RUTH'S MARATHON JOURNEY SO FAR
I have always been quite active. As a child, I played in every sports team possible at school. Then my PE teacher came to ask me where I was going to be next Thursday? I remember the question like it was yesterday. 12 years old and nervous. I didn’t have a clue where I was going to be, but she told me at basketball practice; I was too scared to say no (not that I wanted too) and that was the start of my basketball career. I was lucky to play Basketball for England as a junior, and then continued to play National League Basketball into my 30’s.
I ran intermittently, when it was pre-season and I needed to get myself fit for the season ahead. When the Olympics, World Championships, Europeans, any athletics really, was on, I suddenly felt like I was going to be the next great Olympian. Was that just me that did that? So that often got me out running!
I remember being inspired by Liz McColgan and straight away thought that I too was going to be a distance runner; well that was until I went out to run and felt like I was going to die after 10 minutes! How did they do it!
Funny that running was quite often a punishment in my basketball days, yet now I happily lace up and head out the door for fun. I actually look forward to the ‘punishment’ and feel lost without it!
At the end of one of our basketball seasons, one of the players asked a few of us if we would take part in a 5K ‘FUN RUN’ so I agreed. Let’s just clarify, it wasn’t 5k, and it wasn’t fun. There wasn’t anyone in fancy dress, no rhino’s or Big Ben. At times it felt like it was the hardest thing I had EVER done, but I got the most amazing feeling of accomplishment and buzz when I crossed the finish line after FIVE MILES (and 2 pints of beer; long story, which you can read on my blog in What Can possibly go wrong??? Race Day Disasters) I knew then that I was hooked and I wanted to do more.
Basketball took over again and even though I ran for training, I don’t remember entering any more races or go running just for the sake of running for a while.
When I snapped my ACL (Anterior Cruciate Ligament) playing basketball, I cried lots. That was my basketball career over and I was told I would never be able to run a marathon after surgery. I was crying over never being able to run a marathon, yet I hadn’t ever run a half marathon at the time! hehe
Every year I used to watch the London Marathon and think I am going to do that one year (luckily I had grown up since the days of thinking I was going to be an Olympian, so I didn’t think, ‘One day I am going to win the London marathon’)! Well, maybe I did, but I just didn’t say it out loud anymore.
Then in 2009, 2 years post operation, I set my heart on running the Royal Parks Half Marathon. I had to get a charity place as I hadn’t got a place in the general entries, so agreed to run for Tommys.
My dad was showing signs of being poorly at this time, but we were not really sure what was wrong with him. I just remember being disappointed that he and my mum couldn’t travel to London to see me run, and the phone call to them after completing it was an emotional one. I was elated that I had finished, I was tired as I had just run/walked 13.1 miles, I was annoyed as I really wanted to dip under 2 hours, I was 2:00:32! (which is still my PB, all these year later) AND I was also unsure how anyone ever ran a marathon, because the thought of doing that all over again, straight after, seemed ridiculous! Marathoners were a special kind of mad! I was NEVER going to do THAT! So I thought.
A month later, November 2009 my dad was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease. He died just 8 months after that. The pain is indescribable, and something I don’t think you ever know how hard it is until you experience for yourself. There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think of my dad and miss him very much!
I stupidly told my dad the week before he died that I would up my distance and run a 16-mile race I had found online. So, I signed up to the 16-mile race and decide to raise money for the MND Association. Running through my grief helped immensely, as I always felt my dad with me, as I pounded the streets crying. Before I had a chance to run that 16-mile race, I found out that I was pregnant so that put a stop to that!
After giving birth, I think I took up running again, like most people as I needed to shift the baby weight, and I felt I still owed my dad that 16-mile race. My love for it hadn’t distinguished. Inspired by the 2012 Olympics; was there anyone that wasn’t? I started entering races again.
I entered The Great North Run in 2012 and then FOUR half marathons in 2013, amongst other 5 and 10k’s. Each year, I had entered to London Marathon ballot just in case, but secretly was relieved that I didn’t get in, for about 6 years consecutively. I even applied for a charity place with MND Association and didn’t get in. So, thought I was probably destined not to run it.
In 2014 that changed. I was so lucky, shocked, excited and worried that I got a place via the ballot. I was going to do my one and ONLY marathon in London. I was nervous and had no idea what I was letting myself in for. I found a training plan in Women’s Running Magazine, then I ran, ate, slept and chatted all things marathon for around 4 to 5 months.
I’m not sure I have the words to describe just how awesome the London Marathon is. The crowds, the hype, the route, the build-up, the participants; I just LOVED every moment of it. Even the last few miles when I thought I couldn’t take another step; I still had a smile on my face. (Or was it a grimace?)
I’m not sure if I knew the moment I crossed the line, or a few days after, that my ‘one and only marathon’ wouldn’t be just one! I remember being shattered but forcing myself to stay awake past midnight to put my name into the ballot for the following year!
Since then I have run London Marathon twice more, and New York City Marathon once. I was almost scared to run NYC, as what if it didn’t match up to London? I went for it, as it was being held 4 days prior to my 40th Birthday, and I had always wanted to go to New York, so that was it. I would take the chance and booked it!
Now let me assure you, marathons are not easy, and the training for them is tough. I sometimes think they are like childbirth; the worst pain you have ever experienced, but for some reason, you get the urge to want to do it again!
New York was every bit amazing as London, if not the MOST amazing race ever, and that set off a new passion! I decided then that I wanted to run all the marathon majors and be a six-star finisher. I have a place for Chicago Marathon this October, and as training is about the start in the next week or so, I am excited and nervous. I worry I have forgotten how hard marathon training is and like most of us, I want to go faster than I have before! If you want to follow my journey, follow my instagram page (@rularuns) or blog (www.rularuns.co.uk) as I’ll document it all there.
For anyone reading this who is contemplating running a marathon, I say DO IT! It won’t be easy, but it will be worth it. For anyone reading this, thinking I NEVER want to run a marathon, that’s ok too. Running is a personal journey and do what makes you happy. But be aware, it may just find yourself signing up one day (usually after a beer or two)!