• A Journey of Acceptance

    Over the years, running has meant different things to me. It has allowed me to push myself further than I ever dreamed possible, it has allowed me to see different places, it has allowed me to just be outside. Whilst running I have grieved deeply, cried bitter tears and laughed often. Running has enabled me to connect to so many people and I have made some deep and important friendships because of running.

    This year's Spitfire Scramble (a 24 hour run in Hornchurch, Essex) turned out to be another journey of discovery for me. I entered it even though I knew my training was woefully inadequate. I'm now a single Mum to two teenage boys and I work full time as a teacher. Life is pretty hectic and doesn't leave much time for training. I manage to get out most weekends and I still go to the boxing club once or twice a week, but the longest run I've done since Spetember 2015 was 2 hours 30 minutes. I like to call myself an ultra-runner, but the truth is, I haven't even run a marathon for nearly two years! So I entered the Sptifire Scramble on a sudden impulse, a desire to get back to the runner I used to be, and part of me thought that running for 24 hours might just be the thing I needed!

    It turns out: I was right! Having run Spitfire in 2015, I knew that the event is well organised and has a fantastic community spirit, so even if I didn't manage to keep going for the whole time, I would at least have fun.

    When I ran it before, I was in the middle of a successful year of running: I had already completed the Halstead Marathon, two 12 hour runs and I was going to run 26.2 hours in silence in Finland in September. I was well trained and extremely focused. I ran just over 100 miles at that year's Spitfire. I was really pleased with my running that year as I had been second woman at all three ultra events. In Finland, I ran just over 114 miles.

    This time round, I managed 63 miles. And those 63 miles felt an awful lot harder than the longer distances I had covered before. It left me with mixed emotions as I know I can do better. But, with time, family and work commitments being as they are, this was the best I could do this time.

    So my 24 hours at Spitfire became a journey of acceptance. Of realising that times change and circumstances change; of realising that I can only ever do my best, and my best is quite flexible. And I had a lovely time.

    I spent a lot of time walking. I walked with Hazel from Halstead Road Runners and Elizabeth, one of the other solo runners, in the middle of the night. I'm not sure if it is the hushed tones you use for night-time talking, but there is something quite special about those late night talks - especially when you are in the middle of a forest! I also walked with Mark, Anne and Olivia. Mark has just recently completed his teacher training so we spent time chatting about the job. Anne is a gardener and spends lots of her time running at different events; Olivia had completed a full ironman only two weeks before and was still smiling!

    I was over the moon to see Andi again. I met her at my first Spitfire in 2015 so I was delighted to see her again. We ran together early on and then walked our last, slow lap together; it was a real pleasure to finish the 24 hours with her.

    I might not have run the whole 63 miles, but I managed to keep going, even when I came close to quitting. My Mum stayed for the first five laps, and at the end of the fourth she gave me some reflexology (a mother's love obviously knows no limits because my feet were pretty stinky by then!). I was feeling quite bad at this point as I was dizzy and nauseous and my heart rate had stayed at 180bpm for the previous four hours. Someone told me my eyes were bloodshot and I could, quite easily, have gone home with Mum at that point. But I had a cup of tea, half a packet of crisps and an almond finger and then I laid down for 30 minutes. After that my determination returned and I resumed my battle with the course. I had another break (more tea, crisps and a very sound sleep courtesy of the Halstead Road Runners) just before midnight and I was back out again.

    This year's Spitfire taught me that my determination (stubbornness) can take me a long way (although not as far as being well-trained will take me though!). It helped me to remember that I love running because it takes me outside and it enables me to meet and reconnect with strong and inspiring people. On the whole, the running community is supportive and friendly and the Spitfire Scramble is an excellent example of that.

    Thank you to everyone at Spitfire: the organisers, the amazing volunteers, the other participants and their support crews. Your smiles and your support provided encouragement and strength. The further I go on this running journey, the more I realise that it is about the connections you make rather than the steps you take.


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This blog is about my thoughts, my practice, my incessant ramblings and so on and so forth.

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