Did I really just do that?

Just over three years ago, with a single (very badly executed) marathon under my belt, I read a Juneathon blog about South Downs Way 100.  Being a curious soul, I went to the Centurion website to read more about it, and stumbled onto the Grand Slam page.

Hmmm.  I wonder if I could do that?  Don’t be daft.  Not in a month of Sundays*.  Oooh!  They also do coaching.  I wonder if they’d coach me or if they only coach serious, speedy people.

A week later, when I found myself thinking about the slam for the umpteenth time, I filled in a coaching enquiry form and waited for a polite “thanks, but no thanks” email.  Instead, I was quizzed about my current achievements and my future aspirations** and welcomed aboard.

At the time, the idea of “enjoying” a run never crossed my mind. I saw running as a convenient way to fit exercise into the week and also as a way to test my boundaries. Could I, the person who had used any and all means to avoid sports at school, learn to be a competent runner?  

It turns out that the answer is yes.  It took me over two years to bag my first 100 mile finish, and another four 100 mile races before I managed to go sub-24.  My progress hasn’t been meteoric and I suspect that I will never care enough about speed to make it my primary training aim, but by following the magic training plan*** and placing my trust in James****, I’ve discovered that running in general is fun, that trail running is a blast, that the ultra-running community is fabulous and that I can complete the grandslam.

If social media is to be believed, I’m an awesome, inspirational and amazing running hero who is the stuff of legend.  I’m flattered beyond belief, but what I really am is a rather ordinary couch potato who signed up on impulse with an extraordinary coach.

* 30 weeks, give or take.  It actually took a month of months to get to the start line of this year’s slam.

** I didn’t mention the slam for another 18 months, instead testing the water with “Um, Comrades Marathon?” because that seemed less outrageous.

*** It adapts itself to my time commitments, indulges my parkrun obsession, prompts me to explore new trails and knows when to ease off to prevent injuries.  It also occasionally tells me to rest HARD!

**** A100 course record holder. 14:35:40.  Looked as fresh as a daisy two and a half hours later as he pushed me out the door to start my final leg.


About abradypus

A Bradypus or Sloth am I, I live a life of ease, contented not to do or die but idle as I please; ... [Michael Flanders and Donald Swann]
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12 Responses to Did I really just do that?

  1. Andy says:

    You didn’t include the pics of your A100 or Grand Slam bling or either T-Shirt!

  2. cmmercer says:

    The extraordinary coach may have instilled confidence and belief in you, but at the end of the day it was you who had to put one foot in front of the other, over and over and over again. You are all the things that social media is telling you that you are. Huge congratulations on the Grand Slam Louise, I am so pleased for you!

  3. plustenner says:

    totally agree with Chris, you are an inspiration to all of us, and your mantra of ‘only a parkrun to go’ has got me through the last 3 miles of so many races. And thanks to you, I discovered volunteering at Centurion events and I guess you all know how much I love doing that! Bask in your well deserved glory for days to come, you are totally amazing. And you are a great friend, so supportive to all of us, randomly popping up to cheer and help crew, like at the Spitfire Scramble this year. You are a true legend Louise xx

  4. totkat says:

    Srsly, until this year there had been *no* *women* *at* *all* completed the grand slam and there you are. And what Chris said.

    You are amazing!

    • abradypus says:

      Except for Wendy Shaw, Mary Heald and the legendary Ann Bath in 2013 and Katharine Ganly and Ellen Cottom in 2014. But I agree, it does feel rather special to be in such an exclusive group of fabulous women.

  5. runtezza says:

    Fabulous abradypus! Very grandly slammed indeed πŸŽ‰πŸ’₯πŸŽƒ

  6. IAmKat says:

    Whoop whoop! What a way to finish things! Well done πŸ‘

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