Just a quick note, my blog is primarily based on personal views and experience, sometimes referring to research and some background information, with the aim of helping anyone who may be suffering, or know of anyone suffering from a mental health illness. I would welcome any advice and feedback on my blogs, or your personal thoughts on the topic.
This specific post describes my experience of the Great Birmingham Run – a non-specific run, where you can participate to raise money for any charity or cause that you have a special connection towards. Without any doubt, I knew I wanted to run for a mental health charity – which is why I chose Mind.
Saturday evening: 1 night till the big run… my nerves took over in the evening and I literally froze thinking of the run. I wandered how I would make it the full length of the half marathon. I knew that I would do it in some way, but I was so nervous about the whole thing – Would I wake up in time? Would I make it to the starting point in time? Would I get funny looks for running like Phoebe from friends (that’s how I look running after a couple of miles)!
I fell asleep.
Sunday morning: Day of the run… I woke up, got ready, and as I sat down to eat my breakfast, my nerves decided to get the best of me again. I thought about how this was my first run, and I began wandering how I would do it… but then I remembered that I was doing this for charity, for mind – to help those with a mental illness and to help increase mental health awareness.
I realised I was late, so I left my bowl at the edge of the sink, got my stuff ready, and left. I rushed over to the meeting point before the start time of my wave in the run. I got to the designated area for my wave, and joined the queue for the toilets in preparation for the start of the run. The nerves kicked in as I was waiting, mostly because of the amount of people I saw around me. I was overwhelmed. With a turnout of 200,000 people running in the event, I was taken back. On top of that, there were spectators, family and friends, news crews, assisting staff members, and shoppers stopping to watch. Nevertheless, I made my way to the start line, and was unexpectedly poked on the back from behind. I turned around and saw someone standing next to me, pointing at the vest that Mind (the charity I was running for) had sent me to wear – ‘I’m running for mental health too. Not mind, but still for mental health. You’re doing an amazing job.’ I was taken back, I almost didn’t know how to respond, and so I replied ‘Thank you, so are you! What made you run in support of better mental health then?’ So my first conversation of the day began, and it really helped to calm my nerves knowing that I wasn’t the only one running alone, that there were others – so many others, and the people there were really supportive and friendly.
Just as my nerves began to calm, the announcers called out ‘Get ready pink wave’, and within seconds, I saw the thousands of other pink wave runners’ storm off in pursuit of the finish line. I began running, running with my headphones in – aiming to concentrate solely on getting to the finish line. 1 mile, 2 miles, 3 miles – the signs began to appear, showing the progress, and I was so motivated. Then, no sign of 4 miles. I began to feel tired. Just as I began to slow down, I saw so many supporters on the side – families, parents, friends, children – all screaming and cheering, sticking their hands out for runners to storm past and ‘high five’ them on the way. The atmosphere was amazing- the people were so supportive – so I picked myself up, took a deep breath, and commenced running. Along the way, there was an immense atmospohere – several bands lined the route, playing different instruments, there was supporters on their front lawns, families and friends gathered along the route with big banners, and charity specific buses around the outskirts of the route – ready to support those running for their specific charity!
5 miles… 6 miles… 7 miles… by this point, I must have exchanged ‘hello’, ‘bye, and good luck’ with at least 20 of the other runners as I ran past them, or they ran past me (as was the case in most instances, ha!) Then we got to 8 miles, and I began to slow down … my legs were really beginning to feel the brunt of the 8 miles I had just ran! I decided to walk for a bit to gather my energy. I met someone else – this time a lady running in memory of someone she had lost from a battle with cancer – she was running to raise money for a cancer charity. We spoke for a good 5 minutes as we walked and forgot about our leg pain. We both somehow encouraged each other to carry on running. ‘Good luck – see you at the other end’, we exchanged, before we commenced running. We passed many historic landmarks along our route – passing through the city, and through many neighbouring areas. We passed through Cadbury’s, Edgbaston cricket ground, and other areas too.
9 miles… 10 miles… 11 miles… Oh no, the dreaded hill – which apparently makes this run the hardest rated one! I could see people ahead of me climbing higher – no longer running – everyone began to walk (as did I). I attempted to run, but realised that I should reserve my energy for the long awaited end, so I decided to walk! The hill was a slow, steep hill that required much energy – all of which I feel had been left behind by around… say 5 miles! Several people (shockingly) raced past, uttering words of encouragement as they went by ‘come on, you can do this mate!’ … and before I knew it … 12 miles! Only 1.1 miles left until the end! Almost there!
We had soon reached the end of the underpass, and by this point, most runners (include me) were ready and set to zoom past the finish line. Before I knew it, the finish line was in sight. As I crossed the finish line, we were cheered on by thousands of spectators … I was greeted by a very proud father who recorded me running past the finish line (and for about a mile after!) Then off we went for a very well deserved lunch (if I say so myself!)
I’d just like to say a massive thank you to everyone who sponsored me, and to those who came out to support us all along the way! The atmosphere was amazing… from people clapping and cheering, dhols and drums playing, through to people playing music from their houses for us, people handing out water and sweets, to people standing on their front lawns banging a saucepan with a wooden spoon!! The support was crazy, and I met some great people along the way too!! This one was for all those (silently or not) suffering from a mental illness!
If you would like to donate anything in support of the run, please click here. All proceeds are donated straight to the designated charity – in this case, Mind.
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