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It’s amazing to see what women can do when they find the fire to do it

For many years, my working pattern meant that I could no longer commit to the team sports I had enjoyed as a teenager.  I had played netball and hockey at school but working a variety of days and nights meant I could no longer commit to regular training sessions.  I lost my love of sport and got into bad habits. This in turn led to a loss of confidence.

I had always thought that running a marathon was a pipe dream, but a dream none the less.  In 2014 my close friend ran the London Marathon and I was in awe of her commitment to training and the huge buzz of the day. The next year she persuaded me to enter a 10km race in central London.  For this I needed to complete the C25K programme.

While I thoroughly enjoyed the day, I quickly fell back into the bad habit of just working and socialising.

For the next 2 years I completed the same race but slipped back after each one.  I had, however, started applying for the London marathon, without success.

In late 2017 I was fortunate to win the only place a charity that had supported my late father when he was ill had. And that was it, I was hooked. After completing the 2018 London marathon I have gone on to run three further marathons and have loved every second (well nearly).

What got me hooked? The joy of working towards a goal, the adventure of finding new places to run and the confidence I have seen grow in myself as I did what I never thought was possible.  I have now set my sights on an ultra marathon. Following amazing stories of women in similar situations as me on Instagram and seeing them get back into sport later in life and achieving so much has also been so inspiring.

It’s amazing to see what women can do when they find the fire to do it.

Covid-19 impacted my exercise almost immediately with the postponement of the Brighton Marathon four weeks before the event was due to take place. I felt lost and without purpose. My running took a back seat and I lost focus.  I was then redeployed back to working within the NHS as a midwife having been working non-clinically as a safety investigator for 18 moths. This was a scary time for me and my family.

I knew that my exposure to Covid-19 would dramatically increase with work and wanted to ensure I kept this exposure to a minimum. Avoiding public transport was key in this.  Even though I was deemed as an essential worker, it was something I was not comfortable with. I also found myself extremely isolated away from family and friends.

Then as the Government guidelines on social distancing interactions were relaxed to allow meeting a person outside, I thought more about how I could enable myself to do this. The only way was to get a bike.  I had not ridden one in years other than on a holiday in Greece in 2019. When I moved to London in 2013, cycling in London was something I said I would never do.  I was terrified of the traffic and the thought of getting hurt.  But now I was in a situation that the only way I could alleviate my isolation was to travel to meet friends and family in parks across the capital. 

With advice from friends and Cycling UK, I bought myself a second-hand bike and a helmet and slowly started building my confidence riding it.

I initially just did the short commute to work, thankfully on mainly car free parkways and cycle routes. I then ventured out to parks that are slightly further away using running routes I have discovered over recent years. I recently even made my first trip into central London in months to have a socially distanced picnic with some of my running club (London City Runners).

Cycling in the midst of this pandemic has given me the safety of avoiding exposure, freedom and an escape from isolation.