In It For The Long Run - By Karen Bennett
Hands up if you used to love watching London marathon on the TV, but doubled up panting if you tried running around the block?
I definitely fell into that category. It’s not that I wasn’t active, it’s just that my brother was the talented runner in our family, whilst I, well, I wasn’t. Running a marathon was on my bucket list, though. After missing out in the London ballot ten times and with my 40th birthday looming, I figured I might as well get my midlife crisis underway and entered Brighton marathon in 2013.
Too worried about holding people back on my long runs, I went out by myself week after week. On race day I made the rookie error of going out too quickly and detonated at 16 miles. The final ten miles were a mixture of sobbing, pain and adrenaline fuelled ecstasy. Within an hour of crossing the line, my once in a lifetime marathon had morphed into ‘another one could be fun’.
I’m a teacher and had planned on using Brighton to raise funds for a Ugandan school that we’re linked with, but after overhearing a teaching colleague comment that ‘everyone runs marathons for charity these days’, after Brighton I decided to try my hand at a 24-hour event. Somehow I’d convinced myself that sobbing my way to end of one marathon meant that I could survive 24 hours on my feet. My training plan wasn’t exactly a plan. In fact it constituted not running further than 20 miles in one go after Brighton, before rocking up at Endure 24, with no idea what I was letting myself in for. Turns out I was letting myself in for a whole lot of fun, a 24-hour picnic, a fair bit of hobbling and quite a bit of time emptying my guts in the port-a-loos. 75 miles later and I was hooked. I’d found a sport I loved; one in which walking up hills and chatting was actively encouraged.
After a few years of one marathon and a couple of ultras a year, I fell in with the wrong crowd, the sort of people your mother warns you about. A strange bunch of individuals, many of whom sport 100 Marathon Club tops. They convinced me that running marathons on a more regular basis would take away the need to train in between. I was sucked in. Next, they persuaded me that on lapped timed events, running/staggering a bonus lap, to make it up to an ultra marathon, made sense.
It was inevitable that, in the end, the thought of trying my hand at a 100 miler would worm it’s way into my brain. As I approached 45 in January, just a few events short of notching up my 50th marathon/ultra, this year seemed as good as any to give it a shot. After months of building up the miles, including a couple of double 50km weekends, my body reminded me that I’m not as young as I used to be. A grumbling Achilles knocked my training on the head for a few weeks at the end of January. With only a month to go, my first long run back was a marathon, the first of three in a week, before starting to taper. My Achilles held up and I began to believe that maybe it wasn’t such a ludicrous idea after all.
With less than a week to go before I set off into the unknown, am I ready? Is it even possible to be ready? I’m pretty damn stubborn and have enough supplies crammed into the boot of my car to keep small family going. Does it even matter if I cross the finish line? Whether I do, or whether I don’t, I will give it my best shot. I will make myself proud.
Here’s to believing that anything it possible. Here’s not to not being afraid of failing. Here’s to being a Runr.