Duncan Whyte Ambassador Blog 2
11am exactly on the 2nd of January 2013. My first born came into this world. For as long as I can recall, I wanted to become a father. It’s the only ambition I have ever really had. I remember trying to bluff my way through my Standard Grade French speaking assessment aged 15 as a result of a combination of being thoroughly under prepared and not giving a ‘merde’ when my teacher asked me ‘Quelles ambitions as-tu dans la vie?’. This I was ready for. I had been ready all my life. ‘Mon ambition dans la vie est de devenir père d’une famille’. Madame lifted her gaze from my assessment record which she had been annotating furiously for the past five minutes but which felt like an eternity and made momentary eye contact but long enough to utter what every kid who has ever darkened a French lesson longs to hear. ‘Tres bien Duncan, Tres bien’. Fast forward back to 2013 and I first lay eyes on my daughter. Three days after my wife was first admitted to hospital. I had pretty much lived in the maternity ward during those days overdosing on terrible daytime TV to pass the mindless boredom, getting frustrated at not being able to complete crosswords and eating meals in my car. My wife insists she had it tougher and of course she did. We were both shattered. My overarching memories of that day were primarily of relief that mother and child were healthy and safe. The rest was numbness and a strange level of disconnect. It wasalmost like this was happening but not to me. Like I was a voyeur watching a reality TV show where I was pleased that the characters I was rooting for had pulled through but that wasabout it. I was expecting fireworks, a sense of euphoria, something otherworldly. Maybe it was the fatigue. Maybe it was the spirit crushing game shows. Maybe it was the Entonox (which I would thoroughly recommend by the way) or the three square meals a day from a vending machine. Whatever it was, it wasn’t what I expected. Mother and baby were doing well so I was asked to kindly leave the premises (not for the first time in my life but under entirely different circumstances). I drove home. Opened the door. Navigated my way to my bed and fell asleep. Keys still in the lock of the outside of the door. It then hit me. Hard. I usually groggily phase myself gently from slumber to consciousness via at least three slams of the snooze button. Not on this day. I woke in an instant. Sat bolt upright with adrenaline rushing through my veins and feeling like my heart was going to burst out of my chest. I tried to engage my brain. I was too young for a stroke, what was going on? Then I realised. It had happened. I was a dad. Me. To a beautiful little girl. She was mine, I was hers. Throw on some clothes, a particularly clashing combination in my giddy haste. Get in car, drive too fast (nothing illegal but not in my usual frugal mindset of optimising my MPG manner). I held her in my arms and the world seemed at peace. 1000 merdique nappys later, being puked on in a supermarket where the vomit went down my coat neck and came out of my sleeve and countless sleepless nights since have knocked the rose tinted spectacles from my face. Well, just a little. Regardless, being a dad is the proudest achievement I have had in life and trying to be a good dad is undoubtedly the biggest challenge that I have ever faced. I make mistakes all too often but I am fiercely proud of my family and do my best to meet their ever shifting needs.
Running is one of the few aspects of my life where I can recreate some of the physiological sensations I experienced the day after my daughter was born. I enjoy entering mass participation races and being part of a supercolony of runners who thrive off each other’s energy, positivity and encouragement. Whether it’s a 5K, 10K or half marathon, I get a real buzz from taking part and pursuing individual goals and overcoming personal barriers. The finish is always the highlight and reaching around the last 500 metre mark is when the best feeling comes for me. I can feel wave after wave of endorphins washing over my body, turning it to jelly and simultaneously strengthening my resolve to push my body harder to get over the line. It genuinely gives me an enormous sense of wellbeing. Pencilling in organised events such as the Mens 10K in Edinburgh into my diary helps to motivate my running in between races and compels to me to go out for a run and reap all the benefits that this brings even on the coldest, windiest and wettest of nights the East coast has to offer. If you have never ran a race before, I implore you to do so. Perhaps you are new to running or have recently embarked on the couch to 5k training plan and feel that I’m not good enough or not fast enough to take part. Let me reassure you that running events in my experience are some of the most inclusive activities I have participated in. All sizes, shapes, abilities, levels of experience are represented and the community spirit amongst runners ensures everyone feels valued whether you finish first or last. When you feel like you are hitting the wall and a complete stranger who has made up the numbers who line the streets shouts ‘come on Duncan, you can do it’ as they read the name next to your number, it gives you a thrill and pushes you on to achieve things you thought were beyond you. Sign up for an event today such as the Men’s 10K in Edinburgh, I guarantee you will not regret it and suspect you will enrol in many similar events in the future.
Having ran quite a number of races over the past few years, this will be the first time that I have ran for charity. In a very selfish way I started running for me, kept running for me and entered races for the aforementioned high it gives me. Oh, and for the bling. I love a medal I do. I guess I have always felt a bit awkward asking friends and family for money for doing something I overtly enjoy, which I do to manage my own physical and mental health and for which I would quite readily pay to do. I feel very honoured to have been chosen to become a Mens 10K Edinburgh Ambassador however the most ambassadorial thing I have done to date is to gift wrap some Ferrero rocher to give to my granny at Christmas. Exquisite but hardly inspirational. Given that I have been lucky enough to have been chosen for this role, it only seems right to make my running be about someone else rather than myself for once. At the Mens 10K in Edinburgh this year, I am going to be raising funds for an organisation called ‘The Yard.
The Yard is an award-winning charity running adventure play services for disabled children, young people and their caregivers in the East of Scotland. The Yard provides physical as well as emotional support to families in an environment that allows children with additional support needs to have opportunities to promote their physical development and social communication in a safe and vibrant setting. My awesome son Theo loves visiting the Yard in both Edinburgh and Dundee. As his dad, it is so satisfying to see him explore the facilities at the Yard with confidence, take controlled risks that he wouldn’t in other contexts and moreover relax and have a bundle of fun. What The Yard gets so right is in fostering a culture and ethos of inclusivity and equity for children and families who often have experiences of feeling marginalised and excluded or simply having trouble accessing other services. Signing up for the Men’s 10K in Edinburgh and being lucky enough to do so as an ambassador for the event provides me with a platform to highlight the fantastic work of all the people who make The Yard what it is, to raise money to help support the services The Yard offers and to put a little something back into a facility which I and my son have benefited from and feel so passionate about.
Race day is just over a month away now and my regular running routine continues although I have not got out as often or ran as far during training runs as I would have hoped for. Things have been super busy at work, a short period of illness, the nights turning darker and just generally being shattered as a result of a busy professional and domestic schedule has meant that whilst I am keeping my body and running legs ticking over, I am certainly not in any shape to be aiming for a PB come November the 3rd. I much prefer running outdoors as opposed to in the gym and as the weather turns a bit wetter and wilder so it will take considerable personal commitment to motivate myself to get out and try to get into some form of reasonable shape. I just need to remind myself that I always feel better after a run even when the prospect of going for one in the first place can be a little less than appealing. To compound matters, I thought it would be a great idea back in May shortly after completing my first half marathon to sign up for another. This is now tomorrow (Sundaty 29th September). Tonight is an incredibly are child free evening as my cherubs go for a sleepover at their grandparents house. Thus I am preparing for the 21.1km having had two beers and a glass of wine to wash down the meal my wife and I enjoyed at our local curry house. I am not sure this is exactly how Mo Farah prepares 16 hours before his events but whilst running is important to me, being a father and a husband always comes first. I am sure Mo would approve.
Hopefully I will see some of you other dads, grandads, sons, uncles and brothers at the start line on the Royal Mile for the Men’s 10k in Edinburgh 2019. In my next blog, I will let you know how my balti fuelled half marathon went, update you as to how my training has been progressing and share with you my pre race thoughts and emotions prior to the big day.
If you are reading this blog and feel like you would make even the smallest of contributions to The Yard then you can do so by visiting my JustGiving page at https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/duncan-whyte1 This would help to support The Yard continue to support the development of and create wonderful experiences for children with additional support needs.