I’ve run on and off since I finished high-school in a vain attempt to manage my weight.
I never liked it much.
I remember going through a period of waking up before dawn and running by Hampstead Heath when I was living on Finchley Road and around Tompkins Square Park when I was living in Manhattan, loathing every minute of it, desperate for macaroni and pizza and ice-cream in order to compensate for the torture. These early morning stints never lasted long.
I started running properly when my Dad was a few months shy of dying of cancer. The distances I undertook slowly lengthened. Often I ran when I wanted to cry or scream and it helped me cope with the grief.
I was in Brooklyn then and had a friend who was training for the New York Marathon, she invited me to run this 4 mile race with her. I’d never run that far before but it felt possible.
I think I ran it in converse trainers.
I didn’t even own a sports bra at the time.
It was held in Central Park and there were a huge number of supporters all cheering and handing out cups of water and when it was over they gave me a medal. As I turned to run around a corner at the north end of the park I remember hearing someone shout, “YOU ARE THE STRONGEST WOMEN IN NEW YORK.”
This was four years ago. These days I run between 5 and 10k three or four times a week. I cannot imagine a life without it. It’s done something to me.
I worry sometimes that it’s given me a false notion that I’m a little invincible.
In 2010, I planned a surprise party for an ex-boyfriend on a Friday evening, drank and smoked heavily until midnight. On Saturday I got on a flight to New York that arrived at midnight New York time and then ran the New York Half Marathon at 7am Sunday.
My teenage self would not recognise me.