Never did I think, when I was standing nervously in the pink starting pen of the Great North Run in October 2006, that those words would ever come from my mouth! The one half marathon, from start to finish without walking, was my aim - to challenge myself and to do something positive in the face of the awful disease that would take mam away from us just a week after I'd crossed that first finish line.
I did a second 2 weeks after the Great North, upped that challenge to 3 the following year and then 4 in 2008 - that seemed like a huge number to be doing all in the same year! And somehow, here I am at 50...with no intention of stopping.
Despite what people might think it doesn't seem to get easier - when you get used to the distance you push yourself harder, faster, try a different type of event (like one with big hills in...) or run a couple of days after you've done a longer distance; in this case it was Milton Keynes marathon on Monday.
What a great half to be the fiftieth - the 'May the Fourth Be With You' half marathon, a 13.1 mile trail in the Shropshire hills on a weekday in May, with lots of Stormtroopers and Leias to keep us company! Very chilly start and windy, but the wind was behind us going up the first gruelling grind of about 2 miles, and at the top a feed station with flat coke (bliss), sweeties and Frazzles awaited us. I'll not go into details of the route too much as Mike's already described it in the last blog (more organised than me at writing posts...), and the video shows some of the beauty of the route. It's pretty brutal, especially 3 days after a marathon, and at one point I was 'running' but not actually making any ground whatsoever on the couple in front who were, erm, walking!! However, it really is worth the screaming calf muscles as you climb the uphills, trying to jog a little as the incline lessens but finding that your legs aren't quite on the same page as you; it's worth the agony of trying to walk downstairs - or just walk - the day after with thighs that are unforgiving for what you've put them through. The enormity of the Everest marathon struck me as we were coming towards the end and my quads were complaining - how are they going to feel after 4500m of relentless steep downhill?! And what will my calves think when the total ascent is multiplied by over 4 times as much as this run??
The main feeling on Thursday, however, was enjoyment (mainly on the downhill sections...!) - it was fun to be in the open, running in beautiful surroundings with like-minded people, and running for a change with Mike who, usually far too fast for me, waited and ran alongside all the way. That answers part of the question 'how did I get to 50?': enjoyment, challenge, and support from Mike, from family, friends, colleagues and the Run MND family which makes it so much easier to stay involved, to get out of the door on yukky cold nights and keep training - and makes it so much harder to control that finger that keeps pressing the 'enter now' button that so enticingly pops up on running websites :-)
50 half marathons including 11 consecutive Great North Runs for the Motor Neurone Disease Association: thank you everyone who has helped support that journey, and here's to the next 50!!!