Maybe it was the fact that I’d been awake for over 24 hours, or that every inch of my lower half was screaming in pain, or even that I was texting my mum (who’s home, on the other side of the world, sometimes feels simply too far away). But when I crossed the finish line of Shine Night Walk* on Sunday morning I struggled not to cry. And not the crying that people do when they’re really happy. Tears of disappointment.
It had been a really long night, and it was the first time I’d been in a race (well, it was a race in my head) where I didn’t get even close to the finish time I was after.
Honestly, I’m still kind of bitter about it.
The last four excruciating miles of that 26.2 mile walk were fraught with cramping thighs, nausea and exhaustion that put the boy and I seriously behind our target of 8 hours.
When I crossed that line at 9 hours and 18 minutes, surrounded by cheery faces and people congratulating me for my achievement I had to stop and take a minute (not just to make sure my legs were still attached to my body). I had to try and shut up the inner voice that was yelling “failure” at me.
You see failure is a big word, and it’s a word that’s slung around far too much.
I rolled over and went back to sleep instead of going to my eye-wateringly early spin class – FAILURE.
I ate a piece of the chocolate fudge cake that Mary from work bought in for her birthday – FAILURE.
I was meant to put that money in my savings account like a real adult, but instead I bought a candle that smells like christmas pudding – FAILURE.
The truth is, those things aren’t failures, and neither was taking an hour and a half longer than I wanted to in a marathon. Some of the biggest, best and most influential people in our modern day society account their success to “failure”. But instead of labelling it that, these men and woman call it a lesson.
And, as we all learnt at school – if you skip class, you don’t learn a thing.
So would you rather be a highly ‘unfailing’ recluse who does nothing? Or a well traveled, well educated, complete and utter failure?
I know what I would rather.
(Well, really I would rather achieving everything I set my mind to ever … but I’m trying to be realistic here).
Taking that word and rephrasing it, giving it the ‘advertising spin’ I’ve mentioned before, is a challenge, but one that I think is important.
(Or, if that doesn’t work for you, why not try celebrating every menial thing you do achieve in the same way you berate yourself when skipping the gym or heading for that second helping. Give yourself a little pat on the back each and every time you make it out the front door in a freshly washed pair of knickers or manage to remember your lunch.)
Despite my complete ignorance on the challenge I faced on Sunday, I had a hell of a time. Between secretly pitting myself against a couple of ladies in neon tutus (old enough to be my Grandma), to piling up the free bananas next to London’s homeless – the night, with all its lessons, was a huge success in my eyes, and I’m excited for the 2015 repeat.
(The boys eyes may have seen it a tad differently and I may be auditioning for a walking partner next year).
*Shine’s Night Walk is a night time walk that aims to raise money, awareness and education about cancer. This year, 17,000 people participated in either the full or half marathon distances, complete with way too many glow sticks and a lot of sore feet. Learn more about it here.