This has now become a tradition, to look back at the end of the year in a spirit of celebration at all the running I’ve done. As you all know, I didn’t do the running I had planned to in 2015, but once again I’ve had a great year of running.
I’ve run 853 miles, 580 of them before I started treatment in May.
I ran in just four races – Watford half, Palestine 10k and two summer league races in Perivale and Harrow. I did 20 parkruns, most of them at Gunnersbury but also at Bushy Park, Kingston, Wormwood Scrubs, Bath Skyline, Preston Park and Brighton. I’ve marshalled at three races – Ealing half, Ealing 10k and Osterley 10k and volunteered at parkrun. Almost all of my running has been in and around Ealing, but I managed runs in North Devon, Herefordshire and Bath while we were on holiday in the summer, and some in Brighton this Christmas. I’ve had writing about running published on the Guardian running blog and in Like the Wind magazine. And I won the club championship prize for my age group in 2014/15 season, just before I started chemotherapy.
Some runs that stand out:
- On my last long run before the Palestine marathon in March, I fell in Richmond Park about nine miles into the run. I landed flat on my face and banged my knee really hard, but I needed to do 16 miles that day so I decided to run home. At Kew Bridge I was in so much pain that I rang Jonny to ask him to pick me up, at which point my phone ran out of battery, so I had to hobble the final two miles. I ended up having to withdraw from both the Palestine marathon and London which felt catastrophic at the time, but in the wider context of this year seems really insignificant now.
- I still went to Palestine and ran the 10k instead, a chaotic, joyful, defiant celebration of life that still makes me smile when I think about it.
- My last run to work before I started treatment felt really poignant as I headed into the unknown of chemotherapy. I took photos as I ran, wanting to savour every moment and ran past the Household Cavalry parading in Hyde Park.
- I joined Tracey Melville for her 100th parkrun in September which I found really emotional, as she had treatment for cancer last year. I burst into tears as I crossed the line, and caused havoc with the tokens.
- My runs to chemo were so life-giving, from the second sorrowful one with Lucy to the final one that was such a celebration. Running to chemo meant that instead of dreading the treatment, I looked forward to the run. It meant that I arrived at the hospital in my trainers and on my terms. I’m so grateful to all the people who ran with me.
- On Monday I went out for a run while it was still dark, down to Brighton seafront and along towards Hove. There was a spectacular sunrise and a strong wind to battle against on the way home. It wasn’t a particularly remarkable run, but it was the first time I’ve done an early morning run since my op in October. I’m back.
2014 was a year of PBs and I had a sense that it would be the year that I peaked. This year has not been about running faster or running further, but about running being a source of life, healing and normality, both in the actual running I’ve done but also in the amazing community of running friends who have sustained and encouraged me over the last few months.
Rather than setting myself loads of running goals for next year, I’ll wait to see how it unfolds. I’ve deferred my London Good for Age place until 2017. I would love to do another marathon and try that ultra but I don’t want to push myself to do too much too soon. Next year will be about running in beautiful places and savouring every moment.