Once upon a time the London marathon made me cry

It’s on the telly this morning. There was a time when it broke my aching heart, but I’ve been over it for years.

I came home from war, hurt, badly hurt, but still with my young action man mindset. Determined to make my limbs work again and get back running and stuff. Watched the London marathon from my day bed two years later and vowed I would run it one day.

By the time it was on the telly again the following year, my arms and legs were moving but not in the old way, certainly not in the old way, and I’d had my severe Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME) diagnosis. Chronically ill. Crash course in knowledge I didn’t want.

Still action man in my head. I’d got my limbs working and nothing was going to stop me from running that bloody marathon sometime.

Well, guess what, action man. A year later, everything had crashed from overdoing everything and the London marathon on the telly taunted me into hot bitter tears. Never gonna happen, mate. Never. Just, never. See this bottomless pit? You’re in it. Right in the bottom of it.

All that was about 20 years ago. I’m over the London marathon now. It can’t make me cry anymore. I found another marathon. Two really.

One, the ME one, came without me looking for it or wanting it. I’m still running it. No choice.

The other, learning how to write novels, the one I started to keep myself sane, is also a long distance run. Six titles published so far. Number seven on its way in May. That’s a marathon I can enjoy. Take it at my own pace. At the ME’s pace. At my life’s natural pace. It doesn’t hurt me. Doesn’t make me crash and burn. It’s okay. My life is okay.

Yours will be too. If you’re reading this and hurting, I love you, and you should love you too. Your life will be okay. Be gentle with yourself.

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28 Responses to Once upon a time the London marathon made me cry

  1. Damn.

    Tears, man. You get it.

    Me, was my knee. Blew it out on a ski hill 2 miles above the lodge, sitting down on a mogul to wait for a friend who shouldn’t have been on the face to begin with and decided to snowplow – snowplow! – down it. When I stood, my knee dislocated for the 12th and last time, tearing a bunch of shit inside.

    I walked off that mountain. No effing way would they take me in a banana boat with the ski team. No.way. They’d have to take my cold, dead body first.

    It wasn’t properly treated. My mother didn’t want a jock daughter, so that suited her just fine even if it ended my track career as a sprinter. My father told me a bunch of bull about if I let a doctor near it, there was a real chance I’d never walk again.

    Fifteen years later I finally let my doctor look at it. He sent me to a surgeon, a joint specialist, and I told him it had better not be some knife-happy ass-hat. Surgery was scheduled for a week later. I had a bone broken off under the patella, which was off to the left by 14 degrees, and a meniscal tear. Eighteen months of physical therapy and I could walk – WALK – without pain. To this day, I cannot run. I can manage a weird, old-lady shamble. I cannot even run from an attacker should the need arise.

    Irony? I now work for an Ironman triathalete who is doing not one but TWO olympic-length triathalons in June. Oddly, he understands why I’m an athlete in an overweight body and I’ve been, by inches, able to modify my eating in the last week. I hope to get back to the gym but fear’s big brother stands in front of my door.

    When I tell him about writing, though, he gets it. So yeah. Hells yeah. Writing IS about endurance, and about what makes one successful in a marathon. I’m glad that your heart is no longer broken by the London Marathon. Mine is not yet ready to give up being bitter but I’m working on it.

    And in the meantime, I’m writing.

    Love you, brother from another continent. Big hugs.

    • David Bridger says:

      Love you, sister from across the water.

      And I’m glad you got your knee properly treated, eventually.

  2. Angela Campbell says:

    Keep writing, David!

  3. R.L. Naquin says:

    As a fan of your work, I’m so happy you switched from running to writing. As your friend, I’m both heartbroken and proud of you. Sending hugs and positive thoughts. Good luck with the new release!

  4. Well, my friend, I’m glad to hear you’re writing, and even more glad to hear you are feeling somewhat better. I understand those degrees of better, as in today I can sit a couple more minutes than I could yesterday, or even today the pain doesn’t bring tears to my eyes like yesterday. Long row to hoe and long road ahead, but I have no doubt you’ll do it. Thoughts and prayers with you every single day.

    Big hugs,

    • David Bridger says:

      And mine are with you, my friend. Thank you.

      Truth is of course that the writing is happening mostly in my head, with a hundred words of it splurged on a page now and then. But the story’s the thing, and having one living in my mind is an excellent tonic.

      I hope you have many good days free of pain, Georgia.

      Big hugs backatcha!

  5. Barb Taub says:

    I saw someone at the Boston Marathon with this on his shirt, “It must be borne in mind that the tragedy of life doesn’t lie in not reaching your goal. The tragedy lies in having no goals to reach.” That was said by Dr. Benjamin E. Mays, mentor to Martin Luther King. He knew about goals. I think you might just know more. So congratulations on each and every marathon you enter. They might not be in London, but you certainly run a lot of them.

  6. Jane Kindred says:

    Glad you’re still writing and taking it at your own pace. I’ve dealt with pain a bit myself for the past six months (luckily, far less now than it was at the beginning) and I had to stop forcing myself to write at other people’s pace in order to take care of myself. Writing is definitely a marathon and not a sprint.

  7. Ann Gimpel says:

    Aw, David, your post almost had me in tears. I worked in a chronic pain rehab clinic for several years, so I have some inkling of what you’ve gone through, at least from the outside looking in.
    No matter what the body does, you’ve kept your spirit alive and viable. Kudos to you for making that choice. There are others that aren’t nearly as nice. I love you books and I’m glad you’re writing.
    We are again sharing a release date. I’d be happy to trade reviews with you again.

    • David Bridger says:

      Thank you, Ann. Yay for us being release date buddies again. I love your books and look forward to reading the new one.


  8. Ann Gimpel says:

    Oh yes, I Twittered, FBed, and G+ed. Now off to hunt down supper.

  9. I’ve been through a lot of medical challenges, so _man_ do I understand how it can kick you right out of getting a thing accomplished. And how you have to rearrange your priorities.

    Good for you for finding different marathons to run. I’ve tweeted about this post!

    • David Bridger says:

      Thank you, Angela. Medical stuff can wash away all our carefully constructed plans like a tidal wave, can’t it?

  10. April Taylor says:

    Like the song “Don’t it always seem to go that you don’t know what you’ve got til it’s gone.” That said, David, you have approached your restrictions with courage and understanding reality. Live your dreams in your writing and don’t ever ever give up.

  11. Look after yourself. And keep writing! 😀


  12. Steve Vera says:

    David, what a post. Very powerful, but more importantly, very inspiring. Thank you for sharing a little bit of yourself and can’t wait to check out your new release! Here’s to fortitude and inspiration. *lifting coffee mug*

  13. Cate Dean says:

    What a touching, and heart wrenching post. I suffered from back issues, so I have been on your side of the fence, David. I can’t wait to read the new release!


    • David Bridger says:

      Thank you, Cate. I hope your back is better now.

      And I hope you enjoy Gifted when it’s released. 🙂

  14. I’ve been away all week without computer access and have only just seen your post. It seems to fit well with thoughts I had while watching parts of the marathon on TV on holiday. I was very struck – and a bit annoyed – by the way the commentators responded to Mo Farah, seeming to suggest that he had “failed” and should resign himself to not entering again because he didn’t come first. This is a man at the absolute top of his specific branch of athletics, running four times his usual distance and finishing in the same group as top international marathon runners, and they were more or less advising him to give up – so where does that leave all the “ordinary” people who run for fun or for charity or a challenge – people who take 5 or 6 hours but for them it’s a big step up from what they usually do? I actually think both are admirable accomplishments. And so is doing anything that is stretching for the person doing it. You are doing stretching things all the time and that’s just as inspiring.

    I also love this from your follow-up comment: “But the story’s the thing, and having one living in my mind is an excellent tonic.” Most of the stories in my mind never make it to the length and complexity that would make them writeable, but I certainly love having them there!

    • David Bridger says:

      Hi, Kate. Welcome home! I hope you enjoyed your holiday.

      Yes, Janette and I were irritated by the marathon commentators’ remarks about Mo Farah. Brendan Foster was snarking about him even before the race started!

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