Hey there, and welcome to my blog, Racingtales! I’m a runner and triathlete who loves to train and race. I live in Virginia but am originally from London. I’m a member of Potomac River Running’s Race Team and Maverick Multisport’s Age Group Triathlon Team, as well as South Riding Running Club.. I’m fortunate to be sponsored by some great companies whose products I love and fully endorse. Potomac River Running and Maverick Multisport are my main sponsors. In addition, I I love GU energy gels. It’s a little-known fact that I consumed EIGHT GUs and a couple of bags of Honey Stinger chews – and very little else, save a few Pringles – during my first 50K in 2011, which I raced in my Brooks Cascadias. I was 3rd female overall. 🙂
After working for 20 years as an Instructional Designer, a career that gave me some fantastic opportunities and several gray hairs, I decided to become a teacher. I’m currently substitute teaching while I work toward obtaining my license to teach Middle and High School English! An English English teacher – fancy that!
Read on for the whole, unadulterated, unabridged story of my racing career…
Back in 1984, when I was 11 years old, the school PE teacher recruited me to participate in a marathon relay against other schools across the region. Teams of six or so took turns running 800m legs around a track until we’d completed 26.2 miles. It would be another 22 years before I’d attempt the marathon distance on my own, but from that moment I was hooked.
While I enjoyed the race itself, I relished the training, which mostly consisted of running short sprints in the gym and doing crunches and push ups and such. Once a week, in PE, we also ran cross-country, which soon became my favorite event. We’d head off into the woods and for 19 glorious minutes (the time it took for me to run the 2.4 mile course) I was all alone, breathing in the fresh air and listening to my footsteps.
Track was another matter. I didn’t particularly like track running. Granted, the “track” at public schools in England was grass; white chalk was simply used to mark the lanes on the playing field. At some schools, the track was on a hill; our track, while flat, had molehills in the finishing straight. So I learned from an early age how to pick up my feet to avoid obstacles, which was helpful for cross country! But the monotony inevitable in running circles and the exposure I felt from people being able to see me falter at any time made track running my least favorite event. I worked hard at it, however, because there was one girl who could beat me; that is, until she took up smoking and inevitably quit running.
At 16, I joined the local running club, Southampton City A.C. (A.C. stands for Athletic Club; in England track and field are known as “athletics.”) The track where we trained was a real rubber track, and we always ran on it in spiked shoes. Getting “spiked” by another runner was a regular occurrence. We also wore spikes for cross-country, trading out the 5mm track spikes for more dangerous 9mm or even 12mm ones; those left a mark.
I never excelled on the track, for reasons stated above, but I did well in cross-country and spent my winter weekends running for the club in league races – we ran in both Wessex (as in Thomas Hardy’s Wessex) and Hampshire leagues. Occasionally we’d take a ferry over to France to race against French teams. French cross-country was a different experience; while in England cross-country inevitably consisted of hills, mud, and more hills, in France it was the norm to run around a pancake flat field (which also contained pancakes left by the cows that had been temporarily removed) with man-made obstacles such as logs. I have very fond memories of my trips to France!
At 18, I secured a spot on the team for the prestigious English Schools Cross Country Championships. This was the biggest event I had ever participated in – there were 400 girls in my race (senior girls, age 15-18) alone. It was exciting because there were so many famous (in running circles) names at the event, including Paula Radcliffe, who is now the women’s marathon world-record holder. She was 2nd; I was 249th. 🙂
Fast-forward 25 years and I’m still racing! In 2009 I added triathlon to my repertoire, which includes everything from 5K to the marathon, both on the road and the trail. In 2011 I raced my first 50K and Half Ironman events. In 2013 I ran Boston Marathon for the second time and requalified. I also got a 40 minute PR at Ironman 70.3 Raleigh, placing 3rd in my age group and qualifying for the 70.3 World Championship, which I turned down. (Two years later I requalified at Raleigh and this time I took the slot, traveling to Austria in August to compete, which was the experience of a lifetime!)
In August 2013 I competed at the USA Triathlon Sprint National Championship in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. I finished 15th in the 40 – 44 age group, securing a spot on Team USA for the 2014 ITU World Championship in Edmonton, Canada! That experience was second-to-none, walking with Team USA in the parade of athletes and of course competing in the event itself, running down the finishing straight with a mini Stars and Stripes in my hand! I could not have been more proud to represent my adopted country!
I hope you enjoy my blog.