For those of you who know nothing about me, please allow me to introduce you to a very important person in my life:
[NOTE: This is an archived post originally published on One Small Step, a blog I maintained during my training for the 2012 London Marathon.]
Her name is Stacy.
Stacy is my best friend, provider of unwavering support and most valued source of never-ending encouragement in all that I do.
Yet when I told her I’d signed up to tackle the Virgin London Marathon, her face softened and a deep look of concern drifted before her gorgeous green eyes.
“You don’t have to do this, you know.” she said.
“I know,” I replied. “But I want to.”
Elsewhere, the reaction wasn’t too dissimilar.
My parents’ first words when I told them the news:
“How on earth do you plan to run a marathon?”
“Basically, I plan to put one foot in front of the other for a while until I reach the finish line,” I told them, only half joking.
“So you sure you’re not just gonna say you’ll do it and then go to the pub instead?” asked an old, dear friend and former drinking companion.
“No, that would just be silly.” I offered in retort.
Though it may sound like those closest to me aren’t exactly supportive of my marathon mission, that isn’t exactly true.
If I told Stace I wanted to climb a ladder to the moon, not only would she be right behind me, but she’d probably be on the phone to her local hardware store trying to find me a ladder big enough, and since I convinced her I was deadly serious about this challenge, she’s been nothing but her usual awesome ever-encouraging self.
My parents have been as supportive as they know how to be, and are paying a keen interest in my early training efforts, and I’m sure somewhere in his heart my drinking buddy also wishes me the best of luck despite still being unconvinced that I’d cross the finish line.
No, the reason those first reactions to my news were not exactly what you might expect is simply this:
The Chris they know isn’t really well equipped for running 26-and-a-bit miles.
They know Chris as an ardent chain-smoker with a weakness for whiskey whose idea of strenuous exercise involves lifting a heavy pizza to his mouth.
They know a guy whose knees are prone to blowing out from under him on a whim thanks to an abundance of rough play as a young lad. They know a guy who woke up one morning in 2008 with crippling back pain and still hasn’t made a full recovery, the same guy who struggles to walk some mornings thanks to said back pain.
Yet I bet if you asked them to be entirely honest, they’d tell you they also know a guy who, whatever else he may be, is an entirely stubborn bastard; if he tells you he’s going to complete a marathon, he’s going to complete a marathon, even if only by putting one foot in front of the other for a while.
Prologue: I did complete the London Marathon that year. I achieved an amazingly slow finish time, but that’s besides the point.