2 medals in 2 weeks

9 October 2015

Some weekends are quiet. Some are busy. My last two weekends have been something else.

It's fair to say that my body has taken quite a battering in these two weeks. A fractured wrist, cracked ribs, two mega infections, damaged tissue in my foot and cuts and bruises the size of my head all over my body.

I'm still finding the words when it comes to my recent achievements. This year, I have been focusing on state of mind. It's about telling yourself you can do something, even when you think you can't. It's about believing in yourself when others don't. It's about trusting your instincts, even if it's scary. And more than anything, it's about getting your head in the game. Clearing your mind of everything and focusing on the task ahead, whatever it may be.

Having a bit of fear is good. It's healthy I think. Having that something giving us an adrenaline rush and tests us is only going to make us stronger. I live for that feeling. Hell, I get a wave of fear every time I add a tiny bit more weight onto the barbell when trying to PB my snatch, or when I push myself to run that extra half a mile, even though my body feels like it's going to keel over. These are good feelings, and knowing you've smashed through the fear is a feeling I will always enjoy.

Climbing over the last 10ft wall before jumping the fire at the end of Spartan was one of the most incredible experiences of my life. Spartan had always been something I wanted to do, and being a member of the crew made me want it even more. You have to be physically fit to do Spartan. It promotes fitness and strength, and without those, you won't succeed. Fortunately, being the gym bunny I am, I was in good stead. It was hard. Very hard. I was soaked through from swimming through multiple freezing cold lakes and rivers, had more mud on and in my body than you would believe is possible and a completely battered torso. As soon as I had landed on the floor and saw the finish line, I felt the tears bubble up. 'You've achieved what you set out to do, and you smashed it Tamsin.' I had run the race on my own, not knowing anyone, and finished with people I'd met along the way who had started calling me 'the little 5ft feisty one who won't stop laughing and singing'. That was my tactic. Laugh, sing, spur people on and focus. And that's what I did.

A grown man slipped at one point, fell and landed on me, and even though I didn't realise at the time, actually fractured my left wrist and cracked a rib. At the time, I just said 'you ok mate? I got you!' and started helping him back up. Because that's what this race is about. Togetherness. It didn't stop me finishing.

2 weeks later, and I'm at the start line of the Bournemouth Half Marathon, with that fearful feeling and wanting to get the job done. Running, as you know, is an ongoing challenge for me with the London Marathon being the goal in April. I don't remember much of this race if I'm honest. It's all blurred in my memory. I won't lie - if I hadn't had a fractured wrist and a battered body, I probably would have been more hyped about the race, although a friend of mine saw me at the start line and said I was jumping up and down excitedly so maybe I was subconsciously looking forward to it.

4.5 miles into the half marathon, I lost all feeling in my right foot. I burst into tears, as I'm not one to be defeated, but at the time, I thought maybe I wouldn't be able to do it. I had my phone on me so rang my parents who were obviously quite surprised that I had called them. My dad quickly told me that I can do anything I want to do and they were waiting for me along the course. I couldn't get the feeling in my right foot back whatever I did, so in a last effort, I took off my compression socks and ran with them in my hands wondering if that would help. It didn't. Knowing full well I would gain some blisters, I tried to take it a mile at a time with a completely numb right foot. At mile 8, the Red Cross pulled me into first aid to check my foot out because they could see I was crying. They asked if I wanted to pull out.

'What? Are you having a laugh?' 

I put my socks back on and tried to make up some major lost time from being stopped by first aid. At mile 9, I saw my parents waiting for me. I burst into tears and explained I still couldn't feel my right foot but I needed to finish. My dad then said 'Well I will run the last few miles with you. It's a free country and they can't stop me.' Before I knew it, my dad was running along Bournemouth Beach with me, acting as a coach. 'Run 4 more lamp posts. And now another 4. And another 4.' I still couldn't feel my foot but I was carrying on with my dad next to me.

When I got to Bournemouth Pier, they wouldn't let my dad run any further. I just remember him shouting 'you've got this Tamsin. You've never let anything or anyone stop you. OFF YOU GO.' Running around Bournemouth Pier, I was mainly just glad that it would be over shortly. I passed people cheering and suddenly I saw the finish. I spotted my mum in the crowd but didn't make eye contact with her. I only wanted eye contact with the finish line.

Without me even realising, I managed to make my body sprint the last 200 metres. It felt like the fastest I've ever run and I just wanted to get over the finish line. I remember people cheering and I heard the commentator shout my name. I then saw my housemate and friends at the finish jumping up and down in support. And then I saw my dad waiting for me.

I crossed the finish line and burst into hysterical tears. What the hell had just happened? Had I really just run 9 miles with a completely numb foot? I took off my trainers and walked round with my dad to get my medal, sobbing and sobbing. I couldn't help but feel disappointed. When you train for something and it doesn't go to plan, it is massively gutting. But as soon as they put the medal round my neck, I realised that I'd still completed a half marathon. There will be many more half marathons before the London Marathon, and every half marathon from now will be quicker, so I shouldn't be disappointed at all. I swiftly drank a bottle of champagne with my family as we waited for my numb foot to return to normality.

Apparently, tissue damage was the culprit to my numb foot. This will get better, as will my fractured wrist, ribs, infection and the cuts and bruises. They're just temporary details. Having had time to think about what I achieved in two weeks, I'm quite overwhelmed. I knew I was a strong person, physically and mentally, but I managed to get through challenges that are meant to test us in every way.

My mum said to me after I finished the half marathon, 'All you wanted to be when you were growing up was a fighter. You wanted to be a Gladiator. You never wanted to be beaten. And look at you now. You were not beaten. You are a Gladiator.'

I'm already getting ready for my next OCR challenges and half marathons. This is just the beginning.

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  1. Oh my gosh Tamsin, I am the least sporty person ever (if it isn't skiing, I'm not interested) but I welled up reading this! Especially the bit where your dad ran alongside you! You should definitely be proud of what you've accomplished :) xx

  2. You are SO inspirational, you're amazinggggg!

    Sophie x

  3. Ooh this made me get all teary! Especially the wonderful support from your mum and dad- love that your dad joined the race to help you! Bless him. Huge congrats on both of your medals- the first of many I'm sure!

    Daisy X

  4. *Gulp* This choked me up a little. Well done! Especially under the circumstances! Better than I could ever do! x

  5. Lovely post. Amazing photos from your Spartan event, and what a fantastic Dad you have! Hard core!

  6. Hi hi hi, only just started on your blog, and this is the first post I read...you seem like a mental head! In the best way possible of course! The Spartan course and marathon with a numb foot sounds hardcore, I wouldn't have been gone as soon as it went numb! Seriously inspiring xxxx

    Jesska - Opal Soul


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