My 2018 calendar is looking a little too similar to my perennially overflowing laundry basket - full to toppling and looking like an impossible task, but then you take it a little at a time, you wash and you dry, you fold and you put away, patting it down, making sure the folds are perfect and ready for the next wearing. And then it's done and you sit down for an ice cold pint.
After the latest edition of the realbuzz POTY whereby in the midst of all those unbelievable performances someone very graciously remembered my joy and one beautiful bottle of Chicago microbrew at the top of Snowdon and all that preceded it, I went back through my brain's archives to source which moment of 2017 I am most proud of. And it only came to me during today's effort, as the old iPod threw me a memory yet again...
"Yes, there were times I'm sure you knew
When I bit off more than I could chew
But through it all, when there was doubt,
I ate it up and spit it out
I faced it all and I stood tall
I did it (sideeeeeewayyyyyyyyyyys)!"
Those Yorkshire three peaks and the old Chuckle Crew. That first moment of that merry band of Others attempting to pour salt on my wings. I shook it off hard then and I flew farther than even I thought I could. Because that day I did in fact doubt myself. I did doubt my ability. And I very nearly believed them - believed that I couldn't do it, that I wasn't strong enough. And then I found myself alone and said aloud the one word that changed everything.
I actually think that moment, that success, became even more relevant after all the redemption which followed it. Those beautiful back to back races in Richmond. The suffering and PB at the end of my Race for Life marathon. To finally set foot on top of Snowdon after the bitter disappointment two months prior. With friends. With my tribe. With you. Thank you.
Indeed, I had always known I could do it. And so did all of you. And you reminded me of it again and again. It's been one hell of a year. And so thanks to the inner strength that year has gifted me, I have boldly (crazily?) teed up the next:
4 March - The Big Half, London
17 March - Ashridge Boundary Run
15 April - Brighton Marathon
15 July - Race to the Stones second half 50k
1 Sept - Trek Fest Peak District 50k
7 October - Chicago Marathon
27 October - Snowdonia Marathon
I'm somewhat equally choked up and utterly freaked out looking at that list. Largely because I have just recovered from a spell of not wanting to run even to the shops, let alone any measurable distance. It was pretty alarming to be fair, thinking about what I've got on the list and not really wanting to do any of it.
But it's better to burn out than fade away.
"I'm tired," said I. "My hip hurts. My brain hurts. What's the point of all of it?"
And then I got a ballot place for Chicago again. Good lord, that was unexpected! Oh the joy beyond measure!!! Redemption part deux!!! HaHAH! I want to email that silly cow and explain once again what a foam roller does...
And so my mental discussion was short and sweet, taking part entirely on the platform at Tottenham Hale station and the subsequent train home "...look at the agenda already! Do I, don't I, do I...ok I will, what the hell. There's pizza there, and I need to visit Dad's grave, and hug friends, and...and..."
And thereafter, dodgy hip flexor or not, I have gone off once again into the abyss...erm...'new regime' this time titled: 'Mileage Matters'. That mileage which has clearly been lacking from the past because in that past, every time I felt pain great enough to threaten injury I'd have a rest day. And there is where I think I've finally registered the difference between pain and discomfort. You can't run? Walk, you numpty. You run / walk anyway right? Miles miles miles (shut up) miles miles miles and after that do some more miles...
At present, my right hip is totally playing up. Last year with the same I'd have umpteen rest days and hope for the best. But 2018 is a whole new kettle of fish. Mileage Matters. Go out. Shut up, just go. Run, jog, walk, crawl, blooming log roll if I have to, but I will set the weekly mileage and go out and cover it unless my femur is poking through my flesh and I'm leaving a trail of red down the pavement.
Go go go.
I have also registered that there is something to be learned from all those years of dancing and teaching dance, and I only discovered it when looking up squat variations (as you do). I absolutely HATE squats and actually think they're one of the reasons I'm having hip drama. But I sure don't mind pliés in second position. Which is basically a sumo squat. So into the rota they go, and herewith the return of Big Booty Bertha and her Magical Mystery Marathon tour. Ok, maybe more like the Unbelievable Uber-crazy Ultra tour? Or maybe I should just call it 'Pain and Glory'. Yes, yes, that's about it.
On paper it looks like total madness. What the hell am I about to do?
I'm about to BE.
As I've pondered all this, I realize that I've never in my life felt like I've really belonged anywhere. I've always felt slightly unglued, slightly lost. But it occurs to me that this running lark? This tribe? This thing called 'Buzzers'?
Well lo and behold, in my heart it looks like home.
Here's to a beautiful year and here's to each and every one of you on this forum. Go grab that brass ring. Smash even your greatest of all expectations. Buckle up and enjoy the ride. Let that wind in your hair blow the past behind you and watch the road ahead.
It's beautiful out there.
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