Meg's Half Marathon
In this blog post, Meg Holch explains why she ran a Half Marathon for Sing Inside, and how she motivated herself to run the 13.2 miles.
On the 23rd of February, I ran the Richmond Park Half Marathon. It was my first run of this distance, and a sense of trepidation fell the night before. My flatmate and I discussed our nerves for the race as we ate the obligatory pre-run vat of pasta. It was the magnitude of the distance that I was struggling to gauge, and I was not overly confident that my limbs would cope with it.
Running has been a steady constant throughout my active years. Other exercise forms have come and go but running is always one I return to; it allows me space and time to process whatever is on my mind at the time. I have never been motivated by times as I'm not gifted with speed – the half marathon was certainly a plodding affair. However, maybe it was the winter months or the deadline stress of my master's degree, but my training for the half didn't exactly go to plan. It was sporadic at best, the occasional 5k on a Saturday for Park Run and then a random midday 7 miles on a weekday. Residual strength from consistent training did not carry me across the finish line; it was the cause for which I was running.
The run was over two hours, so I had a lot of thinking space as I navigated the hills and muddy swamps of the park. For most of it, I was deeply tuned into my expertly crafted playlist and was enjoying bopping around to the likes of Nina Simone and Lizzo. However, at other points which often coincided with steep inclines, my mind was reflecting on the organisation I was running for and the people I have met through Sing Inside. Since becoming involved with the charity last September, the kindness and dedication demonstrated by the hardworking volunteers and workshop leaders have inspired me to display greater care into my day to day exchanges. However, it is through my interactions with the residents that I feel has profoundly shaped me.
"At other points which often coincided with steep inclines, my mind was reflecting on the organisation I was running for and the people I have met through Sing Inside."
I remember my first visit where my nerves led to some approximate spelling of some of the resident's names. I wish I could blame it on my dyslexia, but I think I was just ignorant of certain male names. I felt terrible, and the nerves rose. Nevertheless, as the day progressed, all of those sentiments faded into the background. In its place were meaningful conversations about music, the joys of singing, and what meaning it can bring to our lives. It is these conversations which have stayed with me. Recommendations of artists to listen to when I got home accompanied frank discussions about prison life. These instances of human connection are some of the most vivid and meaningful I have experienced.
The Sing Inside workshops facilitate something more than just coming together musically – which is, of course, significant in itself - they create an environment of sharing and warmth. It was the promise of more of these experiences for residents across the country, which made me persevere through a few of the trickier miles.
"Sing Inside workshops ... create an environment of sharing and warmth. The promise of more of these experiences for residents which made me persevere"
Running a half marathon was a great personal achievement, but the experience was imbued with greater meaning as I was running for an organisation I care about. It was worth it: every deep heat patch I stuck on my back or lathered on my calves, it was completely worth it. I'm looking forward to swapping my trainers for workshop spaces and singing alongside the team and the residents taking part. Hopefully, some of the money raised will enable Sing Inside to continue its excellent work.
You can still donate to Meg's Virgin Giving page here.