As I write, Paris is 11 days away. The demi-marathon de Paris.

Being Fat: Something to Run From

See me? I didn’t run unless I was being chased – besides, who was going to chase me? I was always indoors with a book. The happy potato, snug and warm. The unhappy potato was made to run 1800m for Sports Day at school. I hit the wall – then I hit the track. Out cold.  Never again.

Then running became an ally in my ongoing battle of the bulge; a powerful upgrade from speedwalking. I clip a piece about interval running out of Zest magazine and it becomes my bible. A friend and I attempt 5am runs. Lea Bridge Road E10 was paved with good intentions back then.

By 2003 I’ve come down from nearly 12 stone to just over 10; size 16 to 12. The slimmest I’ve ever been.

‘Wow, look at those toned legs!’ my best friend once exclaimed. Yeah, baby! I rock short shorts all of summer 2006, and my parents high-fived each other – their good genes were showing through at last.  My nephew comes running with me and teaches me drills. It’s fun.

Addiction sets in. Home from work, drop off stuff, get my kit on, get out there.

Six in the morning? I know the freaks have finished getting it on and are about to leave, but I’m just getting started. Squirrels, bemused cats; the reds and blues of sunrise, streaked with grey and white clouds – I see it all.

Then… nothing.

I get lucky, then get lazy. I met a boy, put on weight, got fed up of being fat, made half-arsed attempts to exercise, decided staying indoors for copious amounts of food and sex was more fun instead of gymming it or pounding the pavements. The classic story.

2008 and Heartbreak

Boy is out of picture; gym makes his play for me. I lose a stone and gain a new wardrobe. My first Race for Life – my first medal. I discover samba dancing and give running a rest, in favour of shaking my arse. I’m the slimmest I’ve ever been – again.

Summer 2010 – Year of the Tortoise

Bangs and a Bun put me on to Run Dem Crew. Led by Charlie Dark, the Tortoises end up running 10k by accident, instead of a gentle 5k. I tell Charlie that I was hoping to run a 10k one day.  We do not reach the Olympic Park, but I reach a watershed. I hurt all over, but I pushed myself. It felt good.

Dear Diary, 24th August: my brother’s birthday, and the day my inner runner was born.

I struggle, get impatient, and ditch the Couch to 5k app for a Nike+ Sportband. Plug and play! My motivation shoots up – I’m kicking ass, logging miles, and have the stats to prove it. I start buying running magazines, and paying attention to my diet and my gear. I win a place on the Grazia/Nike Running ‘Fashion 5K’.  I still don’t break any records – my place is perpetually at the back – but the free Lunarglides, gear and goodies salve my ego.

Can you spot me?

Moment of Truth

I post my run results, as per usual, on Twitter and Facebook. I’d quietly ignored the initial call from Bangs and A Bun to sign up for the Paris half marathon; I mean, I’m doing the Boutique Run 10k in July2011, and that’s more than enough.

‘Come on, you can do it,’ comes the siren call. Charlie Dark piles on the pressure. ‘I’ve seen you run, so I know you can do it’. Oh, Gawd. Leave me alone to make my excuses, nuh man?!

Then I remember that my mother has done at least 2 half-marathons, albeit walked. She is  nearly 70 years old. I am 31. I run out of the few – well, zero – compelling reasons I have to say no. So I say yes.

I look at training plans and tremble with fear. How am I supposed to run 8, 10, 11 miles all in one go? Who does that, 12 miles? What in the actual fuck?


My boyfriend buys me a marathon training book. He gets twitchy about arranging a trip to Paris in the spring. He dumps me; we were together 18 months. He knew the Paris team was raising cash; he did not donate.

People I have never met have sent money to support me and my team.

I train, and train alone – for the most part. Just before Christmas 2010 I met up with some of the Paris crew; we meet again and run together.  I commit more time to RDC. I’m frustrated at my lack of speed. ‘You can build up your speed for the next one,’ Charlie says. Haha, who told you I was doing another one?

Um… I’ve signed up for another one.

Personality transplant

I’ve become one of those people who talk about having done ‘only’ six miles. I meet up with people and we run; we enjoy it. I have a legitimate reason to feed my Stella McCartney for adidas and Sweaty Betty obsession. I start rolling out my IT band. I didn’t know what either of those things were 6 months ago.

Nike+ tells me I’m officially  a badass for having run a total of 100 miles (I’m now on my way to 200).

Not just a ‘badass’, though:

‘You’re a straight soldier! I salute you.’

‘I don’t know how you do it.’

‘You’re an inspiration.’

‘You’re insane.’

‘You’re a skinny bitch.’

‘You’re disappearing.’

‘If someone had said you’d be so sporty, I’d never have believed it.’

‘I’m going to take a leaf out of your book and get out more.’

My fellow Team Bangs girls are excited – and panicked about how we will wee during the race. Some of us drop out, with bad shins, bad backs, and heavy hearts.  Toenails pop off. Toes go black. Physio is had.

Walking in the Air

Sometimes I whiz through my runs. Sometimes I struggle to lift my legs out of the knee-deep treacle they seem to be stuck in.

Sometimes I hate myself, sometimes I feel so amazing and on top of the world and ready to take ALL you motherfuckers on. Especially you. I pound your face into the concrete with every step.

I spread my wings, and achieve something a childhood of praying and jumping off the arm of my sofa with makeshift paper wings couldn’t: flying.

My parents are proud of me. I’m the slimmest I’ve ever been – again.

Paris is 11 days away, and counting.

Runnin’ – the Pharcyde

Find me on Nike Running as Ruby_A