I stare down that road and see exactly where I began. This stretch of single track road probably means nothing to nobody, but to me it means everything. It is where I started to run off the old me, to heal the wounds that tortured and move on from the past that tormented me.
Despite the stillness and stifling heat of today I can feel the cold wind of that night brushing against my cheek.
I started down that small unassuming road in the dead of night, no headtorch to guide me. It’s not too dramatic to say that I had no light to guide me both metaphorically or literally back then. For those of you who are new to my blog before that night in 2015 I was twenty stone and crippled with depression that had beaten me down to new depths. I saw no way out of the pit I had slipped effortless into, until for no real reason at all I picked up a battered old pair of trainers and headed out the door for a slow, stuttering one kilometre run that change my life forever. I don’t really feel like I’ve ever stopped running since then. From that night to now I’ve run fourteen marathons and 2,000 plus miles and in doing so I’ve built a healthier, happier and more resilient version of myself. I ran myself back to life.
But today marks one month until my biggest ever challenge, running my first ever ultramarathon. Not just any ultra either but the Lakeland 50, a gruelling fifty mile trail race with almost 10,000 feet of elevation gain through the stunning but unforgiving Lake District. It will be the furthest distance I’ve ever run, the longest amount of time I’ve ever spent on my feet and well over double the amount of climbing I’ve ever experienced. To top it off I’ll be doing it alone. This race isn’t just a leap of faith it’s a bloody face first dive into the uncharted.
While I don’t feel as prepared as I would want to owing to niggling injuries and time constraints, I felt exactly the same before every big step up in distance before then. Before my first marathon I was suffering from severe tendonitis, patella distress and mentally I had no comprehension of what I was about to face. As I lined up on the start line of the London Marathon I told myself one simple thing; just keep going. It wasn’t fast and it certainly wasn’t pretty but that feeling of pure pride at just finishing is an elixir when depression creeps in under the cover of darkness during sleepless nights.
The first time I ran along this road I wasn’t ready. I’m sat writing this in my car by the side of the road, remembering that gnawing pang of self-disdain. I surprised myself then and while I may fear the distance and the toil that lies ahead I am exhilarated at the chance to surprise myself all over again.