Tuesday, 23 March 2010

1. Run 5 Different Marathons - Loch Ness

Once my place was confirmed I drew up a training schedule - I had a vague idea of the sort of mileage I needed to be aiming for and knew all about increasing your mileage slowly to reduce the risk of injury. However I soon realised that 5 months wasn't nearly long enough to get fit and the early part of my training schedule was excelerated much more quickly than the experts advised.
On 4th May my Facebook status read "Jane ..... has just registered to run in Loch Ness Marathon...and shes not drunk, or Scottish!" The replies typically ranged from "Are you Mad?" to "Is this a myth or a real marathon?"
Over the next few months I got up at 5 most mornings so that I could fit in a run before going to work - I saw some odd sights on those runs; I regularily met giant muscle-bound men running uphill (backwards) in our local park (they turned out to be boxers out cicuit-training), during the height of the summer it became normal to come across drunks who had spent the night sleeping rough, sometimes the odd couple who hadn't been able to "find a room", once I watched two drunk middle-aged women physically fighting in the street, drunk men returning home on a Sunday morning (finding themselves locked out), I saw police raids on the crack houses in the neighbourhood and witnessed dozens of arrests - nobody paid me any attention, except the occassional bin man! I limped on through a range of minor injuries and fretted about how I was going to get rid of any excess fluid during the race itself. Once my friends realised I was serious they stopped mocking me and became genuinely encouraging. One close friend was a veteran marathon runner - I was in daily contact with him, seeking re-assurance that I wasn't completely bonkers - on reflection perhaps he wasn't the best judge of that. I lost 17lbs (dropping 2 jean sizes) but was eating like a horse!
I arrived in Inverness the day before the marathon - it was cold, wet and windy, with raindrops the size of bullets, everyone assured me the the weather forecast for the next day was promising. I slept fitfully that night but I was up and ready long before the wake up call that I had booked. The day was beautifully clear and freezing. Following a disasterous mix-up with the buses we were all eventually transported to the starting point at the far end of the Loch, the start had been delayed by an hour. Waiting up there (in the cold) was nerve racking, I looked at all those extremely fit people and wondered what the hell I was doing there. A band of young pipers standing nearby nervously began tuning up, then they were marching through the crowd, a loud cheer went up and we were off. The months of training were over, I was running my first marathon. I had trained on the polluted grim streets of South Norwood, Loch Ness was clear and spectacular, my lungs almost burst with the purity of the air I was breathing! I was going well, I'd run the first 17 miles in under 3 hours, when a thumping pain in my back warned me that I hadn't taken enough fluid during the early stages of the run and it was getting hotter. I reached the bottom of a long steep climb and started walking to the next water point - I refuelled then slowly started running again. The next 6 miles were the longest I have ever run, I don't know how I made it into the stadium - I could hear my friend yelling "Come on Jane" and then it was all over - I wanted burst into tears! I said something very rude, grabbed a banana and some biscuits and stuffed them into my mouth with unashamed greed. When I went to bed that night it took me an age to fall asleep, I was re-living every painful step, I had done it - I had run my first marathon.

1. Run 5 different marathons

How can someone not enjoy running? Look at the sheer joy on a toddlers face as they break into a staggering trot and you'll realise its our natural state! I was introduced to cross-country at boarding school, (my theory is that they forced us do it to surpress our libidos - running and bromide). Older kids were suspended with monotonous regularity for following their natural urges, so maybe they weren't such great surpressants.
When I left school I stopped running and went on long walks instead; I walked the Cornish coastline when I was 19.
In my early 20s I moved to Hong Kong - I had a mind-numbingly boring clerical job with the Royal Hong Kong Police and discovered that you got time off work for sports. Every other Wednesday Police/Joint Services Orienteering events were held - armed with a compass, map and whistle you dashed around the country side trying to locate check points. It was always hot and humid, and it was normal to end up shredded to ribbons because you invariably got lost and spent hours scrambling through thick undergrowth - the parties afterwards were great though! From there I started entering cross country events and discovered the more I ran the better I got, the more time I got off work for training - I once even set a course record for a 12km Road Race!

I took a break from running to have babies and when my youngest was a year old I took it up again. For the next 8 years I ran most days, but never competively again, then when we left Hong Kong to live in Cape Town I stopped running and climbed Table Mountain, with our dogs, instead.
We came to the UK in 1998 and moved to a small village in rural Surrey, the dogs had come with us, (a border collie and a Rhodesian ridgeback)they both needed huge amounts of regular exercise so I took up cross country running again and between the 3 of us we covered miles and miles!
In 2009 I started writing to an old school friend who said something about making sure you fulfilled all of your ambitions blah blah...I was watching the London Marathon on TV that morning and it just clicked - I had always wanted to run a marathon and now I had time on my hands to train. I looked up marathons in the UK and there it was - The Loch Ness Marathon 4th October, plenty of time to train! I signed up and on the 28th April I had an e-mail confirming that I had been allocated a place.....

Things To Do Before My Children Have Me Committed

One of the blogs I follow is that of a young man who has compiled a list of 100 things to do before he Jumps the Hedge - my list is much shorter (less time available) and more modest but here are things I hope to achieve before my children decide to have me committed...I intend to record these achievements under this blog.

1. Run 5 different marathons: This used to be run a marathon but last year, when I sat down and gave this list some serious thought I signed up for my first marathon - 4th October 2009 I ran the Loch Ness Marathon and now I'm hooked.
Loch Ness - 4th October 2009 (5 hours 20 minutes)
Brighton - 18th April 2010 (4 hours 45 minutes)

2. Complete the Three Peaks: I don't think I could do this in the "Challenge" time of 24 hours but I would like to be able to say that I have climbed these mountains, when I lived in Cape Town I climbed Table Mountain every day - walking my dogs - and I really did enjoy that.
3. Watch Wales play at the Millenium Stadium: Self-explanatory.
13th August 2011 Wales vs England 19 - 9.
4. Re-enact this advert:
Margate - 22nd January 2011
5. Learn how to make Baked Alaska: This sounds a little dull and I'm not even sure how fashionable a Baked Alaska is as a dessert now-a-days but I STILL love it .
6. Walk or Run Hadrians Wall: This is a relatively new ambition but the more I read about it the keener I am to do it.
7. Walk from Lands End to John O'Groats: In 1977 I walked the coastline of Cornwall and this walk has been an ambition of mine since then.
8. Hand quilt a Quilt: Not the most exciting thing in the world but I would have such a tremendous sense of achievement completing one.
9. Learn how to Belly Dance: This was first said as a joke, when I walked past a place giving classes, but the more I think about it the more fun it seems.
10. Read every Booker Prize Winner: Time to educate myself!
Staying On - Paul Scott (Oct 2011)
Hotel Du lac - Anita Brookner (Dec 2011)