An Amazing Inspiration

Ian Somerhalder Foundation

It was here, the weekend I had been training relentlessly for, for over a year. Tomorrow I was to run the Brighton Midnight Half Marathon. Quite what possessed me to choose a night run I do not know, but then, what sane person wants to runs 13.1 miles anyway? I devised a plan to stay awake all night and rest throughout the day on the basis that I would then have the correct energy levels going into the run. I managed to keep my bleary eyes open through to 7am when Facebook, Twitter and YouTube held no more appeal. I set my alarm for 5pm and lay my head down to rest.
At 1pm my natural body clock woke me up and after half an hour of uselessly telling myself I could go back to sleep I chastised myself for having such a failed plan and got myself up out of bed to ponder on the fact that I would be running on six hours sleep. I made myself a hearty running meal comprising of pasta, chicken and vegetables at around 6pm and then spent the remaining time mentally psyching myself up for the unknown.
I was very blessed to have my parents and brother come along for the journey with me. We all bundled into my car and arrived in a very cold Brighton at 10:30pm.  I signed myself in, attached my running chip to my trainer, firmly fixed my head torch to my beanie hat and started to warm up. Looking around, it seemed I was one of the younger runners and clearly less experienced judging from the specialised clothing everybody was wearing. Nonetheless I put my earphones in and waited for the run to begin.
The start of the run consisted of a nice easy stretch from halfway up the beach to the pier at the top. I found myself concentrating on my breathing trying to get into a pattern and zoning out to the beat of the music. Three miles passed in almost rhythmic fashion. I was so used to running three miles as a minimum training run that it hardly registered. However, as well signposted as it was, I still managed to run off course and had to backtrack to find the course signs!
Mile five took me to a hill approximately 1 and half miles long! I am not ashamed to say I had to have a breather now and again for that one. Mile seven hit me with a slope consisting of loose rocks and pebbles outlined with trees either side. Needless to say I was thankful for the head torch but it did hamper my running as I cautiously climbed up to the top. Mile eight saw me flowing again until I missed the slope UP the bank to the path and carried on running through mud straight into a stream (easily done in the dark!) I berated myself for all of ten minutes and then, sodden trainers and socks at the back of my mind I ploughed on. It was roughly around this time that I realised there was just me. Runners had been passing me throughout the run but the stream had died down and it was quite daunting running an unknown route, a girl alone, along deserted streets and unlit country roads.
At mile 10 I realised I was now running ahead of a girl that had passed me a few times. She would overtake and then I would in a seemingly cat and mouse type fashion. It was comforting to look behind and see her still there as I began to question whether I was running the right way. The front of my right leg had begun to feel quite tight and each step seemed to set about a shooting pain. I began to feel like I had reached the wall. Doubts crept in about whether I would make the end and a few tears were shed. Just before I reached the 11th mile marker I asked some volunteers at a water station how far I had to go, barely keeping myself from breaking down. They told me it was literally down the road and then I was on the seafront. I knew the seafront meant the end and sheer determination spurred me on to only two miles to go. Damned if I wasn’t going to make it having run just run 11 miles.
Reaching mile 12 was amazing! I began to finally think the end is in sight. My leg was screaming and I had to embrace a run-walk technique but I was feeling as positive as I could. I cannot describe to you how long that last mile was. The mind can do funny things to you when you are at your limit and what I thought must have been a mile was possibly only a quarter of a mile. It was during the long mile as I like to recall it that I looked out at the expanse of sea to my right and I questioned my reasoning. I re-lived my first meeting with Ian. I remembered the way he talked about the IS Foundation, the compassion and sheer honesty in his face when he talked about his ideas for the world and its creatures. I remembered the support ISF had given me, in particular Kim. I had previously been training for a full marathon, but due to injury had to pull out at the last minute and start from scratch. The emotional frustration that I had felt was immense. Kim never wrote me off as a failure after my injury, she encouraged and supported me. I remembered my ISF family, many of whom I will never get to meet but who took time to send me daily tweets of encouragement as I slogged it at another training session and who donated their money believing in me. My friends and family for their unwavering support through the months when I was too busy training to be sociable. It was YOU! You were the entire last mile for me. You got me through!
I saw the end coming upon me, I took out my earphones, I listened to my laboured breathing and I saw my family waiting for me at the end. I cried my eyes out as I ran to them having run for three hours in freezing wet conditions. Wrapping a foil blanket around me and collecting my medal you would have thought I had just won the lottery. I had done it! I hobbled back to cheer my girl behind me over the line and it was complete! I walked in a frozen daze back to the car where it must have taken me twenty minutes of warm air to feel my hands again.
That’s my story. I achieved something I never thought I would be able to do because ISF has inspired me. It’s created a family willing to try and make a positive impact on the world. I am proud to be a part of this family and I look forward (really?) to starting my training for the full marathon. I truly wish I could tell you how much you pulled me through with your support but I hope the pictures of me with my medal are enough.
I am literally blown away by the amount we have raised on crowdrise! I will continue to strive towards the goal because the work of ISF is truly inspiring and I hope you will continue to also.

Sandra xx