A blog about travel, books and navigating your twenties in one piece

Saturday, 9 May 2020

Training for My First Half Marathon || Run For Tai

I have never been into exercise. I think the closest I've come to having a passion for 'sport' would be Irish dancing which I did between the ages of eight and ten (and yes I don't think that really counts as a sport).

Over the past few years aside from a few bursts of motivation to go the gym, never usually lasting more than six weeks,  my exercise has been from yoga and pilates, and the occasional touch rugby match at uni I was dragged into by my housemates.

When I was in New Zealand and staying with my sister Tai, she got out for a run in her local woods at least a few times a week, fitting this in on top of her job as a midwife and looking after my two nieces. I noticed how important it was for her and we talked about how it helped her to release some stress and tension. She was the best Mum I've met and this was just another way she was an example - she knew it was really important if she were going to be able to be a great Mum to take that time for herself where she could; the whole you have to fill your own cup before you can pour from it in action, and it was amazing to see.

Tai ran the Saint Clair Vineyard Half Marathon in Marlborough quite a few times, including last year, and it couldn't have been more Tai; at the end you receive a bottle of Saint Clair's wine (whose riesling was my favourite wine I tasted in NZ) and Tai adored a glass or two of wine.

Once during my stay there Tai asked me if I wanted to come with her for a run. Slightly terrified at the prospect but wanting to have that sisterly bonding time, I said why not and we took her two dogs Zac and Pippa with us. Flash forward thirty minutes and I was trying to keep a smile on my face while feeling on the brink of a heart attack and wondering how people ever fall in love with running if that is what it's like. I gave up after one lap of the woods, took home Pippa who was very much on my energy level and left Tai to do another loop with the much more energetic of the dogs, Zac.

After Tai died some of her amazing friends started to train for a run in September 2019 to raise money in Tai's name. As a midwife, Tai cared tirelessly for the mothers she looked after and their babies and I have never met someone who cared so much about their job even on her night shifts when she'd come back exhausted. She was especially passionate however about helping grieving mothers who had sadly lost their babies. With the money raised by her friends last September, my brother in law was able to purchase three cold cots, which are special cots that allow families of stillborn babies to spend more time with their baby's body as it can be preserved by keeping the body at a cool temperature. You can read about them here, if you're interested. Those cots were donated to hospitals in New Zealand, which you can read about here.

I know a lot of us who loved Tai didn't want to stop there and so at the start of this year I started to think about also running in her name but having never even finished a 5km run in my life, was very daunted to say the least. But I decided to just go for it, found the Wimbledon Common Half Marathon which is scheduled for the 11th October 2020 (two days before Tai's birthday) and signed up before I could get out of it.

I knew I didn't want to run it alone though so the amazing people in the photo above are those who were nutty enough (lovely enough) to say yes to running it with me. We have all been training and sadly that has had to be socially-distanced style the past couple of months but we're all still getting out there when we can to keep training ready for the half in October.

I ran my first 10km run on Wednesday and I can't tell you how amazing that achievement feels. Before January I genuinely never thought I would run that far in my life so to have done it is the biggest shock and surprise to me! Doing it for Tai is my complete and utter motivation and there have been many times where I went out for a run and truly felt like I couldn't do it, but thinking of her has helped to get me back out again and not to give up like I usually would. It's not easy at all and I've now got to double the distance I can run but I pray that I will get there and I'm trying my very best!

The charity we're running for in Tai's name is Sands, the stillbirth and neonatal death charity. Sands provides support to families who have lost a baby - their helpline is still open even in lockdown and the work that they do is incredible. I know it was a charity close to Tai's heart. There therefore isn't a better charity to run for in Tai's name, and to feel like we're able to carry on her legacy even a little has really helped me when it feels like there is nothing to be done and thinking of her death just brings darkness.

There will probably be some more running content around these parts because of this and I'm keen to share how my training is going and what I'm doing. Mainly because I still can't believe it's happening, but also because I truly believe that if, like me, the only thing holding you back from running is thinking you can't do it and that it will never get easier, you can and it will. I still don't love it but I don't hate it either and the feeling I get after a run is incredible.

I know this is a difficult period for everyone and there are so many important causes out there but if you have even just £2 to donate and would like to do so, you can help here: https://justgiving.com/fundraising/runfortai and it would truly mean the world to me if you did.

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