When I turned 40, I decided to start going for little jogs while the Cub was at nursery. I was never going to race, only to make the dog walk a bit faster. At 41 I found myself completing my first half marathon. There have been certain occurrences in my life when I have looked in the mirror afterwards and seen me, but a me that is slightly different to the me that was looking out at me the day before. The half marathon was one of them.
People expressed surprise that I wanted to carry on, after this massive achievement but to me it was a no-brainer. I am far from being a natural athlete – whatever one of those actually looks like – and the effort that went into running 13.1 miles was massive. I had gone from being someone who enjoyed running one mile but really struggled to run three, to someone who could easily run a ten k (but still really struggled to run half a marathon). There was no way in the world that I was going to let that considerable effort go to waste. Plus, I have become fond of my legs of steel. I have learned that size, shape or age need be no barrier to athleticism.
I still look at my achievement in a kind of bemused fashion – did I really do that? Can I really do that again? Who? Little old me with a big bum and small feet made for use in that order? Do I really own two pairs of running trainers, designed for different surfaces, and look upon their muddy appearance with pride and not horror? Do I really own proper runners gear and not feel self-concious plodding muddily along in leggings and a backpack?
In my post-race high I agreed to run the Paris Marathon but after a nightmarish virtual half in November (cold, wet, very slow, could not stop shivering for hours) I backed out of that, for the time being. Trying to earn a small living to fit around school hours and marathon training are not mutually compatible activities until I can increase my speed quite a lot.
So, me and crazy running sis are doing it all again, this time on mother’s day, at Silverstone. Whilst I thought I had planned a long slow gradual training schedule, this winter has brought so many germs into my body that I find myself rushing the training again. I’d got up to my comfort zone of six and a half, and pushed it to eight yesterday. I’ve got two weeks of training now to reach 11 (I wanted to reach 12), I have a raging sore throat and probably should not be running. I have read, today, that honey and turmeric might help to boost my immunity some more (thanks to Sanctuary Spa blog!), so I’ll add this to my night time casein shake and battle on*.
*NOTE ADDED: Do NOT try this at home folks. Honey and turmeric are not a good mix in a vanilla drink. Bad idea. I’ve ordered turmeric capsules off ebay instead.
Running and being a single mum have taught me many things, one of which is that I can keep on keeping on even when I have reached the point of giving up. It’s not easy, or pain free. I often need a hug. But I can do it. And I will.
If you’d like to donate to the charity Sparks, the Cullen sister’s Just Giving page is here. Here is a little bit of information about this amazing charity:
We fund life-saving medical research into conditions affecting babies, children and mums-to-be. We aim to improve the quality of life for children and families affected by serious illness or disability today, whilst seeking ways to better diagnose, treat and prevent these conditions in the future.