Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Life of the Cliff Edge - Part 2 A Thank You

I wonder almost every minute of every day how this ridiculous journey is possible.

The answer is clear. I am surrounded a great 'cloud of witnesses': so many people who are cheering me on to victory. I'm afraid I often whinge No!, Leave me behind! Let me stop!!! For you runners out there, it's that bit where you ask yourself 'why am I putting myself through this?' 

You people are the ones carrying me, pushing and shoving me, dragging me along, cheering and encouraging and believing in me. When I would prefer to hide under a duvet and make life go away, there are all these crazy fools who keep yelling at me to keep putting one foot in front of the other. :-)

Thank you, you crazy fun inspiring helpful lot x

To win the prize
I raced a 5k with a beautiful young lady the other day – it was her very first race, and she hadn't ever run that far before. But watching her made me think about the process we all go through to win that b***** medal, to gain that prize.

She was dead excited at the start, and very nervous. Lovely evening, gorgeous setting, plenty of supporters at the start line. You know what it’s like though – once you’re past the start line, all of sudden there are fewer spectators and very quickly it can all seem like a bit too much effort. I think her words at 1000m were ‘this was a really bad idea’. Totally know how she feels.

Then came the hills. Lots of them. Unexpected. And every time I told her I thought this must be the last one (surely!!!) there was another, even higher! She struggled, of course, we all did.

The best bit though was when we came out through a gap in the woods and saw the crowd again, and in their midst, the finish line. She totally went for it. I screamed at the top of my lungs “Go go go!, dig in, don’t stop till you’re past the line.!”, and she went went went, she dug in, and she smashed it over that line. Smiles. So proud to win that medal. 

Well it’s the same for me. Every time I want to give up Running from Suicide (or however I end up phrasing that), there are so so many who cheer me on. In fact I’d go so far as to say that I’m putting in very little effort myself, you are the ones carrying me through this particular race. I know this is true. I’m being carried along.

Please watch this 18 second video. It’s James Boardman and Jemima Hilton-Berry of BSF at the Bexhill 5k race last Wednesday evening carrying Katy through her race. I don’t know Katy, but I think she has MS? (someone correct me if I’m wrong), but she’s carried and cheered on by a great 'cloud of witnesses'. There's no better picture of the way things are. 

(copy and paste this link if the vid doesn't work)

“Greatly encourage the stragglers, and reach out for the exhausted, pulling them to their feet. Be patient with each person, attentive to individual needs” from the Bible.

Sounds like an extract from a running group leader's manual to me :-)

Come and run with me, it might just change your life. 

Monday, 30 May 2016

Life on the Cliff Edge - Part 1 An update

I met an old friend this week who asked “How’s life Jack, how are you doing?”. The easy answer is ‘fine thanks. You?’
The truth is more like this : - “It’s going spectacularly well, and also spectacularly badly”. Life on the cliff edge, that’s me, living life at the height of the cliff, but always with my feet dangling over the edge.

It’s been a year now since I raced the Out of the Blue event at Ashburnham Place that kicked this whole ‘running from suicide’ thing into action, and since then, things have exploded beyond my wildest imaginings.

In the last few weeks alone ……

·       I’ve run faster than ever before, setting a personal best at the London Marathon in 3h17.
·         I’ve also run further than ever before, running my first ultra event yesterday and coming 9th overall out of 151 at the Weald Challenge 50k. Incredible race, and by far the most beautiful to date.
·         I’ve been coached by Liz Yelling, double Olympian marathon runner when she came down to Bexhill with Body Shock Fitness to take a Saturday morning session.
·         There are 39 runners aged between 12 and 76 coming along to the Hastings Tuesday evening session, another 30+ who’ve expressed an interest in the new Monday group, plus 14 who come along Saturday mornings to the Sidley group
·         I’ve joined a couple of runners for their very first 5k race, cheering them on as best as I could, and may I just say, those girls can sprint – way to finish strong!
·         I’ve completed the first weekend of running Coach training with England up in Carshalton (THAT was intense!)
·         I’ve spend 5 hours up on Beachy Head with the Beachy Head Chaplaincy Team (BHCT), observing a shift as the team live their lives on the literal cliff edge, talking and loving people back from the edge.

The cliff edge.
For me, the cliff edge is quite literally ‘holy ground’. It’s terrifying and overwhelming in ways I can’t possibly express here. And yet, there is no place I’d rather be. I visit the white cliffs of Beachy Head almost every week now, and it is without doubt now my favourite place in the world. I can see it from the end of my road too. The cliff edge. It’s where I belong. It’s where life meets death, and it’s where I want to be so that I can pray, run, whatever it takes….

Fields of Life
The day I went up with the BHCT for the first time, someone sent me this. This person didn’t know anything about my visit to the Cliff Edge, making it all the more poignant that she sent it that Friday.
“God, You did everything you promised, and I’m thanking you with all my heart. You pulled me back from the cliff edge of doom. Now I stroll at leisure with God in the sunlit fields of life.”

Come and run with me, it might just change your life

Sunday, 1 May 2016

Out of the Blue

A slightly different sort of post today....
I am proud to be supporting the Out of the Blue race on Thursday 12th May at Ashburnham Place by sporting one of these lovely boards sponsored by Wyatt Hughes. 

Out Of The Blue is a fundraising body established in memory of Will Beckett who took his own life at Beachy Head in January 2013, at the age of 42. This tragedy came as an incredible shock for his family and friends – it came simply ‘Out Of The Blue’. 

Running the Race
I'm also running the 5k race on the evening of Thursday 12th May - how great would it be if loads of the Walk2Run Tuesday and Saturday groups came along? It's a super-friendly race in a beautiful setting. Let me know if you're interested in running or just coming along to watch and cheer. Both are needed!

The work of Out of the Blue
“In the immediate aftermath of Will’s death, our family was supported, guided and inspired by three charities – Winston’s Wish, Dragonflies and The Beachy Head Chaplaincy Team. Out Of The Blue raises money to support these charities so they can help others like us.

Winston’s Wish provided invaluable advice in the first few days after Will’s death on how to explain the death to our young sons – Tom and Joe. All of Will’s family have benefitted from the information and booklets provided by Winston’s Wish. We feel incredibly grateful to them for their practical advice and compassionate support. Their specific knowledge of dealing with suicide and other violent deaths has been incredibly important for us. They continue to provide counselling to the boys and me - with great compassion and expertise.

Dragonflies, our local child bereavement charity, have shown great support to the family. Tom and Joe have attended support group sessions and an activity weekend alongside other bereaved children. In a group setting the boys have talked about their dad. They have been able to realise that they are not alone in their grief and that they are able to recognise and accept their different emotions.

Beachy Head Chaplaincy Team The third charity we support is the Beachy Head Chaplaincy Team. Not only did they support a group of us when our search for Will ended at Beachy Head on that January day, but the work they do is truly humbling when it comes to human duty. We have witnessed first hand the work they do to encourage desperate and broken individuals not to end their lives. The service is staffed by volunteers and relies on donations to help them provide the service they do. 

Helping to prevent further suicides at Beachy Head would be a hugely positive legacy of Will’s death.

Come and run with me, it might just save a life.