Okay, so you remember the whole point of this journey? Su and I shook on doing the London Marathon in 2011. Well, it's a pretty popular marathon - one of the most popular in the world - and places are not that easy to come by.
You have to apply to the ballot to participate - the ballot automatically closes at 125 000 applicants. This year it closed within one day, beating its previous record by two days. Then you have to wait...and wait...and finally in October you hear whether you have a place. For someone who has never attempted this before it is a long time to wait when you want a definite goal.
There is another way. Lots of charities have race places for runners who can guarantee to gain a minimum amount of sponsorship for them. As a safeguard I looked into finding a charity place. Some charities charge you a couple of hundred pounds for running for them which was out of the question for me as someone still repaying student debts. There is also the question of minimum sponsorship; some charities ask for £2500, again quite a staggering amount to raise. In taking a charity place I would feel duty bound to keep raising money until the final target was achieved and £2500 is a sum that is going to take some work.
They say when you decide to run the marathon you should tell everyone to make it real, I had tried to keep it a little quiet - after all surely Su would back out at some point and free me from my solemn oath? Anyway, I chat to my colleague at school, Alice, about most things and the marathon came up. She suggested I try to run for a locally based charity called Aspire. I had heard of Aspire because of some work they had done with our school and because Alice goes to use their pool every Friday evening (they have the only pool in the country with a wheel chair ramp into the pool). Aspire work with people who have spinal injuries; from providing grants for decent wheelchairs (the NHS ones aren't up to much) to finding suitable accomodation so people can actually leave hospital and resume their lives.
I emailed Aspire and a man called Andrew got back to me, he was really friendly and obviously a runner himself as he had lots of advice about the marathon and running generally. He advised me to do a half marathon by Christmas and sent a list of possible races. He also explained that he would need a breakdown of how I would raise the minimum sponsorship of £1750.
In conference with Alice I worked out, with the backing of the school, I could exceed the minimum and I booked in for my first half marathon in Gosport, not too far from my parents. The Gosport course is flat, or so the Gosport Road Runners website informs, and ideal for PB. I was very honest when I put in an estimated completion time of 5 1/2 hours and hope they didn't laugh too much as they banked my £18.
I put together my financial plan and emailed it off to Andrew who was spending the week in the middle of Snowdonia or somewhere for Aspire. This Monday he emailed me and told me I had a place if I wanted it. I was stunned, overjoyed and a little apprehensive if I'm honest.
I plastered my news all over Facebook to make it real and everyone was really supportive. Not one person suggested I was insane. The main thing worrying me was that I had a place and my running buddy Su didn't. She had already approached one charity and then asked me whether it was worth her contacting Aspire.
I checked my phone late morning today; I had a message from Su. She had Andrew about our challenge and he called her right back and offered her a place.
We are both running the 2011 marathon and both running for Aspire. I know together we will get ourselves through it.