Close, but still far away

Last week I passed my fundraising target for the Bhopal medical appeal. First of all a big thanks to everyone who has sponsored me, and thanks in advance to anyone who plans to sponsor me. I’m especially privileged because I passed my fundraising target over a month before the event itself which, on the one hand, means that the pressure to meet my target has eased a little. But on the other hand it means that there is still scope to make even more money for the charity than I’d hoped. To sum up in two seemingly mutually exclusive cliches: “the hard work is over” but “the real work is just beginning”.

While they are expressional opposites both are entirely valid summaries of how I feel right now with regard to marathon training and to fundraising. As I passed my fundraising target I also had to run in a half marathon, my first proper “race” in over a year and a valuable, necessary experience for anyone running a marathon (always test yourself in timed races over shorter distances as preparation, just to acclimatise yourself to the experience of running in crowds on properly supervised courses). I did “ok” in my time but I didn’t excel, partly because it felt as much like another training run as a proper race. On Sunday I ran 18 miles, which means I’m closing in on my target distance before tapering begins. In February I spent over 18 hours running 122 miles (thankfully not in one go). The end is definitely coming into sight, but there is plenty more to do.

I still have to find the time to fit in 2 runs of 20 miles or more in the next three weeks and my March totals “should” comfortably exceed those achieved in February (not just because it’s a longer month either). Then, even as I start tapering my distance I’ll probably have to devote some time to building up my core strength and middle distance running in order to up my pace. Both these areas have been neglected in my training program so far, largely because I still want to enjoy a social and family life without giving myself over completely to running (but secretly also because I find doing things like weights and interval training to be both boring and exhausting).

Then there’s the marathon itself. While I’m excited about it I’m also fully aware from past experience that it’s not going to be easy, no marathon ever is. I’ve trained harder so far than I have for previous marathons, but I’m also getting older and anything could go wrong between now and the end of the race, whether it’s an illness, an injury (I’m rather stupidly continuing to play football while training), accumulated fatigue or a just bad night’s sleep.

I’m trying not to think beyond London on April 23rd. For me that’s when I’ll know two things. First that I can complete a major, globally recognised marathon (hopefully with a half decent time) and second I’ll know how much I’ve finally managed to raise for the Bhopal Medical Appeal. But there are things that need to be thought about beyond the marathon. First of all I’m still on a running streak 77 days and counting. Maybe I’ll even get to a magic 365! Then there’s my next marathon, in Birmingham, the city of my birth, in October. Somehow I’ll need to pick myself up and start again for that.

There are things that need thinking about for the Bhopal Medical Appeal too. I’m pleased to have exceeded my target with so much time to go and hope there is more to come, but realistically if I exceeded my target 100,000 times over it would not come close to healing the damage that was done on that December night over 30 years ago.

In 1989 Union Carbide settled the Bhopal Case in with an agreed payment of US$470m even at the time this was seen as vastly below what was needed. Subsequent valuations of the work that is needed to be done have run into many billions of dollars, not only to compensate for the ongoing suffering endured by the Bhopal community but also to clean up the site and mitigate the devastation that continues to be wrought on the environment there. Any funds I raise will hopefully have some small impact but all I can hope for is that there is strength in numbers and that I’m one of thousands of runners who have the privilege to run London and other marathons or events for this charity.

You can sponsor me in the London marathon here

You can track my runs here