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For the eighth consecutive year, here is my review of the running, swimming and cycling I’ve done, in the usual spirit of gratitude and celebration. In this strange year, exercise has been my constant, my space to process what’s happening, the untangler of anxiety. I’ve missed running and cycling with other people, both the challenge and the company; cancelled events far outweigh those I actually did. This has been the year of virtual races, which although welcome are rubbish compared to the real thing. My miles have been local rather than exploring new places. But exercise has kept me well this year and has been my slightly obsessive priority whatever else has been happening or has been forbidden. I’ve found new routes close to home, created new habits, walked a marathon and swam my longest distance ever.

Running
I ran 1360 miles this year, ending with a 5k round a very frosty Osterley park with my friend Anna. In the eleven weeks before the first lockdown, I fitted in six new parkruns – at Raphael, Panshanger, Brockwell, Penrith, Leamington and Ifield Mill Pond – did cross country at Ally Pally and Trent Park, ran the Harrow Hill 10k and the Wokingham Half. That was normal. It now feels alarmingly frenetic.

Virtual races since then included all the Summer League events, Ealing Half Marathon and Queen of the Suburbs challenge, and the Osterley 10k.

Memorable runs:
Ullswater, on our trip to the Lakes in February
– runs from Prospect Wood when we camped there in the summer
– running along the River Wye
– the river run which I have done most weeks – down to Kew Bridge, along Strand-on-the-Green to Chiswick Bridge and back along the south side of the river
– runs through Brent River Park, including this half marathon route

Cycling
I cycled just over 2500 miles this year, highest mileage ever, and most of it in London. In early lockdown, I did phantom commutes to work from home, cycling into Hyde Park and back again, just so I didn’t sit indoors all day. I have a new habit now of cycling rather than taking the tube which I hope will stick, whether that’s to work or meet friends, for appointments or classes, rain or shine.

Memorable rides:
cycling to the wood which I’ve done a few times
– a glorious ride through deserted London in lockdown
– visiting the London mural festival
– my 100k solo ride, for the Strava badge
– my New Year’s Eve solo ride across London, which just happened to go past my sister’s house in Horndon-on-the-Hill. Thank goodness for unlimited exercise in Tier 4.

Swimming
I swam just under 60k this year, and would have done more if the pools hadn’t kept closing. I went to Heron Lake lots over the summer, and am very grateful that they made it safe for us to swim there. I did the Dock2Dock 5k in September and it took me so long I had swimming lessons afterwards to try and improve my stroke. Having a weekly lesson to cycle to was a great reminder of what normal used to be like. I had to unlearn my stroke first so went from doing 5k to not managing more than a length without stopping, but I think I’m getting there. I am in awe of the cold water swimmers who keep going all year round and tell myself that if I lived nearer a lido or a lake I would join them – maybe one year I will find out if that’s true.

That marathon walk
In August, Harry and I walked from just outside Whitstable to Canterbury for Amos Trust’s Just Walk Again event. 26.2 miles of great conversation and fabulous company. A day that lightened my heart and destroyed my big toe nail.

Who knows what will happen next year? This is not a time for making plans, but I have signed up for the Dock2Dock 5k next September and I think I may have a place in the York Marathon next October, deferred from this year. As long as I can keep running early, cycling often and swimming when it’s allowed I’ll be happy.

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