I was the girl at school who avoided PE, especially cross country. In the TA my least favourite thing was the dreaded BFT. I’d train just enough to mean I didn’t fail. I hated PT. I did the absolute minimum necessary to get by. I didn’t try new sports because I didn’t want to find out I was no good at them!
Fast forward 30+ years and I am celebrating crossing the finish line of the iconic Boston Marathon. A marathon that you need to beat a strict qualifying time to enter. What had changed? What makes someone who ‘hates running’ go through a complete U turn to complete 45 marathons?
If I had the answer to that believe me I’d be selling it to schools and gyms across the world. For me it is a combination of being stubborn, when I idly mentioned to a friend that I’d ‘never be good enough to run the Boston marathon, he replied with "not with that attitude you won’t."
This spurred me on, and recognising that running gives me time for myself and is brilliant for my mental health. I don’t find it easy to switch off and relax. Running is my ‘do nothing’ time – the time when my mind can wander and reflect on life.
I first qualified for Boston in time for the 2020 race – but Covid meant that race didn’t happen (and I couldn’t fly to the 2021 due to travel restrictions) so I needed to qualify again for 2022. Pre-flight covid tests were stressful – imagine getting this far and then not being able to fly!
Little wonder that I had tears in my eyes as I stood at the start line listening to the US National Anthem. The course was beautiful and, despite being a net downhill course, brutal. It lived up to all my expectations and , even though I was carrying an injury and suffering a bit, I loved almost every minute of it. There were tears again as I crossed the finish line. Relief, pride and a little bit of sunstroke!
Getting to that finish line is proof that very ordinary people can achieve extraordinary things – if they are prepared to put in the hard work and if they can overcome their fear of failure.