So then, blogging. Seems like everyone is at it. Why do it, what could I get out of it?
Well I like talking and these days that mainly seems to be about running. This clearly bores my friends that don't run and probably even those that do. Hopefully spending time putting it in print will get it off my chest and make for some more interesting banter in the pub.
It wasn't always like this. A few years ago I was pretty normal, not interested in running or exercise at all for that matter, apart from the occasional stroll or swim and a bit of skiing in the winter. Living in the French ski resort of Chamonix, there are a lot of extremely fit people around, making the most of the mountains in all seasons. There is also a vibrant après-ski scene which is ideal for undoing anything healthy you might have achieved during the day. In my younger days I was definitely more interested in the latter.
Then a few years ago, my lovely dad died. I decided to do the Lausanne half-marathon as a one-off, to raise money for charity and because it was something my dad and I had done together when I was growing up. He was my hero, training for and completing the hilly Isle of Wight marathon when he was in his 40s, a boozy, ex-smoker, pub landlord, who raised money for our primary school. I was pretty good at running too, which he always encouraged but never pushed, until I went to University and discovered beer, boys and death metal.
I got round the Lausanne race in an acceptable time, my annoying husband who barely trained did so even faster and we raised more money than we'd ever hoped for. My dad would have been so proud. The next year I ran the Chamonix Cross - a half-marathon at altitude, with 1500m ascent, off-road, up and down rocky mountain paths. My first ever trail race. I was hooked. The feeling of running in the great outdoors with breathtaking views, on challenging terrain, no pounding of pavements, was amazing. Plus you got free beer at the end - what's not to like?!
Since then I have run the Chamonix Marathon and various other trail races. I also volunteered as a helper for the awesome Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc - a 166km race around the Tour du Mont Blanc. Inspired by what I saw, not content with just running marathons and happy to have found a sport where age appears to be no barrier when I am pushing 40, I am now aiming to become an ultra runner. Why not? Last year I completed my first 'ultra' the 50km Trail des Aiguilles Rouges, with 4000m ascent and descent. It nearly killed me, I was almost last, but I did it. "Never again" has become my standard first line after a race, although nobody believes me anymore. And neither do I.
But running isn't all about races and gives me more than just a sense of achievement - it clears my head at the end of the working day, gives me quality time with my equally running-addicted dog Leila, has made me lose weight while allowing me to stuff my face with even more cake, and has put me in touch with friends, old and new, that share my new-found obsession. Weekends are spent exploring new routes, admiring stunning views, pushing ourselves further and faster, getting up in the middle of the night to practice with head-torches, trying out (lots of) new trail snacks, swimming in mountain lakes when 30 degrees gets too much, hurting sometimes, but above all enjoying spending time together, talking, laughing and making the most of this fantastic, free, facility on our doorstep.
So that's me. I plan to write about my training, races, dreams, failures, ups and downs. If I can pick up some tips from all of you along the way, fabulous. And if I can inspire someone to get involved, even better. Whatever happens, I will never ever give up my wine and cake.