It was 2012. I was lying on my living room floor, flicking through a copy of Women’s Running Magazine when I saw the feature.
“Going to miss your long runs now your marathon training is done? Then maybe, just maybe, ultra marathoning should be your next goal.”
The Women’s Running feature was a project. They’d choose four women to run an ultra marathon of their choice. They’d be trained by two of the UK’s best running coaches, and brands such as Salomon, would kit them out with running shoes and clothes and sports nutrition. There would be sports science testing in laboratories and photoshoots and interviews and articles in the magazine.
I wanted to be one of those four women.
And so I applied. Right then. Typed up an email, filled in the application form and pressed send.
I’d never done anything like that before. On such a whim. I was always too scared. I had a big life-long story about not being good enough. Always staying in the shadows, never stepping forward, keeping quiet – not saying what I really wanted to say. I’d been digging deep in therapy for a while, working through it, and this, this was the first time I had really grabbed that big life-long story by the throat, pinning it against the wall and looking it square in the eyes and saying actually, I am good enough.
I remember sitting in the chair opposite Sue, my therapist – the woman who picked me up when I was on my knees and dusted me off – telling her that I’d applied for this ultra-marathon feature and shit! what if they choose me, Sue?
She smiled and looked back at me, hands in her lap, “Well, then they choose you, Liz.”
To hear back from Women’s Running Magazine.
It was a long time. Enough time for me to know that they didn’t want me. That they’d thrown my application away. That they’d found someone better.
And then. An email. Sitting in my inbox. From the editor.
“If you were chosen for the ultra, would you be willing to forego your place in the Berlin Marathon? Maybe defer it until 2013? We have to think about your health and wellbeing.
Let me know. Kind regards, Christina.”
Ah. The Berlin Marathon. It was a week before the ultra-marathon. I’d already signed up. I didn’t think it would be a problem. I’d told them about it in my application. I was running the marathon for charity. In memory of my mum. There was no way of foregoing it. I didn’t know what to do.
I wanted to be part of the feature so badly, and yet the Berlin marathon was incredibly important to me. People had sponsored me to do it. Thousands of pounds for charity. No way.
I opened my email and hit reply. Ready to back out, slink away like I always did, back into the arms of my big, lifelong story.
You are not enough.
And then. No. No. I wanted this. And you are enough. Kind of. I think. Don’t back out, come on, Liz. Come on.
Deep breath in. I replied. Fingers frantically hitting the keyboard. I told her why she’d be crazy not to pick me, that I looked after myself, that my legs were strong, that I was strongand that I wanted a challenge. That I wanted to be in the ultra marathon team.
And then I did something I had never done before. I followed up that email with a phone call. Like, real human to human speaking. I got her voicemail. Relief. And then waivering. Now what? What do I say? I pretended to be confident, maybe I was confident? and literally begged her to pick me. Banging the phone receiver done so fast afterwards, heart beating, holy shittttttt what am I doing?
I opened up my email again, new message: “Hi Christina, I just left a garbled message on your answer machine. To follow up from my last email (and garbled message), I just wanted to add that I aim to run the Berlin marathon extremely slowly.”
She emailed the next day.
I was in.
“You can’t just sit there and wait for people to give you your dream. You’ve got to get out there and make it happen for yourself.” – Diana Ross