We are just two days into the new year, and already it is shaping up to be a great one.
I’ve spent a lot of time in the car over the Christmas break so I’ve had a lot of thinking time, and I’ve also been listening to some brilliant inspirational podcasts.
This post had been intended to be about yesterday’s New Year’s Day run, but it seems to want to go in another direction so I think I’ll just let it.
2016 proved to be a pretty transformational year. At the time it felt like there were so many bad things, but the end of the year was pretty special and it reminded me just how far I’ve come since this time last year.
And so I start 2017 with an incredible sense of optimism, and a lightness of spirit I haven’t felt consistently for a very very long time.
There are a few reasons for this, but one of the most significant was realising just how long it is since I first separated from my ex husband, and how much of that I had still been carrying around with me. The weight of the guilt I felt from ending the marriage has dictated so much more than I had ever realised, but I think ten years is enough beating myself up.
2016 also involved dealing with a lot of feelings to do with another couple of subsequent relationships. There was a huge storyline in The Archers of all things, and it brought some pretty big stuff to the surface. While I’ve never suffered domestic violence in the physical sense, as the storyline built, I realised there had been some pretty intense emotional/psychological abuse going on.
I happened to meet a good friend for a drink right in the midst of it all, and for the very first time I found the whole messy thing coming out into my hipster dinner of leek-flowers-and-something-else. I only remember the leek flowers because the waiter had been so keen to tell us how tenderly they had been foraged, and because I didn’t know leeks even had flowers. They were very good but the rest of my dinner was pretty average I seem to remember.
My friend L listened patiently as everything tumbled forth.
Soon after this, I think I was on the bus or the train one day and I realised how little the events of 2010 (a horrific break up and the short notice cancellation of a much longed for wedding) now affected my day to day life. It was now just something that had happened, and these days it almost feels as though it happened to someone else. At the time I never, ever thought I would get over it. But it seems I have. Now when I think of him, I hope he isn’t in pain and that’s about the end of it.
2016 saw a whole new set of running challenges. Needing a break from the close-knit Scottish ultra scene, I entered an event in the Lake District back in April. This was, once again, unexpectedly a truly life-changing experience. I camped in the shadow of Skiddaw, alone in sub zero temperatures, crossed the Helvellyn summit plateau with a stranger and a slightly temperamental husky in winter conditions and realised there was a whole new playground here just waiting to be explored. I’m heading back this year at least twice and I absolutely can’t wait.
The new year brings ever bigger running challenges, and now I know that I am taking them on for the right reasons.
Not because I feel inadequate and need badges of honour to show the world I can do stuff, but because I have this incredible body (not in that way!!) that I have trained and built up from nothing but blubber and a bolted together ankle, and it seems it is capable of magnificent things when I look after it properly. I enjoy pushing myself physically, I love working hard towards a big crazy goal, and I love the new things I am learning about myself all the time.
In motorbike racing (something else I can’t believe I did, and which saved me while I went through the separation from my ex), the skill was to manage the bike, the engine, tyres, fuel, suspension and yourself as the rider, firstly to get to the track and to the start line, then through the race, as quickly as possible, without crashing or breaking yourself or anyone or anything else.
In running, you are all of those things – the bike, the engine, the rider – and while the approach is similar, it’s much less to worry about in many ways. At its simplest, all you need to go running is a pair of running shoes.
Yesterday on my run, I spoke aloud the next BIG thing I want to have a go at. I was in a safe and supportive environment, in great company, where it felt OK to share big crazy dreams without being laughed at. My dear friend said “your pace will be perfect for that” and my heart nearly leapt out of my chest.
Giving voice to it made it real, and it felt really, really good. It’s a long way away, but these days I really enjoy things I need to spend time working towards, and it turns out I am pretty good at getting myself through them. Slowly, yes, but generally with a smile on my face and an incredible story to tell at the end. This undertaking will be massive, with a very high percentage of failure and so I think the biggest challenge may be accepting it might not work out the first time and not being dissuaded by this. It will also mean asking for and accepting help from others, something else I find incredible difficult.
Recently, I read some things written by a couple of people I really admire, about how they had chosen a word to carry them through each new year and how well it had worked for them.
My 2017 word is going to be
(the image at the top of the post is my dad helpfully pointing the way as we set off on our 2014 adventure up Mont Ventoux. He looks SO happy and excited to be setting off to chase one of his childhood dreams and it’s one of my favourite pictures of him)