The off-roadie attempts another road marathon

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Simone Dumergue

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The off-roadie attempts another road marathon

I was the fat, academic kid at school. My brothers were the athletics superstars, winning national titles in track and field. I on the other hand was always picked last for school teams, dreaded having to get changed for PE and became expert in developing excuses for getting out of sports day. I think the low point was at the age of 11 during an inter-school athletics competition where I was so far behind everyone else in the 1500m that I  dropped out on the home stretch, veering off the track in the hope I could use the crowds to swallow me and the accompanying humiliation up whole.

Instead I learnt a powerful life lesson that day. One should never quit. Quitting is far worse  than coming last.

I’ve always had a commitment to fitness however and over the years a bit of running crept into the mix. I dabbled in the odd half marathon between 1997 and 2003, but it was a fleeting flirtation and never took a central role in my life.

Then 2009 loomed. I was about to turn 40 and I had secretly harboured the urge to run a full marathon. The London no less.  I trained hard, I ran it and I loved it. I didn’t stop, I didn’t quit and I didn’t finish last. I crossed the line in 4:38:58. And felt the biggest sense of achievement and personal satisfaction in my life. And the cold beer in the pub afterwards was the best ever...

My ‘once in a lifetime’ achievement was no longer that. Running had become a vital part of my life. Running  had become my touchstone,  my ‘release’, my time for me. And a damn good antidote to my love of wine and cheese J

I entered the ballot for 2010, never expecting to get a place. But I did! This time I trained harder. I trained with a real sense of purpose. Now I no longer wanted to ‘just get around’. I wanted to run faster. I wanted to go sub 4. But then the plague of injuries hit me and I subjected the entire Real Buzz community to the saga that became the Orthotic Diaries. Say no more!!

But I kept at it, resting when I needed to, seeking physio and hanging in there. At the same time, I was unemployed, struggling to find work and feeling homesick for my native New Zealand. When I was in a big black hole, running would pull me out of it and give me a sense of purpose and achievement.

I ran London 2010 and once again I didn’t stop, I didn’t quit and I shaved 14 minutes off my time, coming in at 4:24:24.

That feeling of the medal going around the neck felt just as good the second time around. And so did the taste of that cold beer in the pub afterwards.

A third marathon followed in 2012 when I ran Brighton. It was a totally different experience to London. Not as exciting, but much easier to run without feeling penned in and I was delighted to achieve a PB of 4:14.

Later that year  plucked up the courage to join a running club and it has become a huge part of my life. I joined the off-road contingent and we meet every Wednesday night at a pub where we start and finish. 10km on average is covered on each run and we bound through mud, across fields, up and down hills, and every other off-road terrain in between. We run year round and I love the silliness and camaraderie of tearing around in the woods in the dark with our head torches, or terrifying the local farmer as a group of us slink past their window in the dark before crossing through the cow field.

I've kept entering the ballot for the last five years to get another London place and managed to land one for 2015. I'm hugely excited but also trying to get my head sorted for running on the road again. I just love that mud and madness of off-roading, but I crave the thrill of the London streets on VLM day.

So, join my journey as this off-roadie tries to become a road runner again!

 

 

 

 

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