Whisky, watered with tears… A review of 2013

I don’t count the friends that have died in any single year, those whose health has had a down spell, or those who’ve had ops.  If I did I think I’d go slightly mad (and probably not in a good way).  Some view this as me not really caring, well those “some” don’t know me.

I’m not a surgeon, nor a doctor or a nurse… I can’t help other than being me, doing what I can to raise awareness and try and work behind the scenes to improve things.

Those who have died haven’t just been from my dickey-ticker world, friends and colleagues from work, others I know through my varied and mixed interests.  Each year I buy a decent bottle of Scotch, single malt (I have standards) and I hope that I can leave it on its shelf unopened. The Jura: Superstition is far, far too far down the bottle for it to have been a good year.

But it has been a year where I have done things I wasn’t sure that I would be able to…

I set myself the target of walking or running 25 miles a week on top of normal activity – normal/minimal activity for me is about 5 km a day.  My lovely little Fitbit (link) has faithfully kept a record of the steps I’ve taken.  With a little while to go I’m at 4575 km – so taking off that baseline (5x7x52 = 1820km) an extra distance of 2755km… 52km a week, which converting back to miles is 32 miles a week.  I’ve had weeks where I’ve come nowhere close to that, and weeks where I’ve gone much, much further.

I’ve a new favourite half-marathon, Cambridge – the people are lovely (a couple of them especially so!).  Its timing is perfect for a spring marathon and it is oh, so flat… The bridges are the main height gain!

I took on one of my greatest fears – running in the heat – and although I was last (and labelled on the system as a 50+ woman) I enjoyed the 30 miler in the Peak, yup a hot day in the Peak District.  Normally, I’m trying to work out if my feet will ever recover from being soaked in bog for hours at a time, so hot was novel.

If when I started this running lark I’d suggested that I’d be doing 105 miles in 3 ½ days I fear my friends would’ve sent me for a rapid psych assessment and an “intervention”.  Now, there’s a vague question along the lines of “Are you sure?” and often in quieter, more private, moments just a check that I’ve not bitten off too much.  The Cotswolds Way was beautiful, with a fantastic group of people who have carried on chatting and slapping each other on the back with each new challenge, and passed on tips and tricks as injuries mount.

To finish the year I did a bit of insanity – the Wirral is a short train ride away and for the last couple of years has boasted a circular trail, which they claimed at 35 miles… They lied it was 38 and ½ - a night walk, starting at dusk and finishing by dawn.  Endurance I don’t lack, stubbornness I don’t lack.

Away from the running lark, I’ve given talks with my various hats on – the Down’s Heart Group, British Cardiovascular Society and the Children’s Heart Association have all had the ‘pleasure’ of my insights into life and the lives of GUCHs.  Some even said they enjoyed them – so thanks to those inviting me, it is an honour.  Somewhere in the midst of all that I had an interesting year at work, new areas to be developed, old areas of experience to be maintained.

And so, the gaze moves from behind to in front…

The miles have got to go from quantity to quality.  I know I can endure, I know I can do 26.2 miles but can I get back to shape I was in for Belfast 2011? The focus is on London, via the Southport MadDog 10k, and the Cambridge Half… then The Fellsman (and hopefully not the kitchens this year), and then Liverpool for a Rock & Roll Marathon and then back to the Peak for the 30 mile Intro to Ultra.

There’s also a European GUCH conference to get the ECHG ready for, an OU module to finish, the day job to do and the rest of life to live.  I also have the hankering of another multiday hike; having done the Great Glen something else in Scotland appeals (the camping laws are so, so friendly).

I’ll also be going out and getting another bottle of Scotch, and I hope beyond hope that the stopper stays corked and no tears are needed to water it.

Thank you all for reading, I hope to see lots of you in 2014, stay safe and keep having fun




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