Dineke Austin aka 'Running Biddy' - Blog 1: House of the Risin' Sun ('don' do what I have done')

Blog attempt #3: all will be revealed (for those who don’t follow Facebook).

Hello: a new Eagle, complete with very novice L plates, and errors to match.

A schoolgirl hater of all things sporty: where  - and WHY! - did my running journey begin? In 2013, my partner Trev was smitten by a pang of community conscience to volunteer as a marshal at the EHM. A free place for 2014 followed, so duty compelled me to marshal at a water station (no ‘nowty’ lorry drivers for me, thank you!). Did I take up my free place? You bet not. Trev being laid up in bed for the rest of the day; with erupting cold sores for the rest of the week, was little enticement.

2015 and Trev paid for his entry. Another water marshal role for me (the steel band at St Stephen’s is well worth the position). However…rushing down Argyle and Northfields to see Trev finish, and meeting all the (unknown) runners with beams and medals, left me feeling a tad left out.

Christmas 2015, and Trev bought me a year’s membership for a local gym. As I said to him (sorry Trev!): the worst present I’d ever had! However, the Dutch are as ‘careful’ with money as are Yorkshire lads (aka Trev), so reluctantly I made use of it.

And this is where it truly began: the self-competitive spirit that I’d used academically and professionally (for too long) reared its head, and before I knew it I was trying to beat my records on treadmill and cross-trainer! By April, I was wondering why someone with a lifelong love of the open air and hiking (my only previous claims to exercise) was pounding plastic indoors with ‘essence of exudation’!

Osterley has long been my favourite place in West London, so I asked to be entered for Osterley 10k in June 2015. After running round Blondin Park two evenings a week; I took part on just my 15th post-school run ever. (Beginners: what Beginners! I said ‘don’t do what I have done’!)  Looking back, I am amazed that I managed 1:01:49 on that ‘preparation’ (sic). At the time, I was outraged at that hour: the challenge was on! In September 2015 I took part in the Kew 10k: 54:06

After Trev took part in EHM for his 3rd time, and I met him like a bridesmaid always looking on, I saw the Ealing Eagles stand, and said “Let’s join.” We did.

Did I make use of everything that I now know EE offer? Did I know about Parkrun? Did I know about warming up and cooling down? (Rhetorical questions.)

Despite this, I managed 53:45 in November 2015 at the West London 10k, but only Dutch long legs got me there by luck rather than trained design. Inevitably, at Kingston in February 2016, I pulled what I only much later realised was my left hamstring, and was off and on running for months for much of that year. High spots as well as low spots:

Regular club runs;

Regular Parkruns;

Personal Trainer as a birthday present;

Subscription to running magazines;

Nutrition plans…

But most of all: the joys of volunteering, and becoming involved!

First race more than 10k: Fullers 10 mile in April 2016; first half marathon in Reykjavik in August 2016 (1:57:51!); first age prize for Wimbledon Common 10k in October (received via post as I was sitting for lunch with Trev, off running: I cried “I’ll never be able to do that again!”).

It would be lovely to think I had learned my lessons by then…but I always have learned the hard way ‘...our impulses are too strong for our judgement sometimes’.

Despite intervals with Richard, involvement with Wei Hei’s Beginners, a LiRF course in July 2017; and very patient mentoring by an excellent and experienced Eagle to get me to marathon readiness, my first marathon was City of Gloucester in August 2017 (4:06:33) – and I was disappointed – instead of feeling very very privileged. I also seemed to feel I was accident-protected, so not only took on my main goal – the Amsterdam Marathon (3:59:00) in October 2017 – but beforehand the Hillingdon Racing Miles marathon challenge (3: 57:46) in early October, AND the Thames Meander Marathon on 4th November… 4:19:10. Three marathons in 5 weeks. Disregarding all advice.

What possessed me I now have no idea! I don’t think I was suffering from hubris, I was loving it, but: I am not a Melissah or Piers, et al. And: at times it is worth remembering one’s date of birth!

Where did that leave me: a relatively minor over-stretching accident on marathon 3 left me sitting out some running, even races: just as I had joined the 12in12 challenge team. And – sorry Sarah – just as the much-anticipated x-country season began!

I came back for Osterley Winter 10k, to gain the age prize (despite wrong dob placing me in 55+ category – another lesson learned: always check!); only to have a freak ice accident over Christmas whilst under careful supervision from physio and PT; followed by another, while out with Beginners 2 weeks ago; which this time has resulted in complete cessation of running…just after winning a coveted, undreamed of, VLM ballot place! Thomas Hardy would have described the timing as ‘one of life’s little ironies’.

I very nearly gave up on VLM for this year; all my carefully-laid plans for a 16-week training schedule are now in their 3rd revision; the next blog is in danger of being a treatise on PHT: proximal hamstring tendinopathy.

However, as others have said before me: without Ealing Eagles, I wouldn’t have had the year’s running I had last year; I wouldn’t have had the support and camaraderie; the many volunteering opportunities; and I certainly wouldn’t have had the VLM opportunity I still have. Has ‘the President of the Immortals ended his sport’ with me?

As authors write, ‘any errors are entirely my own’: QED ‘don’ do what I have done’.