Jess’ Month in Running – September ’23
September has been a huge month for me. It’s one I’ve been training for all year, and yet I didn’t consider it would be so tough until it actually got here.
I have a habit which most people tell me I’m crazy for: I enter too many races. For me, races aren’t always my end goal. I enter my main races of the year and then I enter ones which help to keep my training on track in the lead up to these ‘A’ races. There’s something about the race atmosphere – the buzz of everyone else running around you – which keeps me motivated to keep going until the end. I know once I’ve signed up for a race I’ll complete that distance (hopefully) and use it as a reference point to see if I’m on track with my training.
At the beginning of the month, I took part in the London Duathlon – one of the world’s largest duathlon races. Now for me, the duathlon is ideal, as I’m a triathlete who doesn’t like swimming… Plus, I’ve done this race twice already and since it’s on my doorstep in Richmond Park it’s a win-win.
But the downside of races is comparison. They say that comparison is the biggest thief of joy and sometimes it’s hard to ignore. For me, I compare mostly against myself, and at this point I didn’t feel like my training was going well or that I was my best self. However, somehow I came away as the female winner! This just goes to show that sometimes we have more in the tank than we even expect from ourselves.
In September I was also super lucky to be able to go out to Mallorca for a week to celebrate Steph Davis’ wedding. I know there’s a divide on whether you’re a holiday runner or relaxer, but going to an Olympic marathon runner’s wedding meant it was only fitting I should get a few runs in with the bride. After a heavy couple of weeks of running, though, I spent most of the holiday eating nice food and recuperating.
A week post-Mallorca and I was off again to Italy for my ‘A’ event of the year: Ironman. Words cannot describe how much this terrified me. It left me doubting myself once again and wondering why we ever enter these races in the first place. My 3.8km swim was fine, the 180km bike not so good, but then it was my favourite part – the marathon. Just four laps to end a brutal day of hard grafting. It felt hard! My feet had swollen so much in the 30 degree heat I needed to undo my shoe laces completely, and at this point timings were out the window. Queuing for the toilet about 20km in, I realised that my run was still at a fairly strong time for me.
It’s amazing what that headspace shift can do for you. Instead of cursing myself for falling behind, I told myself I could do it. I told myself how proud my friends and family back home would be of me for just getting through the distance, no matter what time I did. However, calculations in my head kept my brain distracted and I gradually turned up the pace for the next lap and then gave it everything I had for that final lap. I finished the marathon in a time of 3 hours and 33 minutes.
In a total time of 11 hours and 26 minutes, I’d completed my second full Ironman. Somehow all of the training and hard work felt worth it as I took in what I’d just done. We can do more than we ever think possible, so why not just ‘let your mind run’?
I finished the month on a high and as every month should – with a Running Channel challenge. Myself, Sarah and three other incredible women took on the challenge of running the length of Hadrian’s Wall as an all-female relay team. I’ll let you watch the video for yourself, so keep your eyes peeled for its release. But let’s just say that running 140km with a group of people you’ve only just met makes for a great day out in the countryside!