My visit to my doctor.
On race day, myself and my Younger, Melanie, lined up at the start line, and another Younger, Amani, decided to join us. This was going to be interesting. By the time the race started at 9am, it was already about 17 degrees.
We were in for a hot one. I chose the latter. We got through the first 10K without stopping, which was a big deal for Mel. At this point, the heat was pretty searing.
No water was a considerable problem. We pushed through to mile 8 and this is where the wheels started to come off a little bit for Mel. I could see she was struggling and her motivation was slipping.
Thankfully, as Run Dem Crew now totals roughly 17, members slight exaggerationour runners were popping up all over the place. Another group of our girls ran with us for a bit, we were all smiles, laughs and dancing. One member of our crew ran into a corner shop to buy us water.
The people of Hackney were absolute legends, standing outside their houses and literally hosing us down. From about mile 9. She was exhausted now and was really battling through. We ran through our cheer crew as they egged us on with raucous cheers, music and confetti cannons.
It was like a six second carnival. I could see Mel was visibly lifted, she picked up her pace a little. The last three miles — always the toughest of a half marathon, I find. I put my arm around her and reminded her she can totally do this.
Whatever pain she was in now, she had to push it to the back of her mind, grit her teeth and fight through it for three miles.
She breathed heavy and nodded, a new determination glimmering in her eyes. I set us new, smaller goals — get to the top of this hill, or push to that landmark and we can have a walk break. Our cheer crew was coming up again at mile 12, so I knew that would give her another boost.
As we approached our cheerers, I ran slightly behind Mel and pointed at her frantically so the crew would know she needed all their energy. They did not disappoint.
Their cheers almost deafened us. For those few moments, we were lifted on a wave of unbelievable love and support from the people we know want us to win the most.
In the last mile, both Mel and Amani were flagging. The finish is so close, yet so far. I was determined for my girls to finish strong. Exhausted, they could barely keep running at this point. That seemed to be all they needed to hear. I could tell it was hurting with every step for both of them now.
I could see it in the distance and as we rounded the corner, with the finish line about meters ahead, I pushed the pace and Mel and Amani hung right in there with me for that sprint finish. Mel had apologised throughout for being slow. While Mel may not be able to talk while running yet, I felt she told a whole story through sweat and footsteps on Sunday.
Sometimes you have to be there just to listen to the silence. I care about the steely determination they both showed, about their refusal to give up, their grit, the way they supported others on the course though they were struggling themselves and what this all means in the broader context of their lives.
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