I have had such a great year of running.
I ran 1728 miles including two marathons – Palestine and Chester; three half marathons – Brighton, Leith Hill and Grand Union; two 10ks – Serpentine New Year and Ealing; four cross country – Parliament Hill, Royston, Cheshunt and Watford; two 10 miles – Towpath Ten and Cabbage Patch; one leg of the Welsh Castles Relay and a handful of parkruns, Ealing miles and a single summer league race.
It’s been a year of PBs in every distance I’ve run, starting on 1 January last year with a sub 50 10k in Hyde Park after drinking far too much the night before, and ending on 13 December with a 5k PB at Northala Fields parkrun after several attempts. Here they are:
Mile – 6:58 – Ealing Mile club championships on 3 September
5k – 23:14 – Northala Fields parkrun on 13 December
5 miles – 38:20 – Dulwich Park Summer League on 1 June
10k – 49.11 – Serpentine New Year 10k on 1 January
10 miles – 1:20:08 – Cabbage Patch 10 on 19 October
Half marathon – 1:46:15 – Brighton half on 16 February
Marathon – 3:58:05 in Palestine on 11 April, followed by 3:50:14 in Chester on 5 October
Most of my running has been around Ealing, along the Thames, or along the Uxbridge Road and through Hyde Park to work but I’ve also run in Hannover, Bethlehem, North Devon, Pembrokeshire, Bath and in random places where I’ve stayed overnight for work. Some runs that stand out:
- Liverpool in December – I stayed here overnight after being in Bradford one day and heading to Daresbury the next. I went out in the evening rather than getting up really early, but my planned route along the docks felt unsafe in the dark so I headed into the city. And it suddenly started pouring with rain and blowing a gale. It was one of those moments when you have to surrender to getting completely soaked and rather than huddling under an umbrella and trying to avoid the rain, I was running head up, arms outstretched, laughing like a loon and feeling invincible!
- Camborne in September – Another overnight stay for work and I planned out a route along some roads. On the way, I saw a footpath so took a detour and ended up running through woods as the sun came up, accompanied by birdsong and a deep sense of peace.
- Landshipping to Barafundle Bay in August – Pembrokeshire was a great place to run although very hilly. I arranged to meet Jonny at a beach and wrote myself a very scrappy set of directions which somehow got me there. There’s something very pleasing about discovering a route on foot that makes you engage much more fully with the landscape.
- Welsh Castles Relay in June – The standard of running in Welsh Castles is much higher than most races so this was a very different experience, of desperately trying not to come last! This was a fantastic weekend with my running club. Full write-up here.
- Palestine marathon in April – I spent six hours at Tel Aviv airport when my Muslim friend Asad was detained on the way in to Israel, and then the night before the race I went back to the airport to meet a friend who had had a really unpleasant experience travelling as a single female from London. It was a tiny taste of the limits on travel that Palestinians face every day but it made me determined to run a good race. Write-up for my running club here. This got me my good-for-age place in London next year. I’m going back in 2015 with just one goal this time – to run all the way and not let the hills defeat me.
- Chester marathon in October – I sprained my ankle quite badly three weeks before the race, and then again ten days later. With my head in full catastrophe mode, this was the end of my running career but Abby from Move Physio kept me grounded and I ran with my ankle well strapped up. I was delighted with a PB of course, but at the same time really annoyed with the 14 seconds over 3:50. My sister Mandy did the metric marathon, and I loved spending the weekend with her.
- Tilgate parkrun – I went to Worth Abbey in December for a few days to think about my Dad dying last year. On the Saturday I did this local parkrun, having dithered about whether I should. I didn’t want running to be an excuse to stop me attending to the grief, but actually it was the opposite. There was an incredibly thick frost, with bright sunshine and a mist hovering over the lake. There was something about the beauty of the setting and the community of runners that left me in tears at the end, savouring the moment.
I am so grateful for this gift of running which gives me such a sense of physical, mental and spiritual well-being. I feel happier in my skin approaching my 50th birthday than at any other time in my life. I don’t want to take it for granted and with my ankle injury in the autumn and a niggling foot pain going into the new year, I know it won’t last forever. I think this will be the year that I peak in terms of speed, but there are so many more places and ways to run I plan to keep going as long as I can.