Those of you that know me will know that I have long had a love/hate relationship with running. I was actually a sprinter in my youth but then many years of doing not much exercise other than dancing at clubs meant my running ability severely suffered. Roll on to 2002, I had just come back from nearly 2 years of travelling and was out of work. I was at the gym one day and heard an advert for charity places in the London Marathon. I thought, why not? A few months later and I dragged myself round 26.2 miles in just (and I mean just) under 5 hours. Never again I said 😀
After that I did bits of running, nothing serious although I did enter a couple of half marathons and did the Great North Run in 2010. I never particularly enjoyed it, I just did it as a bit of a challenge and to keep my weight down but I certainly never experienced that runner’s high that people talk about. Then, at the beginning of 2011, I managed to slip a disc onto my cauda equina nerve and ended up having emergency spinal surgery. Before I went for surgery I was told that I could potentially lose the use of my right leg, my bladder, bowel and sexual organs. Nice. Needless to say when I came round from the procedure with nothing more than a little nerve damage in my right leg I was pretty ecstatic. I decided to spend the year doing some challenges. First I got onto the Ogwen Valley mountain rescue team. Then I ran the Bristol 10k and the Swanage half marathon. The next challenge was walking the Haute Route from Chamonix to Zermatt solo and then, once I got back, running the Great North Run again and finishing with the Liverpool Marathon (only just, and I mean just, beating my London 2002 time). That was a big year 😉
But still there was no love for running. It was something I endured rather than enjoyed. A means to an end. I spent the next few years focusing on my road cycling, entering a number of cycling sportives. Unfortunately my back wasn’t a fan. I needed something different. In 2016 I decided to enter my first triathlon, the Sandman at Newborough, on Anglesey. This meant I had to go back to running
A friend of mine, Kate, had posted about someone she knew who had taken on an immense challenge. Yvie was running solo from Lands End to John O’Groats and back again, raising money and awareness for mental health after being diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder. You can see her TED talk about it here. I started to follow her endeavours. When I felt shit out on a run I would think, ‘at least I’m not Yvie. At least I’m not battling along by myself alongside a busy road in the rain knowing I still have hundreds of miles to go’. I had no excuse to moan. After all I was just doing a 10k around Newborough Forest!
Since then I have got better at running. And I’ve started to enjoy it more. I actually call myself a runner now which is a big step forward. I have even experienced that runner’s high that was so elusive to me. This last year I have really focused on my running and, after having some physiological tests done that show I’m better at endurance than speed, I have changed my goals. I have a plan for next year. And I want to do it to honour Yvie. Since running LEJOGLE (as she affectionately named her epic achievement) Yvie has developed ME. You can read about her battle here. ME is a crippling, debilitating and very misunderstood chronic condition. It is under-researched and under-funded and I want to help.
My plan. The Wales Coast Path. 1400km. North to South. In stages. It’s going to happen. Starting January 2020. 1st January 2020 to be precise 🙂
I’m no long distance runner. As I’ve said, the furthest I’ve run in the past is a marathon and the last one of those was 8 years ago! I don’t like running on road particularly and I’m not very good at running uphill. Luckily most of the coastal path is off-road although there are long sections of tarmac. There are most definitely hills and there is definitely long distance. Multiple days of long distance. Stage 1 is Chester to Bangor, 126km, and I plan to do it in 4 days.
I have started a Facebook Group where I will have details of when and where I will be running in the hope that people might want to either join me, put me up, feed me or transport my bag from one place to another, especially once I start the legs further away from home in North Wales. I will also set up a fundraiser and post to this group.
Exciting times ahead. Hope to see some of you along the way 🙂