It is a real honour to be asked to talk to you all about how running and sport has made me the person I am today (and I think for the better personally).
I started off as a cyclist aged 12 and for 20 years achieved some decent club results – second cat road license and local time trials.
At almost 24 years I discovered that I had testicular cancer. I made a full recovery but personally struggled after hitting rock bottom – almost losing my job – and moving back home. Through all this I still had the love of cycling. So I bought a new bike and became obsessed with being better than pre-cancer me, which I did and much more!
By the age of 31 I was needing a new challenge/goal and found running through a bet with a friend. In 2010 I got a place in the London Marathon. It was my first running event since school cross country (which I was no good at!) I completed the race in four hours nine minutes and was hooked! In July 2010 I joined Stroud & District AC with the only goal to break four hours at London.
Since then I have run more than 65 marathons (including three sub-three hours, although it took about 20 to hit that milestone). I learnt to swim from scratch at 35 years old and have now completed 13 Ironman events.
In my 40th year I completed one marathon a month (well actually 16 in one year). This year I decided to up the distance and completed a 50 K in January which went really well. Just a few weeks ago I took part in a 24-hour race around Gloucester track completing 404 laps (101 miles or 162k) and that’s a talk in itself! Needless to say I will be back there next year, better prepared to go further for sure!
The day I wake up and don’t want to train or race and the love is gone I will put all my time, effort and experience into sport at club level, whatever that may be. Sport, be it swimming, cycling or running has given me so much!
Finally I always get asked what I have learnt about myself in all my time taking part in sport. Here are my top five:
1. Be process driven not results driven and the results/times will happen
2. There is always another race. If it does not go to plan learn, move on and don’t dwell on it
3. We can all be much better than we think is possible just by looking at our weaknesses and addressing whatever they may be
4. Be consistent in training, getting it done when life is hard or just not feeling it. All those small pieces add up over time
5. Why we do what we do – because I love it now like I did when I was 12 and when I did my first marathon (and swimming is getting there!)
Thanks for your time and hope you all enjoyed it.