I started planning my fiftieth birthday about two years ago. I wanted a party, I wanted an exotic holiday, trekking, horse riding in Montana, China, Peru, whale watching, foothills of the Himalayas; I wanted sparkly, pretty things. You get the picture don’t you? Somehow between January 2015 and April 2016 my plans disintegrated, things changed – I blame running.
I ran my first half marathon in March 2015 as far as I can tell things went downhill from there! Before long the only clothes I bought had Lycra in them and my most expensive shoes had laces. Now instead of partying, going on holidays and mini breaks and generally leading the good life I am a third of the way through my year of running challenges to celebrate my 50th birthday and extra challenges keep appearing.
Between 08/01/2017 and 07/01/2018 I will have hopefully run five marathons, one for every decade. That was how it started, it seemed quite challenging but simple. I am starting and finishing with the happiest marathon in the world at the House of the Mouse. I love Disney. Slight twist to the tale; to end my year of running challenges I am going to run the Dopey Challenge – 5k, 10k, half marathon then Marathon. Four days, four races! Challenge accepted!
I ran my second marathon at Brighton. The next will be a trail marathon at Margam in July and then Snowdonia in October, arguably the hardest road marathon in the UK. That’s the five but I couldn’t leave it there. I wanted a showstopper! It should be a big challenge, something significant that’s what I thought. So running my first Ultra one month after my birthday made sense – 50 miles, who in their right mind chooses to run 50 miles? Running has changed me so much, who knew it was possible?
At the beginning of this year I had it all worked out. That was going to be my 50@50. It was going to be epic; I was going to be epic.
I think Mike was just joking at first but then the idea caught hold and now somehow I am facing my biggest challenge in October. Its isn’t going to be simple, it’s not just about me anymore, I can’t just keep my fingers crossed. This is my real challenge – I am going to have to work for this one. Its a good challenge though! 50 runners in Team Pontyclun Road Runners for the Cardiff Half Marathon including over 20 beginner runners <just call me Alfie>. Now that is a challenge!
So why am I doing this? I really don’t like running. The first ten minutes of every run is pretty much a battle of wills between mind, heart and body. Sometimes it hurts, sometimes it hurts a lot. I am not a runner. I bustle apparently and walk quite a bit too. I don’t glide or sprint, I am certainly not fast so why am I doing this? Running has taught me a lot about myself. I didn’t think I could run, not even 5k, certainly not 13.1 miles. 26.2 miles – don’t be ridiculous only really good runners run marathons! 50 miles… Well we will see, I am thinking 100k next year isn’t completely out of reach. I run because it means I meet interesting people, people who inspire me, who challenge me to think beyond my own limits.
So my 50@50 isn’t about me, it’s about you, your running and how we all get to the starting pens on October 1st. You won’t let me down will you, it’s my special birthday year, we need a few more sign ups to get to the magic number. You sign on the dotted line, I will do my best to get you there. We are going to the pub afterwards. It will be fun. Oh and those sparkly, pretty things I used to want as gifts… I earn them now. They come on ribbons and nice people hang them round your neck when you cross the finish line.