I kicked off 2019 with a New Years Day double parkrun, and haven’t looked back! Parkrun was the place that started off my love affair with running, and it just keeps getting better! This year I ran 41 parkruns, in 17 different locations, including my first two international parkruns in Denmark and Germany. I managed to get my PB down to under 25 minutes, something I honestly never thought was possible. My children have flourished at junior parkrun, earning their marathon wristbands, and gaining new confidence. I celebrated my 100th parkrun this year surrounded by my wonderful running friends and family. I met my idol, parkrun founder Paul Sinton-Hewitt (twice!), and spoke of my love for parkrun on national TV. Parkrun will always be for me the perfect way to start my weekend, and long may it continue.
Looking back now, winning my 2019 London Marathon place feels like it was a real turning point for me. It was exactly the push I needed, to get me out of my comfort zone, and running longer distances. That whole spring training cycle was an amazing experience, not only for discovering what my body was capable of, but for the many wonderful friends I met along the way. I feel a real part of the Twitter and Instagram running community, who are always there for online and real-life support! I would love to meet a lot more of you in person next year. London was an incredible marathon, but so so hard! I crossed that finish line happy, but also exhausted, and slightly broken. I signed up for my second marathon, Berlin, with a sense of unfinished business, and set to my summer training with a determination that saw me take 40 minutes off of my marathon PB! I met a fabulous group of runners, all supporting the charity Spinal Research, and managed to raise over £2000 for my marathon charities throughout the year. I smashed my 5k, 10k, 10mile and half marathon PB’s, and I think I’ve still got more to give.
Looking in the mirror, I hardly recognise myself from the Gail of previous years. I’m over 15 pounds lighter, my skin looks brighter, and my clothes certainly fit a lot better!
The biggest change this year however has to be in my mindset. I started 2019 feeling a bit chubby and slow, seeing myself as a frumpy looking mum somewhat past her prime, and wondering if someone like me could ever make it to the finish line of the London Marathon. And now? Well obviously I’m still not a competitive athlete, but I finally see myself as a fully-fledged RUNNER, rather than a beginner runner. I have a new-found confidence in myself and my appearance which had been missing for many years. I can’t wait to see what challenges and adventures 2020 will bring!