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London Calling

Oct 7

Posted by: ACHA
10/7/2013 12:52 PM  RssIcon

By Paul Willgoss

A lot of people have bucket lists – those things we want to do before we give in, start pushing up daisies or go and see the deity of your choice. For me? Well, I am greedy and have a selection of buckets, one of which is my run bucket:

  • Run a half-marathon with no walking – done it once.
  • Run a sub-60 min 10k – 62:55 min is my personal best. With 175 seconds to shave off, it’s a work in progress.
  • A sub-30 min 5k – done it at 29:15. It’s also what I need to run two of to achieve the goal right above.
  • Run the London Marathon.

This is a tale of desire. When I first entered the London Marathon ballot six long years ago, I had hoped it would be the fitting conclusion to my first challenge year (back then it was a thousand miles in a year). However, London has a ballot system that gives you at best a one in three chance of getting a number, and I didn’t get in. So, I ran Edinburgh, in a freakish heat wave that led to me getting sunburned so bad I blistered.

The following year, same again, but I was lucky in some ways as I was the last year to be given a rolling guarantee – fail to get in five times on the bounce and you get guaranteed entry.

Liverpool, my home marathon, came and went. Brutal Belfast with its howling wind, torrential rain, and a seven-mile hill became my personal best. In between the half marathons came fun runs, the 5k and 10k training runs, and my eyes started being drawn in other directions.

Run an ultra-marathon – was this even possible for me? Nottingham 50k was trained for, and I did it and I smiled. A bug had bitten me – how far could I go? This year has had another 30-miler and the 105 mile special.

It also included another big, hairy bug – running off road. So some of these runs have gotten muddy, rocky, slippy and slimy. I’ve lost toenails and stained my feet with the chemicals in the peat I’ve run through. This year all I have left to complete is the off-road marathon and my 2013 races are done.

Which brings me back to next spring, April in London. The six year wait is over, London has called, it is the 26.2 miles that started me taking my running seriously and now I get the chance to go and thank it in the best way possible – by pounding the streets hard!

Through all of the miles my circle of friends, ACHDers and not, have watched on amazed, and occasionally worried, as I’ve finished time and time again. My cardiologist likes the print-outs of my heart rate and that I know when to slow down, which isn’t yet, for London is calling…

Marathon runner, GUCH (Grown Up with Congenital Heart Disease), long-distance hiker, charity trustee, patient advocate and whisky lover—Paul Willgoss is all of these and more. A member of the Most Honourable Order of the British Empire, his efforts both in front and behind the scenes for those with congenital heart defects have been recognized at the highest levels in his native U.K.

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