It’s a marathon not a sprint 

Three things lead me to writing this morning:

  1. Running the Manchester half marathon on Sunday
  2. Attending an event on campus last night
  3.   The train being late.

1. You get a lot of time to think when you’re running (very steadily) around the mean streets of Trafford and Sale. It’s astonishing how much my brain processes stuff and settles into a response mode when I’m forced to concentrate on just putting one foot in front of the other. I spent the 13.1 miles (actually a little more because I nipped off course to use the facilities in a pub (much better than queuing for the on course loos)) chatting with John who runs Manchester Taxi Tours. (Check them out if you’re visiting or new to the area; fabulous way to learn about the city).

We’ve approached races in this way before; let’s enjoy it and get round; it’s not about pace or PBs, it’s about finishing and having fun. It’s about not getting DNF against the results. It’s about the bling and the t-shirt!

You can see where I’m going with this can’t you? My brain was assimilating this attitude and sentiment as my second toenail (right foot) was getting more and more bruised and my knees were screaming at me to “lose some fecking weight old woman (if you’re not going to do it for us do it for the race photos)”. It was (almost literally) with my weight slamming forcefully into the tarmac of the roads that I felt a tiny mindset shift – it really is all about finishing AND getting the t-shirt and the bling (in this case the gown, mortar board and degree). A weight has been lifted (from my shoulders not my knees – you can’t have everything) since Sunday. My second toenail (right foot) is blue but I’m not.

2. Honest reality is what people want when they’re making decisions. Forget unicorns and rainbows, tell me what it’s really like. I’m still learning that, at 53, I can only be me. I’m happiest when I’m being my version of me. That might not be your version or their version or his version or her version but it’s MY version. It’s  (oh feck I’ve lost the word), you know, honest, real. It’s my reality which might not be yours but is closer than some pimped up sales version. I’m unique (we all are) but the way I experience stuff is closer to your experiences than an advertisement version.

This thing at uni last night was about developing real experiences to become web content in order to tell the stories of real people going to university for the first time; being an overseas student; being a mature student; having a baby and being a student; working full time and studying; and/or being an old woman at school.

This one is perhaps less obvious but it made me think about why I’m writing this blog and am I honest enough about just how bloody hard it is to fit everything in (that’s not hard it’s fucking imposdible); how each day is a mangled mess of compromise and I never feel like I’m being good enough at anything (hey old woman re-read point 1). So why am I doing it?

That’s an excellent question but do you mean the blog or the course? I’m writing the blog because tomorrow I won’t know how I felt today and when I finish the course I won’t remember the steps I’ve travelled.

I’m studying and taking the courses because I want to create opportunities and take new challenges and, honestly, to see how far I can go when DNF is not an option. I hope that you, dear reader, will enjoy the journey with me but if there are no “dear readers” and I’m writing for me alone, I can, in time, learn again about the hard tarmac beneath my bruised toes and celebrate each magnificent step because I did it.

3. Well the train was late and I had answered all my emails and read the paperwork so I had the gift of time. Even the disagreeable can be a positive opportunity (you can vomit now if you like).

Arrived in Sheffield and the driver will run to the other end and pull the train in the opposite direction onwards to Nottingham – I’ll leave the station forwards after entering backwards. I remember how discombobulating that was the first time I took this journey. Go forwards or backwards but don’t DNF.

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