I’ve always watched the London Marathon, both on television and in person. There’s something about it that brings me to tears every time, hearing every story and watching all those people push towards an insane distance. It makes me feel like as a bunch of people, with that much drive and ambition, we can achieve anything.
Sometime in my very early twenties, whilst regaining my fitness lost in my late teens through too much drinking and partying, I managed to run 15 minutes non-stop on a treadmill – I couldn’t believe it, it felt like I’d just smashed a new world target – I had never enjoyed running, was always awful at it, and never done more than 10 minutes without feeling I was going to die even in my youth. I had a very clear and determined thought that if I can get to 15 minutes, I can get to a marathon. It was so clear, so obvious, and became a reality in that moment. I didn’t have the time to push it then (work got in the way, and alas, more partying and drinking) but the moment stuck with me.
Fast forward a decade. A long, life changing decade – filled with two pregnancies, two births, breastfeeding, and lack of care to my body from Just Getting Through It All. I was tipping over 15 stones (100kgs – I’ve added a photo in my album for you to giggle at), and feeling pretty groggy in myself. I was fat. I was unfit. And I snapped, something had to change: I wasn’t ready to give up on my body yet – I was 33, and there’s life in the old girl yet.
I didn’t want to go to the gym, I didn’t want to do exercise classes. I’d done both of these things before and found the amount of time invested compared to the results and the diary constraints weren’t worth it. A lot of my friends were runners, and I’d been watching them achieve things for themselves and getting caught up in their enthusiasm. I bought a pair of trainers, and decided I’d give it a go. The marathon dream stirred.
I got as far as the end of the street, about 80 meters, when I realised *quite* how unfit I was. I wanted to puke and cry in equal measure. I did neither. I walked a bit, got my breath back, and ran on a bit more. I managed around 5 minutes that day. It was the hardest most humiliating run I’ve ever done.
Lacing up my trainers and getting out the door was awful, every time. There was never a time in the first few months where I wanted to go. So I set myself a goal – to do a 5k charity run dressed as Santa to raise money for the Special Care Baby Unit my daughter had been looked after in after birth. Every time it hurt when I ran, every time it rained, every time I wanted to give up I thought of her, and other babies fighting for their lives and realised I could keep going. I had so much to give them in charity donations from my friends, and so much to give my children by being fit and healthy, the pain is temporary, and you forget it. You never forget your achievements.
Somehow, I got to 5k. I got round the course in 36 minutes, with a chest infection. I was over the moon. My chest infection got really bad, and I had to stop running. It took me 6 weeks to get rid of the infection and it knocked all my fitness out. I drifted out of the habit, and stopped running for a year. I’d lost my mojo, and my drive.
Fast forward another year, and I was completely over being overweight. I needed to change my diet, lifestyle and get some exercise. I dug out my trainers at the start of 2014.
I started running to lose weight. I put on 3lbs in the first month. I was determined to try harder. I ran more, surely more running will help me lose weight? I got up to 10k on my own within a few months, and then started doing parkruns to get used to the idea of running with people (something that had always scared me due to my size). Settings goals like parkrun, and 10k races kept me going. Someone once said to me that races and public runs are the End of Level Bosses to all the grinding and levelling up. I love that analogy, and for me it’s completely true.
A few months in to my grinding and boss slaying, I was still putting on weight – but by now, I loved running. I kept the running up and changed my diet. I tracked everything I ate and made changes. I lost 20lbs in 3 months at the end of 2014. I bought some compression wear, and started to enjoy how my body was feeling.
In 2015 I ran a half marathon on my 1 runiversary. I managed a time of 2hrs 28minutes, and I was over the moon. I ran all over the summer, and loved every minute. Running has become my favourite hobby, and I can’t believe it. It’s pushed me to places I didn’t know I could go to physically and mentally, and helped control my anxiety and depression.
I applied for a place in the London Marathon ballot for 2016, and like almost everyone else in the world didn’t get in, so I chose to run for Barnardos who are an excellent charity, and fantastic running support.
I started training properly for the marathon in December 2015, and other than an irritating overuse set of knee injuries that popped up late February didn’t have any dramas. No blisters, no aches, no ongoing issues.
Happy to report that I completed the London Marathon 2016 in 5hrs 2minutes🙂 You can read how it went, here.