Me - my story from the beginning
This is me and this is where it all began, Brighton, April 2011. My first marathon. The one I thought I'd never start let alone finish. At the age of 31 I didn't think I had 26.2 miles in me. I was wrong. I did and finishing Brighton, with my best friend and training partner by my side sparked a new love of running and particularly, running marathons.
In my mid 20s I was overweight and out of shape. I'd always wanted to be able to run and to do something in memory of my dad, but it was a pipedream. Then one day I braved the gym, braved the treadmill and then ventured outside for a run - I've never looked back.
Not one to do things by halves, in 2011 I took part in my first ever race, Brighton Marathon. It wasn't what I expected. The run yes, but not everything else. I never saw the heat, the injury or the emotion coming.
I learnt that day that running a marathon is about more than the physical feat. It is a battle with your will, when everything is telling you to stop. It is a 26 mile battle with your sanity when you are repeatedly asking yourself 'why am I doing this' and promising 'never again'. But more than that, it is an emotional battle - every time you read another runner's top and see their loved one smiling back at you, every time you remember what and who is driving you on and every time you see your supporters in the crowd, cheering and waving and looking on with pride.
For me, Brighton was nothing short of transformational. It was the day I started to believe that I could achieve my goals. It was the day I made a bond with my best friend that could never be broken - we started the journey together and crossed the finish line hand in hand. It was also the day that my hard ass non-running friends were turned into blubbering wrecks, not just at the finish, but repeatedly on the journey home. Amazing what running can do :)
Since then I have gone on to run a further 4 marathons, London twice, Bournemouth and last but not least Yorkshire. I've also racked up countless halves including the iconic Great North Run in September 2014. Each run has taught me more about running and more about myself as a runner. So what have I learnt? Nerves never go away and nor do the pre-race shakes. Injuries can happen to anyone, but with the help of a good osteopath and a foam roller they can be beaten. Stitch can happen at any time and if you push too hard it will make you sick (apologies to the St John's ambulance man who's shoes got christened at the end of London 2014). PBs are there to be beaten, friends are there to be made and post race chips and champers are a must!
So at the end of 2014 I asked myself what next? What could my next challenge be? Go for another PB? Run different marathons or maybe even try an ultra or triathlon? Then it struck me - I hadn't finished what I started. I'd dreamed of taking on a fundraising challenge in memory of my dad and I hadn't done it. So now is the time, before I'm too old, too injured or have just talked myself out of it again. Time to live up to that 'Loopy' nickname he gave me.
So 2015 is for my dad, Frank Hewer, who sadly at the age of just 49 died thanks to the bastard illness that is bowel cancer. In his memory I will be running multiple races, multiple marathons and even back to back events to raise crucial funds and the profile of the fabulous charity Bowel and Cancer Research. If we can help them to help find better treatments and a cure for this disease my hours of training, miles in the bank and blood, sweat and blisters will have been very worthwhile.
You can follow my journey in my blog 'Frankly speaking' and follow me on twitter @girljustruns