The events in Manchester last week have changed me in ways I can’t quite put in to words yet. This attack occurred in my city, my home – I feel a cluster of many emotions, some are more difficult to pin down than others. It’s been a week since the terrorist attack and while we return to going about our days, there is no going back to normal-normal. Sure, I’ve gone to work, I’ve met up with friends in a pub – all the usual things I do in a week. It’s just not the same. My city is not the same, at all, and I’m trying to process it in the best way I can, by running.
The day after the attack was run #6. I woke up early that day to a ton of messages on my phone asking if I’m safe. My first instinct was “eh?” (that is the extent of my conversational skills before coffee at 6am). It was several minutes of frantic scrolling that made me realise what had happened.
I wasn’t sure how to react and the next few minutes I think I just went into autopilot, texting replies to my family and friends abroad. I didn’t realise I was dressed in my running gear until it came to putting on my shoes. That’s when the fear hit me. Different to the reaction of reading news updates. This fear was new. Unlike anything I’ve felt, ever. This fear was immobilising and I sat for a good while, unable to move.
When I realised I couldn’t move, that’s when I got angry.
Why am I not moving?
Am I afraid?
WTF? No. NO.
I don’t want this. I don’t want to live in fear.
Make it stop! What can I do? What can I DO?
I got rightly pissed off. Somehow, in my anger, was able to tie my shoes and find the will to step outside my front door.
Run #6 (2km in 12:00): I can’t quite explain how I got myself out to run that awful morning. All I remember was feeling that I needed to run. To start dealing with the fear? To feel a little more ‘normal’, knowing that Manchester will change because of this? To give myself something to focus on? I don’t know really.
Run #7 (3km in 18:00): The run later that week was much of the same kind of emotional daze, just less of the initial shock from the news and more of the anger and sadness present.
Race day (10km in 1:01:25): Then came Sunday, the Greater Manchester 10K Run. I love this event. I really do. I’ve run every year for the past 5 years and it’s become a permanent fixture in my calendar. It’s a race that is so alive – not just because of the sheer amount of spectators but the energy along the track! The singing, the bands, the DJs, all the people along the sidelines cheering your on – it’s just so much fun! For me, this event represents everything great about Manchester.
So when I did ask myself if I should take part in a race that sees around 40,000 people running (my purple wave alone is 4000 runners), part of me crumbled, but then another part of me got really, really angry. I decided I had to run this race to face down my fears. I suppose I wanted to be there, to see first hand that my city was going to recover.
It was a subdued, yet positive atmosphere throughout. After our wave assembled at the start time, we began with 1 minute silence to remember the victims. It’s hard to imagine the city centre falling silent (and in Manchester of all places) but it was a powerful moment that made everything more real, more “here” for me. The silence ended with a reading of the poem “Do Something” by Tony Walsh, a stirring tribute that puts into words the spirit of this city. It was a kind of reassurance for me, that I was suppose to be here.
Final run, #8 (4km in 25:30): Today was my final run for #mymarathon. I’ve run a total of 47km / 29 miles this month for The British Heart Foundation. Although I’ve completed #mymarathon I’ll keep running. There are more races to run!
Thanks to all for your love, support and encouragement! If can, do consider making a donation to The British Heart Foundation: https://mymarathon17.everydayhero.com/uk/eljee