Whilst visiting my Aunt and Uncle, who live on an Island in South Carolina, I needed to tackle a 20 mile long run for my Marathon Training. Factoring in your training when on holiday with family can be tricky. You want to stay cool and not let your obsessive training plan dominate your visit and turn you into an anti-social running bore. Also, it can be pretty tough actually finding long routes. This particular Island is small and so unless I wanted to run the Island loop (which is 3 miles) about 6 times, I needed to try and venture out of their beautiful community and head along the marsh land. I had prepared for the run the night before, taking it light with the the sun downers and heavy on the carb dinner and so physically and mentally I was good to go when the sun rose at 7am. My plan was to slip out and try and get back before I was even missed. Gorgeous morning, but started heating up quickly. Exiting the Island, I got a friendly nod from the security guard. Out on the roads there was very little shoulder and a humming bustle of traffic getting going with their day. I blocked it out and kept steady with my “go-to” mantra, which is basically a series of counting combinations in step with my foot strike. Taking in the wild scenery, my strategy formed as I ran…get to 8.5 miles, then turn around and head back so as not to get lost, then finish off the last few miles on the 3 mile Island loop. The heading back was harder than I expected, the heat was up, I was starting to melt and my water bottle was running low. Dragging my sorry body back through the entrance of the Island, the friendly security guard from a few hours earlier was still on duty and chimed out “You’re my inspiration…yes Ma’am!” (love those polite Southern manners) What a boost that was. I bursted into a huge smile, re-charged my steady speed and finished the last 3 miles with a breezy, happy rhythm. His kind words were just the encouragement I needed. It made me think about how we can all be inspired/encouraged in such simple and natural ways and what a difference it can make to our journey, be that Marathon training or otherwise!
I feel so pleased, because finally I have completed a “Happy Long Run.” For several weeks my long runs have been a tremendous slog, a race training duty and something to endure. After my longest run of 24 miles, I knew that I had to somehow create a mental change. During that 24 miles run, I tripped over twice, which indicated a very poor lack of physical control and was gasping for water near the last few miles. In fact , I was so thirsty that as I passed by a catering truck for a film that was happening near the Heath, I desperately asked for water, which they generously provided me with. Once home and showered, and quite zapped of energy, I set to work creating my Just Giving page for the Marathon. I will be running the London Marathon to raise money for Huntington’s Disease Association, which helps in many practical ways with the challenges of HD. Sadly, this disease has recently touched my family and so this has a personal importance for me. Getting this set and organised has re-charged my motivation and purpose for the task ahead. So now with my training, I can clearly see that there is a point to it beyond the many miles of running.
Joyfully, my recent long run of 20 miles was, dare I say, a great experience. I set off with a spring in my step and a clear and determined head. Rather quickly, I found my rhythm and in no time I was zooming around Regents Park with an ease and confidence that I’ve not experienced much recently. The route was one of my favourites that took me past many London areas where I used to live, such as Primrose Hill & Mornington Crescent and so the happy memories came flooding back. The sun was shining and all was right in the world of running. With a contented smile, after 2 hours and 43 minutes, I was back home feeling fine and elated that my Long Run had become HAPPY.
I love my Birthday Run. This is the one day of the year when I get my favourite gift of all…a run to the Heath with my boys. There are the usual delay tactics: lost trainers, sore toes (sore head)…any excuse to bail out, but I’m pretty determined with this one as it’s just about the only day of the year that they can’t say no. People are always saying to me that I must have a very fit family with all the focus on exercise in my own life. Curiously, it doesn’t actually work like that- just because running is front and centre in my life doesn’t mean that my family is also mad on running. They do like to stay fit and have their own way of doing that, such as gym, cycling, tennis, golf (yes, golf is a sport), however they are not quite as keen on running as myself, which of course I find baffling and yes, I admit it…a little frustrating. When they were younger, I tried all sorts of techniques to get them into running. One summer I started a running jar, where they got a pound coin for each lap of Highgate Woods, with the idea that at the end of the summer they could keep a portion of the money and a portion would go to their chosen sport charity. My intention was that by the end of the summer that they would have established a solid habit of running just because it felt so good! Like most of my hair brain schemes, it didn’t quite work. Often I’d repeat the message, that if you establish a habit of running now, when you are young, then you’ll have it for the rest of your life, which means you’ll have a completely free and fully transportable way of de-stressing and maintaining a strong heart for … ever. However, as a mum, this usually just sounded like a nag to their ears. One day, their “mad for running” gene may gradually surface. For now, I just live for the annual Birthday Run!
Week 9 of my London Marathon Training and my plan includes a Half Marathon Race, so I took on the joyful Brentwood Half in Essex. No problem with the pre-race jitters…because of traffic and parking challenges, we were pretty tight with time and so sprinted to the start of the race with just a few minutes to spare. Once we got moving, I settled into my stride, looking at my watch once at the start and then never again as I tried to run on feel, rather than watch pressure. The course was really lovely, with a buzzy, supportive crowd cheering and offering bowls of jelly babies and oranges along the route, making it a fantastic atmosphere. London Heathside Ladies Captain, Cathy Jeremiah (pictured with me), ran a cracking race and stomped it as the 2nd Lady finisher. Running in a slightly different zone, I placed 24th Lady (but first in my age category!!) with a time of 1:35min- decent, but not a PB. After taking on some gruelling distances with my Marathon Plan, (the previous run in week 8 being a 24 mile run), running a Half Marathon, was a welcome treat!