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Your Mountain Awaits

Hi Everyone,

Just sharing some thoughts about my recent marathon experience, which was not the moment of glory I had hoped it would be.

I've run the London marathon four times now, and this year was going to be my year. I wanted a personal best - I wanted to impress people, to shine, and have a great time doing it. I guess there's a part of me, perhaps of everyone, that loves it when people shout 'Well done!' When you get praised for doing something well, for being your best and perhaps living your greatest moment.

Training was going brilliantly, until 1 week before the marathon. I got a tight muscle, and no amount of stretching and sports massage worked to fix it. I almost considered not running the marathon, but we had worked so hard on the Nemo costume I was wearing, and it was my ballot place - I desperately wanted to run it. So that morning I put on my costume. I walked semi-confidently, hiding my nerves, to the tube station and got on the train with thousands of other runners.

Initially I felt good. The leg pain had subsided, and I just wondered if that PB might even be within reach.

I crossed the start line and began to run. I felt good, but ran/walked the first few miles, not wanting to go too quickly and get injured. I gained confidence as I ran and I felt good. I began to feel that if I pushed it a bit, that PB might just happen. So after some time I just ran, 10:30 minute miles, to cries of 'NEMO!' from the thousands of spectators. The families loved the costume and it felt so good! I began to love it

Until I reached 13 miles. At mile 13 a new pain started in my good leg. I walked a bit, thinking if I changed posture or speed I might loosen it up. I ran/walked a while, but somehow knew this was not going to ease up. I began to feel hot and uncomfortable, and wanted desperately to run, watching my average pace increase to the point I knew that PB was almost impossible to get. I kept trying to run, but after a few minutes the run became too painful and I had to walk again. Every mile became a battle, creeping slowly by. The mental battle to keep going, step by step with every part of my brain wanting to give up was immense.

I crossed the finish line one hour after my hoped for time, feeling low, exhausted, and as though my opportunity to have my greatest moment had just slipped past. Instead of the elation of running the London Marathon, I felt low, sad and disappointed.

Then that song came to me - 'The Climb.' I'm not sure why I thought of it, i'd not heard it since Joe McElderry won the X factor in 2009 with it.

As I played it this morning, the words echoed in my mind, with memories of those last 13.2 miles as my dream of my greatest marathon moment slipped away.

'I can almost see it

That dream I'm dreaming but There's a voice inside my head sayin, You'll never reach it,

Every step I'm taking, Every move I make feels Lost with no direction My faith is shaking but I

Got to keep trying Got to keep my head held high...'

And then the song turns a corner, from dreams that potentially slip away; from belief, optimism and motivation that vaporises, to the hope of a new climb, a new mountain, a new dream...

'There's always going to be another mountain I'm always gonna wanna make it move

Always going to be an uphill battle, Sometimes I'm gonna have to lose, Ain't about how fast I get there, Ain't about what's waiting on the other side

It's the climb.'

There are many of us who go through each day surrounded by the scattered remnants of broken dreams, goals we would love to achieve but with the complications of life they feel too hard to reach. Things we would love to do but our current struggles mean we simply cannot accomplish them. I speak to many people who say they would love to run, walk, swim, cycle, achieve that degree, change career, find love, climb that mountain. But there's a voice inside their head saying 'You'll never reach it.'

And so we keep going through life, step by step, day by day, sometimes only just making it through each moment. Sometimes it is hard to look up and see the next mountain peak as we take our journey through life. Sometimes the clouds come down and obscure our vision of our goal, our dream, and we lose sight of the heights we are aiming for, those stunning snowy mountain peaks of success. The valleys of life can be a hard trudge in those moments of struggle.

But whatever happens, whatever life throws at us, those peaks are still there. Those dreams remain deep within our inner being, even if we cannot at this time visualise them. Our dreams, our goals, our greatest moments are there, waiting to be fulfilled, even if life has temporarily obscured them.

Clouds will dissipate. the weather will clear. And when it does, those dreams that lie deep within will begin to rise to the surface. And as those dreams rise up, they give our mind and body the motivation and the power to begin those first few tentative steps to achieving them. Sometimes those steps feel weak and unstable. Sometimes it is a real mental battle to even make ourselves move. But every step counts. Every step is a step towards victory, however difficult it seems and even if we cannot see what victory looks like. Every step is the first step towards your marathon - your journey, your climb, your mountain, your success.

We each have different dreams, and the journey of life will look different for all of us. But whatever stage of achieving them we are at, whatever life is currently throwing at us, never give up hope that taking those first tentative steps and then keeping going despite hardship and struggle, will mean you achieve your goal, whatever that goal looks like in the end.

it doesn't matter if the journey is messy, it doesn't matter if we lose a battle. It's about the climb. It's about the journey. And sometimes when we lose, when we 'fail' we learn our greatest lessons. The foundation of success - our greatest moments, is built from the many stones of failure.

'Just got to keep going

And we've got to be strong Just keep pushing on, cause There's always going to be another mountain We're always gonna wanna make it move Always gonna be an uphill battle, Sometimes we're gonna have to lose, Ain't about how fast we get there, Ain't about what's waiting on the other side It's the climb Keep on moving Keep on climbing'

Whatever your goal, then even if you're feeling weak and unable to move a single step, grab the remnants of your confidence, tie up your laces, and begin to move. Even if you cannot clearly see the way forward and are unsure where you are going, begin to move - the way ahead will become clear.

Whether you are alone or standing among thousands, whether you feel strong or weak, begin to climb. Let the shreds of our weaknesses, broken dreams and so-called failures fall away as we stand, raise our heads and begin that trek up the mountain of success, whatever success may look like. Never give up. Your success awaits you.

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