Why an Ultra?
Lots of people ask this - and you know what? I used to ask that too!
In fact in 2014/15 when my good friend John used to come in to work on a Monday and we'd say "how was your weekend?" and he'd casually say - "yeah good, did a 10k yesterday" my eyes would fair pop out of my head! I couldn't imagine that someone could - well someone "normal" you know like me, would run 10k and not, like, die!
My experience with running at that point was to put it bluntly - awful.
I'd done my 2k with the other ALTs in Ohori Park in Fukuoka as part of a 10k relay for the whole of city hall - and we were the annual joke! The second year I only managed 1k because I sneezed and pulled all the muscles around my right rib cage - so I could barely walk or breathe let alone run! They wouldn't NOT let me do it. Both years (2005 and 2006) were awful! I wanted to run but it was SO HARD! I genuinely thought I was dying.
Jump to 2007 - something possessed me to sign up for Race for Life - once again I planned to practice running 5k to see how it felt but yet again I didn't make it my priority and the time just did what time does - and went! That first 5k took me 40 minutes. I actually did a fairly good strategy - I walked kms 2 and 4 and jogged the other 3 - with small walk breaks when it was too much. I was so proud of my 40 minutes but yet again that ONE RUN was where it ended.
Life continued - work took on a familiar depressing and highly stressful tone and my dream of becoming a PT became a reality. So it's 2014, I've been a qualified PT for over a year, 2 kids at home and I start training a couple of amazing people. Runners. And here's me running AFTER them, wheezing like a asthmatic. with THEM looking like the trainer. And I thought this is ENOUGH! Time to step my pu**y UP! And this time I did.
I started small - just a mile here or there - and taking clients out on run-workouts - was my own sneaky way of doing intervals. We run together, then I rest while they're doing high impact on benches. Pretty quickly I found that I could keep pace with these "amazing runners" and the best day (about 12 months later) was when one of them said to me during a session "either I've gotten waaaay slower or you've sped up!" I took that complement and ran with it.
Around this time (2015) sadly John was killed whilst riding his bike on a beautiful sunny afternoon. I felt devastated at this loss and so heartbroken for his family. I vowed to try and live life to the fullest, as he had, and collect experiences and look after myself for the sake of my kids. I signed up to my very first 10k. A Rat Race event in Clumber Park - part of the Trailblazer series. What an emotional run that was. I didn't manage to run the whole 10k without stopping (man there were some tricky hills!) I thought of John as I ran and I burst into tears as I crossed the finish line. What a buzz, what a build up of feelings, what an ache in my legs!!! And I wanted more! That 10km took me 1 hour and 16 minutes - not too shabby!
I had to inform my bootcampers that John had sadly passed away, he used to join us sometimes, and I mentioned that he'd said he wanted to do the Endurer Dash (8km Muddy Obstacle Race) and that I planned to do it in his name - 12 bootcampers signed up to the run and we raised £500 for St John's Ambulance. Me and a few others caught the OCR bug and we carried on! This meant that the miles ran upped and upped over the years:
- Endurer Double 10km and 5km April 2016
- Airfield Anarchy 10k June 2016
- X-Runner 10k September 2016
- X-Runner 10k April 2017
- Airfield Anarchy Epic 5km, 10km, 10 miles June 2017
- X-Runner 10k September 2017
- Rat Race Dirty Weekend 2018 - 20 miles, 200 obstacles!
- X-Runner 10k September 2018
And lots of 5ks and 10ks with my own running groups to support them!
2018 was a bit of a turning point. My marriage was over - definitely - and I was looking for a new challenge. Even thought the Dirty Weekend was super hard (I was injured and unable to run) it ignited in me something unexplainable. I wanted to run 20 miles, I wanted more 40, 50! I wanted to push myself to see where my body could take me.
So in October 2018 I signed some of my besties up to run the Ochil Ultra Relay - 5 people, 10 miles each plus one crew member! I thought - hey if I can do 20 miles limping along while climbing over walls and under tunnels then 10 miles should be a walk in the park! Getting closer to the time one of our team had to pull out so I (possibly a stupid idea) volunteered to do 2 legs! Just a cool 19 miles over hills! ha! Well I did it - and it WAS PAINFUL!! And at one point I actually screamed "I am done running!!" but as someone mere days after that hideous hangover has disappeared and the words "I'm never drinking again" has faded from their lips, says "ooh fancy a drink?" I too decided the next time I run the Ochil Ultra will be on my own - the full 50 miles.
SO here we are - I am going to document my journey from here to Ultra. And if I can encourage or motivate even one person to run more or share your story too then brilliant!