Since the start of 2013, I have run three hundred and thirty-seven miles.
And I know it would be the traditional pattern of the Little Pink Kitchen to start lightly mocking that right now, but I really can’t.
I, Sarah Patterson, of the Little Pink Kitchen, have run THREE HUNDRED AND THIRTY SEVEN miles in four months.
Not all of those miles have been easy.
In fact, some of them have been downright hellish.
The first two I ran of this year were particularly crap.
I had high hopes for the first run of the year being all full of joy and new life and hope for 2013. Unfortunately I was sweating shots of run for the first half, and dreaming of a bacon sandwich for the second.
Then there was the casual Tuesday night I went out for a ‘short jog’.
No sweat, I figured.
I had run 10 miles just two days before, a few miles would be a CINCH.
From the first step, every single muscle in my body ached. My mind told me I couldn’t run even one more step, never mind all the way home. I felt so alone, so disappointed, so hideously unfit I sobbed like a baby on the slipway of the Titanic.
There was the long run recently, where, two miles from the end, somebody slowed down to let me cross the road and I had to pretend I was re-tying my shoe.
I wasn’t entirely sure I could make it even to the other side of the road. I couldn’t see how on earth I could put one foot in front of the other, never mind run for twenty more minutes.
There was the long run where I had to do laps of a really boring industrial estate, simply because it was the only place in Belfast that was not covered in a foot of snow.
There was the run where it was raining so hard, the dye from my hair trickled down my face.
There was the run where I forgot to bring water, bought a bottle of sports drink from a garage, and downed it so quickly I spent the second half of the run thinking I was going to be sick.
But yet, somehow, I managed to push through all these moments of misery, to the runs where I went out in a terrible mood, and came home happy.
To the runs the week my father had been taken into hospital to have his toe amputated, where I was feeding my mother her dinner and driving across to the Royal Victoria Hospital every evening. Those late night runs that week, when Mr P was away was on business, kept me sane. They removed me from the sadness of seeing my invincible father in pain and scared, of seeing my mother exhausted and lonely, of having to update family and friends and random strangers in the street. On those runs, all that mattered were the streets of East Belfast, my trusty trainers, and a good playlist.
To the runs where I have worried about the temporary nature of my job, and realised before getting home it will all be OK.
To the runs on crisp winter mornings, before everyone else had even gotten out of bed for the Sunday papers.
To the run where Glentoran football fans lined the Dee Street bridge as I ran home, cheering me all the way.
To the run where I managed to run for ten miles, each taking a whole minute less than the last time I had attempted that very same endeavour.
And, being totally honest, the good runs have absolutely outweighed the bad.
I have run through the streets of Belfast, improving my geography every single time.
I have run over the Comber Greenway, appreciating how lucky we are to have such tranquil spaces so close to our city.
I have run through a season of flag protests in East Belfast, police and protestors alike making sure I didn’t get hurt.
I have run past couples kissing, and teenagers drinking, and even the odd drug deal.
I have run past children learning how to ride a bike, and families out walking, and elderly people keeping themselves active.
I have run past countless dogs, and boat teams rowing, and cycle groups pedalling.
I have seen roadkill, and discarded bags of animal poo, and once an abandoned bottle of Buckfast I was seriously tempted to just stop and take a swig.
But I didn’t.
Because, through running, I have learnt that giving up just is not an option.
That telling yourself a sob story about how you were never picked in games simply does not matter 15 years down the line, all you need to do is keep running until you get home.
That I may not be the fastest, but I am certainly not the slowest.
That no matter how slowly I am running, I am running faster than I ever would lying on the sofa at home.
And I have forced myself to learn all these deep, philosophical lessons about running because, on Monday, i run the Belfast City Marathon.
I am running for Diabetes UK, because I am diabetic.
This godforsaken illness means that all of the eating and drinking I do in the name of the Little Pink Kitchen does not go unsupervised, but the work of this amazing charity means that, with caution, I can live my life whatever way I chose.
Including running 26.2 miles on Monday.
And this is where the jelly beans come in.
Because, since January, I have run 337 miles.
This means I have eaten at least 337 jelly beans.
I leave the house with the sweets stuffed into my sports bra to the point where it looks a bit like a Pic ‘n’ Mix in there.
And by eating a jelly bean every mile, I can keep on running.
The jelly beans don’t take away the pain.
They do not stop the hair dye running down my face.
They do not lessen the amount of laps of an industrial estate that need to be run.
But they do keep me, and my dodgy pancreas, and my unstable blood sugar going.
They keep me going through the streets of Belfast, past the roadkill, and the drinking teenagers, and the toddlers on bicycles.
They will keep me going until that glorious moment, after 26.3 miles of continuous running (which will take me AT LEAST five hours), when I get to stop.
And that is why, this week, in the Little Pink Kitchen, the humble jelly bean reigns supreme.
You can sponsor me and my jelly beans here.
Thank you x