Yesterday I had such a fun afternoon. I volunteered to help cheer on four amazing fundraisers competing in the 2013 London Triathlon for Bliss.
Back in March I did my own bit of fundraising for the same charity by running my first half marathon. I decided to start running (having been unwell, unfit, depressed and never having run in my life) just weeks after Mr Boo left hospital. It was a mammoth task for me, especially after Boo developed infantile spasms. It was touch and go whether I would be able to do it, but Boo, the cause and the £1500 I raised in sponsorship kept me going. I blogged about it here.
I still find it hard to believe I did it but I have the finisher’s medal to prove it and for 3 months afterwards I had an injury (ITBS) to show for it, caused by having to up the distance too quickly in the last few weeks following Boo’s interruption to my training.
The injury’s gone now and so, to my shame, is my fitness and waistline. My return to work in May has been good for our family bank balance and terrible for my health. I want to get back into running. I can’t say I love running the way serious runners do. Often I can’t bear it, to be frank, but in 30 minutes I can run over 3 miles, clear my head and do something for me that also helps my kids. They need me to be strong. Life is often difficult. Being fit helps. I can really see that now I’m for not.
But running also helped my mental well being. Exercise is not a universal cure for depression and anyone who thinks that telling someone who is depressed that they should go for a jog clearly has no idea what they are talking about. But it has helped me. I tried to get at why this is the case in my Keep on Running post a few months ago but I still can’t quite claim to understand fully. It is partly about turning the difficulties we face into a positive. It’s partly about wanting to do all I can through fundraising to prevent others going through what we have or making it easier for them, by supporting Bliss, if they do. It’s also, largely I think, about acknowledging Boo’s challenges and achievements.
Nothing comes easy for Boo. As you’ll know if you’ve read this blog before, at 13.5 months corrected (16 months actual), Boo can’t roll, sit, crawl or stand. Getting full head control was a major step. Reaching over his head another. Playing with toys in a supported sitting position another minor miracle. We do therapy with him a few times a day every day. We work for months on the same skills. He gets grumpy, frustrated and tired. I distract him and then expect him to keep going. We push him, but miraculously he also pushes himself. He never gives up. And I will never give up on him. When you look at it like that, a half marathon or triathlon is a walk in the park.
Seeing the Bliss participants yesterday and cheering them and others on reminded me of what a resilient, determined, compassionate and optimistic bunch we humans are and how much we can achieve when so much is at stake. I feel reinvigorated to get back into running and, as I’d always planned, I feel compelled to find another fundraising challenge for next year. Watch this space.
Yesterday has also convinced me to do more volunteering of this kind. I had a great time and the Bliss triathletes really seemed to appreciate our whoops, claps and screams. There were only two of us, but we were loud. Others saw the Bliss flag and our clapping sticks and shouted ‘great charity’ as they ran past. Putting the charity on others’ radar is so important. When there was a cloudburst and we got soaked for 10 minutes and other charity supporters ran for cover we stayed out and *we* got clapped and thanked by runners for various charities for being out there to support them.
Not everyone can run a half marathon or compete in a triathlon. But anyone can clap and cheer and, believe me, it can make all the difference as you drag yourself to the finish line. So please consider volunteering to help your favourite charity in this way. And if you fancy doing it for Bliss take a look at this website and maybe I’ll see you there some time. Next time, I’m taking Sissyboo!