After a tough end of year, I found the courage to break free and make it happen for myself. 2017 is, has been and will continue to be my year: I moved out, I found myself a place to live in peace, I bought those little things one buys at the start of a new journey in life and what a joy! My own cups to delight myself with a cup of tea in my window where I sunbathe for as long as I want, on my own chair, in my own time, listening to my beloved music, no one to tell me to be quiet and submissive - those small, precious liberties we forget should be ours, never to give away for anyone!
I then thought I can run a half marathon, because if I wanted, I could. And I did! I started training hard and in March I ran the Eton&Windsor Half Marathon. Just a few months before I thought it wasn't for all mortals to achieve something like that, but you know what? It is, those banal words that say "All you have to do is want it!" are actually true.
Then something else happened and put everything into perspective, once again, clearer than ever. News about a dear friend being diagnosed with breast cancer reached me. It shook my world, it made me realise how we only live once and we have a duty to ourselves to make the most of the little or long time we are given. It made me reflect on how precious life truly is, on how so very often we take it for granted, how we forget to treasure every day and make it the best yet, how we allow the bad and the negative into our life and think it's ok to live with it. I felt a sudden urge to show her my support, to let her see she doesn't have to go through this on her own, to make her feel that hope I was clinging to myself and to show her how much I wanted her to stay positive and believe in herself. I knew how strong will can help you come out of impossible situations, as they may seem. She needed a reminder of how strong she really is - of how strong we all really are.
I searched for the nearest marathon and it didn't scare me it was happening so soon. I just said to myself that I'll keep training and I'll have to make it, there wasn't anything in the world stopping me. It's incredible what strength a deep fall can instill in us. I simply felt I could do it and there was no two ways about it. My friend needed to see that happening in order for her to keep believing in herself. If I could run a marathon, she could fight her battle as well.
The energy on that day was incredible - the buzz, the thrill, the fright, the excitement, the responsibility one feels on one's shoulders when running for a cause - a mix of emotions that can not be accurately described, but has to be experienced. I had never ran 42 km ever before - the most I did in my training was 35 km. My body didn't know what that kind of effort actually meant (I did almost collapse on my 35 Km training session, on my own, with only one small bottle of water and no sugar source to renew my energy - a mindless decision to train like that!), but my mind was so determined that I didn't take into account for a second the possibility of me not finishing, no matter what. We need that frame of mind to take us out of challenging situations that might look like dead end roads. They're not! We have it in us, we simply can if we put our mind to it. I had to show Elena that, I had to give her HOPE that she can do it too, she CAN defeat cancer and I know she WILL.
It wasn't a walk in the park - it was exhausting, it was arduous, grueling, excruciating and it seemed an infinite and lonely journey, when my body was aching terribly, when I almost fainted again at mile 23, when my toenails were ravaged and my knee and ankle were painfully consumed and damaged, but the thought of my friend gave me strength, the thought of the few people that truly love me and supported me on that day kept me going, the wonderful people on the side encouraging me with signs saying "I'm proud of you, random stranger!", the voices reading the message on my t-shirt "Keep fighting, Elena!" gave me wings and made this day the most memorable in recent years! I will never forget the spirit that animated me on those long hours in an unexpected burning sun and I just know I brought HOPE back into my friend's life and mine.
Sun burnt and completely drained, I made it home; cold sores and blisters, bad knee that will take months to recover, wobbly ankle that aches at very step, lost toenails - they're all my beautiful signs of victory and hope. I made it, Elena. We made it! Hope is here to stay! You're here to continue enjoying life. Make the most of it and I'll remind myself to do the same.
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