It’s now March, and it’s four weeks until the Brighton Marathon. The big day is Sunday April 6th. In the main, l love doing the training. I am now into the ‘longest run’ weeks of doing 20 miles for my long weekly run.
This marathon escapade started back in November, with my friend Alison Chisnell asking me to run the Brighton event with her. As I wrote previously, I’d had no thoughts of ever running that far, but I found myself saying yes to Alison. That taught me the lesson of being open minded. Have you ever had a situation like that, where you always swore you wouldn’t do something/didn’t like something, and then suddenly found yourself doing a complete turnaround?
I’ve been very grateful to Alison for holding open that door into the 5 month commitment and adventure of marathon training. Stepping through the door has led to other possibilities. I have discovered that I love off road running, and I ran my first trail 1/2 marathon recently, up in the North York Moors. I surprised myself with the position I finished in. Also, I’ve just done a week long winter mountain skills course in the Cairngorms. It is something that I have wanted to do for years, but I always feared I wasn’t fit enough to tramp about up mountains in the snow. Those worries were laid to rest, as I got nicknamed Flora-the-Machine. I’m now armed and dangerous with ice axe and crampons! Seriously though, for anyone thinking about doing a running event, such as a half marathon or marathon, I have learnt that the event isn’t the important thing. The training is what matters, and doing it isn’t an end in itself. Getting fit opens doors to do other things in your life. Whether it be having more energy and strength to leap about with your children, or just cope with daily life, or trying out new activities. Put the work in and I’m sure you will reap the rewards.
It’s a year on since I started out on the length of Britain walk. That was the first door I opened, really, as Alison I’m sure wouldn’t have asked me to run 26 miles with her if I wasn’t in reasonable nick. I look back with such joy on those special special months of walking through this beautiful country. When I travel around now, whether by train or car, I often cross my route, and it makes me happy. One question I have been asked more than any other, and it is always asked by women, is ‘weren’t you lonely?’ [when walking]. Followed up often by ‘weren’t you frightened?’. My answer is that I’ve never felt less alone in my life. Much of that was due to having this blog. So many people – family, dear friends, acquaintances, colleagues, ex colleagues I’d not seen in years – contacted me, commented, sponsored me, emailed me, texted. It was wonderful. And whilst walking, although I stuck to hills and paths as much as possible, there were plenty of people around – whether it be other walkers, or just passers by when I sat in a town or village on a bench eating a snack. I found myself in a different mindset to my normal life; I had more time and felt much more open. So I chatted to people. Do you know what, I loved it. People are ever so nice, and interesting. And I’ve kept on doing it since. So, no, I wasn’t lonely. There is no need to be lonely. Yes, I mainly walked alone, but that’s a great thing. It gave time and space to look and SEE what was around me.
Going back to those questions: ‘were you frightened?’ What would I be frightened of? It is more dangerous going out in a city centre, late on a Friday night. I do feel nervous, before doing a long day’s walking in remote hills, but there is no logical reason to be afraid when out walking. I feel really strongly that many women limit themselves, keep doors to adventures and great happiness firmly closed, because we are somehow conditioned to be careful and fearful. I think it’s absolutely ok to be scared, but the important thing is to embrace that, and go out and have an adventure. (By ‘adventure’, I mean it might be a 2 hour walk up your local hill, or a short bike ride, not necessarily a week long hike). Open the door, and see what happens.
Back to the Brighton Marathon. Alison and I are raising money for two charities. Alison is fundraising for Mind, the mental health charity, and I’m fundraising for the MS Society. I’d like to say a huge thank you to the very generous people who have sponsored me thus far: Diana, Sophie, Jill, Oliver, Richard, Michele & Jeremy, Mel & Bernadette, Ian, Cathy, Perry & Theresa, Julie, Dawn, Grant, Anthony, Meg, Mary, Lucy, Dawn and Shona. Several of you have been super kind and sponsored both me AND Alison. I’ve written it before, but it truly is like a crowd of people standing cheering at the side of the road when I’m running along, doing my training. An even bigger crowd would of course be hugely appreciated, so if you’d like to sponsor either of us (it’s not compulsory to do both!) then please click here.
NB Alison has an excellent blog, where you can read all about her marathon training, including our latest joint escapade in Kent. She is one determined lady, and the more I get to know her, the more I admire her.