had to run very carefully in case I caused further injuries. I did cut down on my smoking and drinking but my nights out were just as often as before.

The day of the marathon arrived, it was perfect weather; sunny and reached about 15 degree C. The first 6-7 miles were so much fun, the crowds were amazing and the views stunning and I was feeling strong. Around 9 miles though the course hit a big hill up the coast line. I really started to struggle and still had 17 MILES TO GO!

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A very skinny Alan, Brighton marathon finish line, 2012

At about half way I stopped for a wee, lactic acid rushed into my muscles and they froze, solid. It took me about 30 mins to get running properly again, the pain was immense, I hit the wall far too early! The remaining 13 miles were the biggest mentally driven challenge of my life so far. Every step was excruciating and the only way I got through it was to dedicate every step to someone in my life – my granddad, my family, my friends, Liam, Dom, Mike, Ben, Nick, myself… The pain felt as if it was never going to end, I was massively under-prepared but I was NOT GIVING UP. My friends support on the day was amazing and I couldn’t of done it without them. I crossed the finish line at 5 hours and 15 minutes and went straight to the pub. The next 2 days I could not walk but the sense of achievement I felt was different to anything I had done before because it was a physically enduring battle.

2 years later I signed up to the London Marathon for WWF. I knew it was a good way at keeping me fit and keeping my strength up in between all the “partying”. However 2 months before I was a complete mess and there was no way I was running 2 miles let alone 26.2! It was early February and whilst out all night in Vauxhall, London, I met a guy called Tom. He was beautiful, caring and for whatever reason he took me under his wing. The next day I told him I was running the marathon and he supplied me with priceless tips about nutrition, diet, exercise and natural and herbal supplements. He helped me to turn my life around in 2 months. Marathon day arrived, again the weather was sunny and temperatures rose to around 16 degrees C. The support from the crowds was unlike anything I had experienced before. It was very painful but I remembered the pain well and my mum, sister and her girlfriend Zoe were there to cheer me on. I wizzed round in 3 hours and 53 minutes, I could not believe it, I was aiming for 4 hours 30. This was and still is my most enjoyable and rewarding achievement to date and a day I will never forget! However it would never of happened without Tom, and I am so grateful to have met him!

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Half-way, London marathon 2014. Thank you Tom x