Running by numbers 2010

I’ve promised myself a nice long blog over the Christmas break to reflect on my amazing running year, but in the meantime, here are some interesting numbers:

18 races completed (including 6 parkruns)
2 cancelled/postponed
1 dual event
1 run outside the UK
7 PBs
5 PBs at distances/races I’ve run more than once (1 mile, 5k, Blaydon Race, Pier to Pier, Great North Run)
3 radio interviews
1 picture in Running Free magazine
£1,433.60 raised for Sands in memory of baby Ava

4 races entered in 2011 already (and lots more planned)

But the most important is the number of friends I have made through running and Fetch Everyone this year. And that’s more than I care to count.

Thank you and Merry Christmas one and all.

"Right here's where you start paying…"

I used to love the TV series Fame when I was a kid. It was the only programme I’d ask to stay up late for. So the dance teacher’s words from the opening of every episode have been ringing in my ears as I started my Great North Run training this week.

Now don’t be mistaken. This isn’t some slog, some drudgery that I have to endure. This is something that I really want to do. In fact I’m looking forward to it. I’m a creature of habit and I like to have a focus. The part of me that made a conscientious student still likes to have a plan and the satisfaction of a task well done and ticked off, even if there’s no one but myself to impress.

And so the journey begins again. But there’s so much different this year. I’m fitter, stronger and more importantly I think I understand myself and how I react to things when I’m running better than before.

From 2008 to 2009 I went from 0 miles to 13.1. And I learned to love running. It’s a relationship I’ve had to work on, and I’m sure we’ll continue to have our ups and downs. But it’s worth it.

And I’m more confident. Because, after all, I have done it before. But that doesn’t mean I’ll take it for granted. A lot could happen between now and September. But what I’m hoping will happen is that I’ll enjoy training, build up the mileage and get to that start line feeling excited confident and ready for a fantastic day.

There are many reasons why I feel an affection for this particular race. This area is my home now, and the Great North Run is part of that. Geordies, Makkems, Sanddancers may have their local rivalry and differences, but they well deserve their reputation for warmth and friendliness and never more so than on race day.

I also love it for the stories. For the hundreds of thousands who have run it and have their own race story to tell. For the millions of reasons why they do it. One of my favourite things about the race is the few moments before the start when people are encouraged to stop and think about the causes they’re running for, the memories of loved ones lost or hurting. Call me a sentimental old fool, but it is an incredibly moving moment.

I was there in 2001, when 50,000 runners fell silent in remembrance of the victims of the 9/11 attacks. And when the moment of reflection was over, they let out a cheer of such strength and life and celebration, that it seemed proved the very best of human nature.

I didn’t run in 2001, but maybe it’s where the idea first started. Last year, my first year of running, my start line story was a personal one about going from a non runner to a runner. The culmination of a long quest.

This year it will still be a personal challenge, but a poignant one too. Because I’ll be running in memory to my baby sister Ava who was sadly stillborn in February this year.

I found out I had a place in the run just days after the sad news of her death and it just seemed to help me make sense of the senseless. Believe me, I’d rather be running to celebrate her life, but I hope it will be a fitting tribute to her. And that’s why I’m also hoping to raise money for Sands, the neonatal and stillbirth trust. To help other families who are in the same situation and to help find out why such tiny lives are lost.

I’ve set up a JustGiving page and set a challenging fundraising target. So if you can help by sponsoring me, thank you. And if you can’t, then thank you at least for listening.

This year and next

So this morning I blasted my way through my last PT session of the century, feeling strong and fit and trying out my new Christmas kettlebell.

My fitness goals for 2010 are:

– Sprint tri (pool swim) – which one and when I don’t know yet.
– Sub 50 10k – targeting my ‘home’ race in April for this one
– Sub 2 hour half marathon – depends on whether or not I manage to get a place in the Great North Run again. If not then I need to find another one.
– Beat my Blaydon Race time and enjoy it as much as last time.
– Stay fit, strong and injury free.

2009 will stay with me as the year I fell in love with running.

Running was my refuge and release when I was threatened with redundancy. It gave me strength physically and mentally to take whatever got thrown at me. And yes, there were times when I couldn’t quite block everything out and my running suffered, but I battled through those too. Because it’s that important.

Running isn’t something I have always done, but it feels like it. It’s part of how I define myself, how I introduce myself now. It’s taught me new language – orthotics, tib band, and intervals for example.

It’s brought me new friends, true friends both in real life and through this strange interconnected world of the web. And it’s given me the confidence and passion to write for me again.

So I can say that 2009 has been a pretty good year, and that gives me the confidence to look forward to 2010 and smile at all the possibilities it brings.