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  • Writer's pictureMike Douglas

My Silly Silly Idea

Updated: Jan 21, 2023

Last weekend I attended the Great South Run to cheer on the runners and take a few photos. As I grabbed a breakfast sandwich near the train station I spotted the outline of a human I thought could be my old buddy Phil, but I wasn't too sure, until he turned around. We chatted and walked, making our way to Southsea. It was ace to hear about Phil's fundraising for Alzheimer's Society and his previous experiences of the run. It gave me the opportunity to reminisce about some of my previous entries into the Great South Run event, having completed it five times before.

We parted ways once we arrived at the start point, Phil went off to the bag drop and I visited the stalls and started to take photos.

I was a bit envious of Phil and the other runners who were taking part. I do miss the running experience (my involvement has dropped a lot this year) and once I was there, near the start line, I missed being part of the event as a runner.

That said, I was also glad that I wasn't taking part because I am not as fit as I used to be. Flashback to 2015 Mike, he was kinda hot and way more athletic.

Flash-forward the the properly 16+ stone me, (and while theres nothing wrong with that) yer, thats not where I want to be. I want to be more 2015 me (just in the body department. If you think I'm mentally wobbly now, hahaha, you should have seen my head then). Anyway, I am walking around taking photos and I saw someone I didn't want to see. Fortunately they didn't see me, so no eye to eye or awkwardness. Plus we both had sunglasses on so that was handy. It annoyed me that I felt something, I felt annoyance, I felt blame and for the first time, I felt that directed at them and not 100% me. Maybe it was a moment I needed. I'm not exactly sure what it meant to me, but it meant something. On the day this got to be a bit, but now. Now I'm kinda glad it happened, it was going to happen at some stage and now its done.

So I moved round the course and took a few more photos, a couple I really like. It's ace to find some shots that you really connect with. Thats the thing I love about photography. Finding those moments and the images that stand out. Sure I have taken plenty of plants, crowds and landscapes. But those odd moments, when the light is perfect, or a face reveals hidden emotion, or an image appears/ happens that means more than it should. Those are beautiful moments.

With this more positive mindset I made my way to the final part of the run. I took a few less amazing photos here, hahaha. But I did here mention that this was the 29th Great South Run and next year would be the 30th. I consider this one of a number of triggers, I am a sucker for things like this. Another one may have been Phil and the voice on the speakers informing me that there was a £10 saving, if you registered for the 2019 event that afternoon.

As the event started to have more finishers than runners I wrapped up my photo taking and cheer shouting to make my way back to the car. At this point I was thinking it had been great to go along, take photos and cheer on the runners. But... but, I had missed out by not taking part and next year would be the 30th GSR... but I have done the event 5 times. I don't need to do it again. But, like Phil, I could again do it for charity... but I'm fat and can't run that far or that fast anymore... but it's a year away and I could work back up to it. But would I?

I decided it wasn't to be. Maybe though... What about if I made it a bigger, longer challenge. So it didn't feel like such a one off I could delay and negate. Maybe I could challenge myself to 100 miles for the year. That would be a good goal. I worked it out on the way to the car. After walking for 45 minutes I decided it was maybe too achievable. Not a goal worth trying for.

I drove to see Laura for an early dinner at 3pm. The thoughts of running still in my mind. At Laura's I remembered we had previous spoken about taking part in a virtual running event. So I looked online for something around doing 100 or maybe 200 miles. 200 is a lot, crap, 100 seemed a lot an hour ago! I had only said it was achievable to put myself off.

There wasn't anything for 200 miles in a year. But, there was a 500k in a year, which is 310.5 miles. Now that seemed like a challenge.

To be clear here, this year, so far I have run less than 33 miles, and its the end of October! So this would be a rather large jump to make. Importantly though, I it's one I want to and one I (foolishly) think I could do. I did have to stop myself looking at the 100k challenge. That really would be idiotic.

So, a couple of hours later, I signed up for the 500k in a year with Virtual Runner UK. I am such a fool.

I have also found my nearest Park Run, in Havant and registered for the 2019 Great South Run (which started this stupid idea). I am registered for RED (Run Every Day) January with Mind. I am also intending to run the Hayling Billy 5 with HEH Mind again next year. I am going to need to have a few events throughout the year to keep me going, so any event suggestions are welcome. Because, I will get bored of Havant Thicket and I need to cover the equivalent of almost a mile a day. Plus, and this is a big plus. I am not intending on counting walking. So lunchtime walks in the park will not count. It has to be running.

I have set up a fundraising page where I will post updates on the miles completed, because I need to keep a record somewhere and a public space seems like it would hold me to account. Eck.

The funds I raise will be split between my local Mind and national Mind.

This is a personal challenge, yes its physical but its about a lot more. As you guys know I have struggled with my mental health for a few years now and there continues to be ups and downs. In fact I'm seeing the doctor next week for a medication review. My physical health has taken a drop in the last 18 months, maybe 24. That maybe partly because: I have had to focus on my mental health, I've been tired from the stresses that have come with that, I lost value in myself and my self worth, I haven't tried or wanted to try harder, and I am sure for many more reasons.

However, good things have happened too. I became happier with myself, I enjoyed being single. So of course then I ended up with a girlfriend, hahaha. I have found love again. I have found a companion who I can talk to openly and honestly, and someone who understands (more than I give her credit for). I have built on the relationships I have started online and met some awesome people. I have been part of campaigns and herd moving speeches. I have challenged myself to be more honest with... myself.

I am not where I want to be, but I am also not at the start. There will be shit days ahead and adding this physical challenge to my life will, if nothing else, give me some great metaphors to use in future.

I hope it will provide me with a way to incorporate more mindfulness in my life, and achieve some of the physical fitness I am lacking and want to regain. I hope it helps make me more happy, or more able to accept the happiness I already have in my life.

If I raise a bit of money too that would be cool, I guess.

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