It’s been just over a month now since I ran my first half marathon. I’ve had just enough time to let it all sink in and I think I can say, with some confidence, it probably constitutes the happiest day of my life.
This probably seems like an odd thing to say. I mean, we are talking about a race after all. A long, sweaty, uncomfortable, painful race involving a lot of sweaty, uncomfortable, painful training. When talking about the ‘happiest day’ its usually a wedding that people are espousing, and mine was no different. It was a phenomenal day full of beautiful places and things, wonderful people and very sincere vows. It was a deliriously happy day. But there were a few moments, there always are, of compromise and politics. Not enough to sully the day, but enough to evoke the occasional sigh when you look back at it.
And as for the other euphemistic happy event, the birth of my two children. Those were overwhelmingly happy too. Two perfect, healthy, much wanted little people who have given me far, far more than I deserve. But the births themselves were f&*#ing sore and the second one in particular coloured by much anguish over his massively complicated pregnancy and prematurity.
But last month’s run? It was perfect. It was possibly the only event I can think of in my life that was done my way, on my terms, because I wanted to do it. When I look back on it, there is not a single stain on the memory. I had the blessing of friends and family who were on hand to advise and to help. My husband ran with me but at my pace. He supported my training unconditionally, and took brilliant care of the kids while I was out. Once or twice he even surmised my route and arranged to be at my finish spot just to congratulate me and hand me a drink. Each time the thoughtfulness and sheer surprise of this touched me more than a hundred bouquets of roses.
And when the race day dawned and I had only me to think about. In a household where morning routines are usually dominated by packing lunchboxes, finding errant shoes, yelling at unresponsive children and racing the clock before the school bell it was purely blissful to wake up, pull on my own kit, sip my own coffee, casually stretch and then head out the door. The children were at a sleepover so the unfamiliar peace of the house was peculiar but lovely.
And from the starters gun, to the tentative wobbly first kilometres on an untested leg, to the panoramic vistas of King’s Park, to the metronome of Broadway’s finest crooning and sashaying me on through the headphones of my ipod, to the growing confidence ballooning up through my body, to the encouragement from the other runners and the joy of the finish line, it was just a perfect day.
But the main reason I loved it so much was because I proved to myself that I could do it. For years I had believed the whisperings in my head that I was too slow, too fat, too busy, too frizzy, too unsuitable to be anything else. But having set the goal, having found the support and the motivation to achieve it, I finally did. And to be honest, that is why it was such a happy day. The sirens who loll so artfully on the rocks of apathy and sing that blissful, inviting song about stopping, turning around and opening another packet of biscuits were for once, perfectly silent. And the medal that now hangs beside my bed is my quiet nod to the goddess within me, one who has banished the doubts, at least for a little while.