Steph Back: I ran the Cardiff Half Marathon for Taking Flight Theatre Company

Posted on November 2, 2017

Run a half marathon… easy. Think this is a magical guide that tells you how to train perfectly for your first half marathon? Think again.

Now, a good eight months back, I came to the decision that I wanted to do something to raise money for Taking Flight Theatre; they strive to make every single one of their performances accessible to D/deaf, blind, visually impaired, disabled and non-disabled people.

They have a project called You’ve Got Dragons that is aimed at young children and their families about a young girl’s journey with her mental health. This is something that is very close to my heart, so I just signed up to the half marathon hoping that I might be able to support in some way.

Now I’m not a runner, and I didn’t start off training in the best possible way… I went a couple of months avoiding even the thought of running and then one day, decided to try and attempt to do the whole 13.1 miles all in one go.

Oh yes.

Early one April morning I woke up around six, walked to the train station, and got the train all the way to Newport. Now the magical thing about Newport train station is that it is exactly 13.1 miles away from where I wanted to be in Cardiff. The aim? Run back in time before breakfast stopped being served at Chapter Arts Centre. So there I was, Google maps and water in hand, running/ walking/ crawling my way back; all the while signing to myself about how wonderful the food would be upon arrival. I made it… just.

A few months of random experiments like this led me to discover something that has been kept secret from the world for over 5000 years. Coffee. I was later told that

it wasn’t the healthiest of options to fill a Tupperware jar with strong black coffee and lots of sugar and then run, run and run some more… But, for me, it really helped.

Forest Gump, how did he do it? Olympians were finishing this distance in under an hour; I was struggling to get under 3! Running is hard.

You’d think that an activity that used your legs wouldn’t have anything to do with your ears. There was many a time running that I was scared to run round corners as there were so many cars speeding around the bends; it was really quite scary.

I stayed running by the river after that. Two very close people in my life on separate occasions recommended listening to audio books and music whilst I run; something that a lot of hearing people do apparently, not so possible in my case…

13.1 doesn’t seem like a big number. If you put 13.1 sweets in front of me I would ask for more. Put 13.1 miles ahead of me, that’s a different story!

I was slow. I’m not claiming to have won any Olympic medals – but I didn’t stop. Told myself incredibly cheesy things like how Taking Flight didn’t stop trying to make their work as accessible as possible, so why should I stop on this run?

It may be cheesy but it is true, and that’s what got me through. (In 2 hours 33 mins I must add). Along with the £587.50 of sponsors pledged on the run, the awesomeness of team Taking Flight waving me on the side-lines and well…the big cup of coffee I had just before the race began!

Unfortunately I now have that running bug, what’s next? A full Marathon…

Steph Back is a profoundly Deaf actress who also paints, and watches far too much suspect television (Fawlty Towers especially).

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