Thursday, 23 June 2011

Born To Run

Many thanks to Amy for writing her recent blog. It generated such a good response that I spent the next few days forwarding to her positive feedback from all over the world – New Zealand, Australia, Canada, South Africa and the USA to name but a few. So popular was Amy’s article, I’ve already received several requests from readers asking me to include their contributions in future blogs. What a fantastic result. I may never need to write again. This week’s blog comes from my good friend, Rebecca Gilbert, who is well on her way from complete non-runner to her first marathon in New York on 6 November (see

Before I hand over to Rebecca, the big news is that my cousin Mel, and her husband Ron, have confirmed their places for the Liverpool Marathon on 9 October 2011 (see You may recall that, while I was running the Vancouver Marathon, Mel and Ron were completing their first half marathon as part of the same event (see Their training is now well underway, in rural Alberta, for the big step up to marathon distance. You can follow their progress, as their 16 week training plan begins (on 27 June 2011), at Mel may even write for again, to give an insight into the journey towards Liverpool. You can read her earlier blogs at and

Ok, so maybe I should start by telling you about how I got stuck in the world of running. A year ago, the thought of putting one foot in front of the other at any pace faster than a gentle stroll didn’t so much fill my soul with dread as total confusion. I just couldn’t fathom why anyone would do it – never mind willingly, and with self-motivation for the reason! After having my daughter, who’s now 18 months, I was dragged along to, what I thought, would be a nice social event called Buggy Fit. I had images of chatting to my friends whilst pushing Daisy, my daughter, around the local park followed by a nice slice of justified cake at the local farm shop. The reality was far from this. The person who took the class was a personal trainer who was there to, well, train. After having various bits of flobber pinched with callipers, heart rates measured and tuts over the state of my ‘vertical abdominal muscle’, I was feeling slightly miffed; couple this with being made to jump, lunge, lift and pelvic raise to within an inch of my life and I was contemplating eating the whole of the chocolate cake as opposed to just a slice. It was declared that I should lose 20% of my body fat and that my diet (which I had always been slightly smug about, ensuring that lentils and spinach made regular appearances) was all wrong and needed to go through a ‘radical transformation’. It was at this point I first considered running. Straight for the hills. I am, however, quietly competitive and horrendously stubborn. So I announced to my friends and family that I was going to get thin and fit. They laughed (quite a lot, much to my dismay), with one friend consoling me that it was a phase and I’d get over it soon enough.

At the Carlise Half Marathon with Jon and Daisy

The following week, I returned to Buggy Fit to find a much depleted group; many of the others had far more common sense and had stayed in the warmth of their homes. I had, however, armed myself with a really long list of excuses. When we were told that running would help us shift the weight, I very loudly announced that I had a baby so couldn’t possibly, and I walk the dog whilst carrying said baby, therefore raising my heart rate to a sufficiently high level to justify eating curry several times a week. I couldn’t possibly do exercise at any other time because I’m a mother… In fact most of my excuses revolved around the fact I was a parent… Adam, the trainer, just shook his head in utter despair. After many weeks, and much nagging, I decided that maybe I should have a go at this running malarkey, so I could say I tried it and dismiss it once and for all. I decided to look at the bright side: if I did it with non-parenty friends, it would be a great opportunity for a catch up and a chat with people I didn’t get to see so often, so I founded the Slow Jogging Club. We began by moving in something which resembled a jog for 30 seconds and then walking for 30 more. Slowly this progressed to really jogging for 30 seconds, then a minute, then two until we were jogging for 5 whole minutes without collapse. At this point our group had dwindled to two as Yorkshire weather had sent the rest running for their nice warm sitting rooms with mutterings of the pub and the word unhinged. I was beginning to get excited. I’ve already mentioned that common sense isn’t my strong point, and I proudly declared to my trainer that I was going to run a marathon. He stifled a laugh (he’s very professional and so would never laugh openly in my face), muttered something about Ben and Jerrys, and suggested that I would benefit from walking before I could run. It was with great indignation that I recounted this story to my running partner, who wasn’t so polite, didn’t stifle her laughter, and promptly opted out of any hair-brained schemes. It was the following week, as I was dragging her over the windy and wet moorland, that she complained her ankle hurt. I told her to not be so ridiculous and to keep going, which she dutifully did, for a further 3 miles. The next day, she turned up on crutches and with a pot on her ankle – something which I have not been allowed to forget since, (slightly justifiably).

With my running club: hiding in the middle, at the back

So then there was one, with no talking or chatting or catching up with friends, I decided I couldn’t possibly stop now – I’d told people I was going to run a marathon! It did amazing things for my training – without using all my lung capacity to fuel my mouth, I started really running. Not very far, or for that matter very fast, but I was definitely running. Friends stopped laughing and started inviting me to races – usually the HellRunner type (see that they couldn’t convince anyone else to do, but still it was nice to be asked. One told me they loved the fact they’d met someone as nutty as they were when it came to personal safety whilst hurtling down a hill. I was still running alone in the evenings, as anti-social running times around Daisy, and not really being that good, meant that I didn’t really want to inconvenience real runners with my presence.


I attended local 10k races and started to be asked if I wanted to go to local running meetings, and I really thought about it, before dismissing it as a crazy thought. I mean I’m a Slow Jogger Club member – the only remaining one, but the clue’s in the name! All through this, my husband had been quietly supportive, only complaining that I couldn’t keep completely replacing my wardrobe every three weeks to fit my rapidly shrinking waistline. So it was with his normal happy manner that he got out of bed when I shook him awake at four thirty am and announced that I thought I should have a go at a half marathon and that there was one today, 100 miles away, that would be perfect. Quietly, he made a coffee, got behind the wheel and drove me to Carlisle. He fielded the confused daughter as she woke up in a car park, while I lined up at the start, and was there at the time that I said I should be finishing – in actual fact I’d finished half an hour before, completely underestimating my time as I felt that I couldn’t slow down when spectators were watching me. This set a bit of a precedent for future races with Jon usually arriving anything between 15 – 45 minutes after I finished the race. With a sub 2 hour half, I decided that maybe I could just try the local running club. It was with huge trepidation that I waited at the advertised meeting place. I knew I was about to be found out as the non-running fraud that I was. I was sent out with the middle group and puffed and panted my way around after them, up some ridiculous hills I’m not sure my car would make it up! As we reached the end, with me muttering apologies and promising never to darken their running door again, one of the group members turned around and announced “the new lass has done alreet and we’ll mek a runner owt of er yit.” I decided to persevere and found that, week after week, I was apologising less for being an embarrassment to the sport.

Neverthong 10k

I’ve now got my entry for the New York City Marathon and D-Day is fast approaching on the 6th November. The enormity of what I’ve said I’m going to do is slowly dawning on me and I’ve begun to beg Adam and a running friend to help me out. Both have very kindly risen to the challenge and are trying their damnedest to turn this self declared cake addict into a sub 3.45 marathon runner. I keep reminding myself that it’s an amazing cause that I’m running for and, although I can let myself down by not completing it, there’s no way I’m going to let down the charity I’ve pledged to raise £1500 for, and the children who rely on it. To find out more about who I’m running for, please visit my justgiving page at



Barcelona, 1 March 2009
3 hrs 57 mins (new PB)
London, 26 April 2009 4 hrs 01 mins
San Francisco, 26 July 2009 3 hrs 43 mins (new PB)
Berlin, 20 September 2009 3 hrs 46 mins
New York, 1 November 2009 3 hrs 53 mins


Vancouver Marathon, 2 May 2010 3 hrs 31 mins (new PB)


Coniston 14 (14 miles), 28 March 2009
1 hr 48
Humber Half Marathon, 15 June 2009 1 hr 40 (new PB)
Congleton Half Marathon, 11 October 2009 1 hr 33 (new PB)

Christies is the charity which provides funds for, and supports, the work of the world renowned specialist cancer centre, The Christie, in Manchester (see Macmillan provides practical, medical, financial and emotional support for people affected by cancer and campaigns for better cancer care (see

Melanie Opmeer – Canadian Cancer Society -

Noel Bresland - Bliss -

Rebecca Gilbert - Kids ( -

Marco Giannini – Christies –

View fivemarathons photos at

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NYC Marathon, 2004

NYC Marathon, 2004
NYC Marathon, 2004