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!

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!

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