The toughest run

When I decided to cycle across America I knew I’d need plenty of time to fundraise, plan logistics, and get fit. I gave myself two years, setting off in Spring 2020. Naturally, I needed something to keep momentum going and for some reason I decided that running a marathon would be that thing. I’m delighted to have been offered a place at the London Marathon with the MS Society and look forward to what I am sure will be an amazing event. I’ve already come so far in my running since my first Parkrun back in January. How hard can a marathon be, right?

It turns out that running is really hard. When you’re cycling you can reduce your effort to have a breather and still keep moving. And every time you go down hill you get a break. And at traffic lights you get a break. When you’re running, if you stop running you just… stop. Sure, there have been good moments but it’s safe to say that I’m never going to be a professional runner.

Me running on a wet road with clearly drenched shorts

Things all came to a bit of a head when I did the 10 mile race in York earlier this month. It was just bloody tough. It was raining heavily and I was soaked through before I started. Because of the rain there weren’t many people cheering the runners on. I had to carry my glasses as I couldn’t see with them on. I’d had a few weeks off running after some long weeks at work and then a week and a half of flu. I was struggling by the 7 mile mark both with a large blister on the sole of my foot. I was also running out of energy – this is my longest run to date and I was “hitting the wall”. I had to walk for a while, but that meant I lost body heat. Luckily there were some lovely people lining the route with jelly babies and other sweets that gave me the energy to carry on. I then met another walker called Tory and we whiled away the last mile. I then ran (galloped) the last few hundred metres, limp-running my way to the foil blanket and a massage that was not just relaxing but warming. And then I had to cycle a few miles home in my wet clothes! My thoughts on the run are summed up pretty well in this photo, perfectly timed to catch the moment I landed on my blister.

Me landing on my blister with a large grimace on my face

A special apology to Tom, who’s smiling photo will forever be ruined by my face.

I guess what I’m struggling with is that my ultimate aim – cycling across America – is so massive that running a marathon for one day doesn’t seem to hard. I never thought I’d be saying that I’m running a marathon as a warm up or a side show. And yet even now I’m aware that most of my planning over the next year needs to be on the bike ride – on the logistics, the speaking tour, the fundraising. I’m more worried about the awkwardness of asking people to donate twice than I am about hitting my marathon fundraising target (£2000). I’m even thinking about doing it in costume to make it harder for myself!

So – I’m super excited about getting stuck into marathon training, sharing my journey with you, and crossing the finish line. It’s going to be an amazing feeling. But I know I’m going to have to work hard to stop my mental focus skipping past the marathon. Please do keep in touch and keep up the amazing support that so many of you have already given me. If you could save a few pennies to pop towards my sponsorship when my page is launched that would be truly marvellous. Oh – and please join me in hoping that it doesn’t rain for the London Marathon!

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