Regular readers of my column will know that I set myself the New Year challenge of achieving a 10K PB, something that hasn’t happened since 2008 BC (Before Children) – back in the days when a good night’s sleep was still a given, rather than a (very) occasional luxury.
“Shorter races are the way forwards!” I declared loudly, stating that I no longer had time to train for long races and that my new goal was to run faster, not further.
Er, yes. About that… Everyone has that one exception they are willing to break their own rule for, don’t they?
You see, I got the chance to enter the Virgin Money London Marathon, and just like that, daydreams of long-but-rewarding training runs, miles and miles of pavements, and making it to the start line of one of the greatest races on the planet started flooding in.
Where I thought I had no extra time to run, I am making more time. Where I decided training for a marathon would require energy reserves I just don’t have, I’m making sure I head to bed early and eat the right foods*, to ensure I can bound through a mid-week tempo session AND find it in myself to push the kids on the swings all afternoon. (*Mostly I will be trying to eat the right foods. Other times, when I am exhausted and the kids have pushed ALL my buttons, I will inhale an entire pack of chocolate digestives while hiding in the kitchen. Washed down with gin). Where I wasn’t sure I could make motherhood AND marathon training work, I am damn well going to make it happen.
Because no-one turns down London, do they?
London is special to me. It was my first marathon, back in 2009, so it will always hold a certain significance. After all, it was the race that showed me I could achieve something I’d never realised was possible until that moment: I could run 26.2 freakin’ miles! And wow, the memories. I mean, everyone thinks they know the London Marathon from watching it on TV. But when you’re a part of it, you get to experience all the incredible hidden gems it conceals, too. Like the fact running through the streets south of the river feels like you’re part of a vibrant carnival; like the fact I got splashed with holy water, as I ran past a church whose entire congregation was out on the roadside cheering on the runners; like the fact that, making the final turn before hitting Tower Bridge, I got hit by a wall of sound so loud it felt almost physical – the crowd at a staggering volume.
I am aching to be part of this again; aching to be part of an event that is filled with such positivity, camaraderie, generosity, hope, grit, determination and love.
So yes, while the training is tough, and while I need to somehow muster more energy each day to run, as well as make a fish pie/construct a Batmobile out of a cardboard box/do all the voices while reading The Gruffalo/diffuse a toddler meltdown/wipe felt pen off the skirting boards, I am giving this my best shot.
After all, this time around, there will be two little people waiting for me at the finish line – two amazing, funny, wonderful people who I couldn’t have envisaged in my wildest dreams back in 2009. What an awesome incentive to get through those 26.2 miles!
Excitingly, I have also joined Team War Child, so all that gruelling training and the 26.2 miles on the day itself will hopefully raise vital funds for a charity that does awe-inspiring work: helping to protect, educate and stand up for the rights of children who are caught in some of the most hostile conflict zones around the world.
So, London: I have my training plan, my support crew and my cause – get set, because I’m coming for you!