Remember the person who gave up on their dreams? No, neither does anybody else. Sometimes our dreams can feel impossible to achieve, but the more I learn about the power of focus, the more I also realise that NOTHING is impossible.

When I was 12 years old I watched my Dad complete the Southampton Half Marathon and instantly it was on my bucket list to follow in his footsteps. I didn’t call it a bucket list at the time and truthfully I wasn’t sure I’d ever be capable of doing it either, but I had a hunger to one day do it anyway.

I was never the sporty kid. In fact, I was one of those kids that was always the last to be picked in sports and never really considered myself capable of anything physical. Even that didn’t kill the dream.

As I got older, I got fatter and I got sick. Physically there was no way I could run, but I carried the dream anyway. Then everything changed.

Back in 2009 I decided I’d had enough of being obese and sick and made a commitment to get my health back. By 2012 I was slim and fairly fit and decided it was time to start running. I guess you could say I was running towards my dream.

There was a problem. The Southampton Half Marathon no longer existed.

I settled on running the Great South Run. It had kind of replaced the Southampton Half, but was only 10 miles and no longer in Southampton either. The good news was it had places, so I signed up.

I remember frantically looking for a half marathon in Southampton on various running groups and forums. Alas, there was nothing.

I got hold of the route my Dad had run. I ran it. That didn’t count though. I was starting to think I might have to look into arranging my own event. Then, having signed up to the ballot for the 2015 London Marathon, I saw that a new Southampton Half Marathon had been announced. On the SAME DAY!!! Now what?

It was mixed emotions when I discovered I hadn’t been able to get a place in London. I was disappointed as last year’s London Marathon left me with some unfinished business, after picking up an injury, yet I was pleased that I could finally fulfil a VERY long held dream.

Today was race day.

As I stood in the start area I could feel the emotions building. It was like my Dad was watching over me. Like ALL of my running was for THIS moment. I can’t fully explain it, but something bigger than me was taking place. Then we were off.

The course itself was fantastic. A good mix of hills and flat and crowd support throughout. I hadn’t trained as much as maybe I should’ve but I still found myself maintaining a steady pace.

It was great to be back in my home town, running on streets filled with memories. A few of which popped into my head and gave me a cheeky smile.

As I got to the finish line the emotions were back. I heard an announcement saying “Here comes Neil Martin, running in memory of his Dad”. My eyes filled with tears and my heart flooded with pride and gratitude for my health and the ability to finally follow in Dad’s footsteps.

It was emotional, but it was done.

A dream I held for almost 28 years was finally fulfilled.

Sometimes your dreams can take a long time to achieve, but don’t ever give up on them. Stay focused and one day they will happen.

Southampton Half Marathon 2015 Medal


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