Wednesday, 10 August 2016

Guest Post - Tilly Tennant runs a Half Marathon - Booklympics

During the Christmas of 2011 my brother decided that he was going to raise the money for his daughter, who has cerebral palsy, to have life changing surgery only available in America. It would mean that she would be able to walk for the first time ever, but it was also a heck of a lot of money. 

‘How would you feel about doing a half marathon to raise funds?’ he asked. 

I have three brothers, all younger than me, and the others had agreed to take part. It was difficult for me to say no, and of course I wanted to help.  Thirteen miles – how hard could it be? I’d run three before and it was only ten more, I thought glibly to myself. 

‘When is it?’ I asked. 


This was at the end of December, so I had three months to train.  

‘Ok,’ I told him. ‘I’ll do it. 

Fast forward to the event, at which point I had done almost no training whatsoever. In January it had seemed that March was still a long way away, and my good intentions to start had been thwarted by post-Christmas laziness. February had been full of snow that hampered every attempt to run. I had done a couple of treadmill sessions, and the odd road run where I mostly slipped and tripped on ice, but the furthest I had gone was nine miles. Nine miles is ok, I thought, it’s only another four on top of that.  So March arrived and even as I stood at the start line I had no idea how woefully underprepared I was. My husband had told me as much that morning, and he told me that I’d never finish the race. From that moment I knew that I would finish it no matter what it took.

We started to run, and for the first mile I was swept up in the excitement as friends and family waved us off.  My brothers and I started out together, but by mile two I had lost sight of them all. By the time I saw the sign for three miles I was convinced that I’d done at least six, and when mile six arrived I was practically suicidal at the thought that we weren’t even half way.  Old ladies and people in huge costumes jogged past me with ease and my brothers were nowhere to be seen.  We ran through a housing estate where people sat out in deckchairs to watch from their gardens.  One man jogged alongside offering drinks, and someone pressed a can of cider into my hand as I went past. 
Not knowing what to do with it, and too exhausted to crack it open and have a drink (it was tempting and perhaps being drunk would have dulled the pain) I took it with me for another half mile before I deposited it at a water station. We got to a huge hill and it took all my strength not to sit down and give up.  I kept thinking about my niece, who would have loved the chance to be able to run at all and what it would mean for her to have the surgery we were raising money to pay for, and I kept thinking about the smug look on the faces of my brothers if they all finished and I didn’t! So I didn’t sit down and I didn’t give up.

By the time I got to mile twelve I could barely put one foot in front of the other and I swear I had started to hallucinate. To this day I have no idea how I did that final mile, and the one abiding memory is the people lining the streets and cheering me on. Without them I wouldn’t have kept going, although at the time if I’d had the strength there were a few choice swearwords I would have shouted back in return as they urged me to keep running. 

Imagine my relief at seeing the finishing line.  I finally tottered over it after just over two and a half hours.  In the end I was proud of my time, and even prouder that out of the four siblings I didn’t finish last. I came in a respectable third, my youngest brother having taken the dubious honour of the family donkey.  He still blames a dodgy knee, but I just smile and nod and secretly congratulate myself for not being such an unfit oldie after all. 

My reward at the end of the hardest physical test I’ve ever inflicted upon myself? A tug on my friend’s asthma inhaler (I don’t have asthma so you can imagine the state I was in to need it), a MacDonald’s milkshake and a piggy back from a very shamefaced husband back to the car.  But we got the money and my niece got her surgery, so it was worth every second of the pain. 

Thank you so much Tilly Tennant for sharing that with us, what an inspirational story, and I'm so glad it was worth it in the end.

About Tilly Tennant

Tilly Tennant was born in Dorset, the oldest of four children, but now lives in Staffordshire with a family of her own. After years of dismal and disastrous jobs, including paper plate stacking, shop girl, newspaper promotions and waitressing (she never could carry a bowl of soup without spilling a bit), she decided to indulge her passion for the written word by embarking on a degree in English and creative writing, graduating in 2009. She wrote a novel in 2007 during her first summer break at university and has not stopped writing since. She also works as a freelance fiction editor, and considers herself very lucky that this enables her to read many wonderful books before the rest of the world gets them.

Hopelessly Devoted to Holden Finn was her debut novel; published in 2014 it was an Amazon bestseller in both the UK and Australia. It was followed by Mishaps and Mistletoe, The Man Who Can't Be Moved, the Mishaps in Millrise series and the Once Upon a Winter series. In 2016 she signed to the hugely successful Bookouture with the first book of her Honeybourne series out June 2016. Find out more about Tilly and how to join her mailing list for news and exclusives at

The Little Village Bakery on Amazon UK:

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