I've been sitting here staring at the screen for the last half an hour, struggling with how to start...
I've been gearing myself up for St. Anne's Hospice's Midnight Walk which was last night. I raised £128 in sponsorship and was so freaking ready to take on the 10 mile walk. After I got home from work, I had a shower while Jay made pasta for dinner (for the slow-release energy). I dressed in layers, packed a light back and filled my iPod. As ready as I was ever going to be, we headed off to Newport Stadium where the walk was going to begin.
I was pretty nervous as I got my official number and was sent to wait out the hour before the walk started. It felt like I was the only person there who was there alone. Finally, I found an older woman who appeared to be alone as well. I tried to make small talk with her but she was curt and didn't appear to be interested. I cracked a few jokes - she didn't crack a smile once. So I wandered around a bit more. Everyone was there in their little cliques, laughing and having a good time. There was one woman there, about my age and about my weight, dress (believe it or not) as a Dalek. Finally... The type of person I wanted to hang out with! But she was listening to her iPod and didn't look like she wanted company.
(I was happy to see someone like her there. I thought it meant that I stood a chance, you know? But when the walk started she flew ahead and was in the front half of the column in no time.)
My attempts at finding a walking buddy weren't going well but it didn't really matter since they called us all together then to stretch, ready for the walk. Well, I say stretch... What I mean is a full-on-fucking-work-out. What the hell is up with a twenty minute work out before a ten mile walk? Since when does that make sense? Needless to say, my attempt was rather half-hearted - and I wasn't the only one! There was no break between the work out and the start of the walk, either. We set off immediately.
It was pretty clear, even before we made it out of the stadium, that I wasn't going to be able to keep up with the pack. I was at the very back as soon as it started and lagged farther and farther behind as we went along. By the end of the first mile, I'd lost sight of the rest of the walkers. Not that I was bothered... It wasn't about me keeping up, it was about me finishing. (Or so I thought.)
The first mile was the worst - partly because I suffer from shin splints. Frequently and badly. It's happened since marching band (shut up) and I don't even think about it any more, it's so common. Most of the time, if I just lay off a little bit and go slow for a little while, it eases up and I can carry on - kind of hard to do when you have two security officers ("marshalls") riding your ass.
The two security officers were meant to take up the rear of the column. In this case, that meant me. You could tell that they weren't too happy about it too. Eventually, they gave up trying to stay behind me and walked a block or so ahead. I was fine with that because I felt like having them on my heels was forcing me to go faster than was comfortable, making my shin splints worse.
By the second mile, my left leg was almost numb from the pain. But I didn't quit.
The time between the second mile and the third mile was the best. The pain was easing off, I was enjoying my music, and my speed was picking up. I finally started to think that I could do it - and in a decent time too! The only annoying part was the marshalls who kept stopping every few minutes and asking if I was alright. I wanted to say "I will be if you leave me the fuck alone and let me do this thing." But I didn't. I smiled and tried to crack jokes. And I kept going.
At a quarter past one, I had made it past the first three miles and stopped at the first toilet point. I had already abandoned my hat and my hoodie and I thought it was about time I lost my sweat pants too. (I was wearing leggings underneath.) So I stripped off, splashed some cold water on my face and went outside to carry on. Except I didn't.
The two marshalls approached me. The older of the two was quite brusque. "Listen, love," he started, "I've been doing this for five years and I'm telling you right now you ain't gonna make it. We have to be clear of this course in five hours, you know." Talk about being shocked speechless! I looked to the younger marshall for help but he just shook his head and said that I was three miles behind the rest of the group and that I was a health and safety risk and that they couldn't let me continue.
What could I do? I just plastered a big smile on my face and said "Oh. Ok." and followed them to the bus that they had called to collect me. It felt like an ambush. I was trying so hard not to cry when I called Jay and asked him to pick me up. Luckily, no one tried to talk to me on the way back but the second I stepped out of the bus at the stadium, a guy grabbed me and hugged me and told me how proud he was that I had tried. That was when I started crying.
I really just wanted to be left alone but the good people of St. Anne's wouldn't allow that. One woman took me as her personal charity case and stayed with me until Jay arrived. She was nice and really supportive but I really didn't want to have anyone making small talk at me while I cried. I just wanted to get away. Even with everything that has happened between Jay and me lately, when he picked me up he gave me a big hug and told me not to beat myself up over it because I had tried. That's what everyone kept saying: At least I had tried.
I wanted to scream.
Yes, I had tried - but I would have fucking done it if they had just left me alone! They decided I couldn't do it, not me! They looked at me and deemed me a failure without ever giving me the chance to fail. It was a soul destroying moment that will haunt me for the rest of my life.
To say that I was inconsolable is an understatement. When we got home, Jay made me a cup of coffee and gave me a big hug but nothing he could say or do could make me stop crying; the shame I felt was too great. I went to bed and cried until I fell asleep.
Jay tells me that I should use it as motivation to be that much better
for next year and blow them all away. But how can I? How can I ever ask
anyone to sponsor me again when all they'll see when they look at me is
a failure? I'm already thinking that I will have to find a way to pay
everyone back the money they donated and there's no way in hell I will
ask anyone who didn't already pay to give their sponsorship money. I
don't deserve it.