It’s Tuesday lunchtime, the sun is breaking through the clouds and here I am on Reigate Hill, kitted out in my fab new Salomon gear and panting fit to burst. I think I may be sick.
Our coach’s voice cuts through loud and clear. “You think THAT was tough?” she shouts and I try, but fail, to stop swaying. “Good grief, that was only the photocall!”
“Yeah, but it was a TOUGH photocall,” I mutter under my breath as Eddie the Photographer urges us to do it again. And again. And again.
So this is me. Plodfoot Anne as I’m known to no-one else but myself, one of three Women’s Running readers chosen for Project Trail. It’s a project and it’s about trail running. It’s also about lots of training, making new friends and tackling one of the country’s toughest half-marathons, the Endurance Life Gower Half in November and most of all it’s about having a trail-ready body. It must be true, it says it in the magazine.
I’m not new to trail running, in fact I see no reason on earth to run on a road when there are trails full of nature and, if I’m lucky, mud and puddles. But while I’m comfortable on the wibbly wobbly soil and stones, I’m most definitely not comfortable with structured training, well, it’s hard, isn’t it?
But after coming last in the Ravenscar Half Marathon earlier this year, I decided enough was enough. I hadn’t trained properly, I hadn’t shown it sufficient respect and I was the poorer for it. It’s no disgrace to be the 175th and last runner in an undulating half marathon, but it’s nothing to be proud of either, especially when I could have done something about it.
So when I saw Project Trail’s promise of a ‘trail-ready body’, I could see my name written between the lines, along with the warning that much hard work would be needed. I knew if I wanted to avoid another bringing-up-the-rear episode. When I got the ‘congratulations’ email, I vowed I’d commit 110 per cent, maybe more. Starting with the photocall. I also committed Noel to be my training partner and to join us for the run, but shhhh, don’t tell him, he doesn’t know yet.
Our coach is ultra trail supremo Anne-Marie Latagan who promises to be firm, but fair. Though that’s before I’ve received the personalised training programme designed to make me Goddess of the Hill Ascent.
After the photocall, she took us on a hill-training taster session. The lovely Vicki, one of my fellow Project Trail members, is new to trails, so Anne-Marie was easy on her. She wasn’t easy on me.
I’m now recovering with a glass of something mildly alcoholic and a box of something very chocolatey. Well, I’ve earned it!