OK, perhaps that’s a slight exaggeration but it is true to say that my ‘marathon journey’ will be taking me to new distances and levels of endurance that I’ve not had to square up to in my running career to date.
I used to run as a kid. My brother was into it seriously at club level, and I would tag along. I did my fair share of fun runs, including the wonderful Sutton event in my then home town which, back in the day, was a challenging 11.5 miles. It’s now the Great Midlands Fun Run and the course has been reduced to 8.5, but it’s still highly recommended.
But by the time I left school then running too had gone – presumably a common story! I’ve never really been a sporty person. I enjoy the odd game of golf, I like to get out on my bike now and again and I adore motor racing, but that’s about it.
Fast forward to 2011 and I had just started a new job. A team had entered a 10 mile charity bike ride across the Severn Valley (hills a plenty!) and I offered to join in. Not wanting to disgrace myself, I thought I’d better get some practice miles in both on the bike and on foot.
My first run in I don’t know how many years was a shocker. A two mile route – one mile running, the other walking and wheezing. This gradually increased to around three, but to be honest it wasn’t really happening and neither was I enjoying it much.
But the bike ride itself was a blast, and hugely successful for the charity. We got some local publicity and featured in a staff news article which only added to the experience. With that under my belt I went away and hatched a plan for a three-part fundraising challenge for the following year – an 8 mile fun run (the aforementioned Great Midlands event), a 20 mile bike ride and my first ever half marathon (the Great Birmingham Run).
And it was in spring 2012 that I started to take running seriously as part of my training for this charity challenge. It proved to be a fantastic motivator – having three tough but ultimately achievable events to work towards, while raising money for a worthy cause. If we’re going to use the rather clichéd but often quoted expression “the running bug” then spring 2012 is when I got infected!
Since then I’ve taken part in five half marathon events – Birmingham three times and Stafford twice. I’ve left the bike in the garage for now and I’m concentrating on my running. I’ve tracked progress through a GPS watch and Garmin Connect so I can see the improvement right there in front of me in black and white.
I’ve taken 12 minutes off my half marathon PB in two years (now at 1hr 51) and ran up to 16 miles in training to try and work out if I could manage to take on more distance.
There’s a friend of mine – a former colleague – who is into triathlons, ultra marathons and other such crazy endurance events. I admire his achievements enormously. He would always joke after I’d completed a half that the lure of the full marathon was calling and it was only a matter of time before I took one on.
Never! Not a chance. I know my limits. I’m not interested.
So why then have I now entered the 2015 Virgin Money London Marathon…?
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