Got any, dear reader? (I’m optimistic there must be one of you out there). It’s a good thing isn’t it determination, I think we’re all agreed? It’s right up there with a bit of back bone and a stiff upper lip. Take last week for example and my forth attempt at the Llanelli Half Marathon. A fun event, brilliantly staged at the end of February when you’ve still barely got your new trainers out of their Christmas wrapping. If you like running into a strong westerly gale laden with freezing drizzle, this is the one for you www.llanellihalf.co.uk#LetsGoRunning (just in case you’re tempted). It’s a great run for the skin, as you jog out to the 6.5 mile marker, that pesky gale scoops up the sand from the Millennium Coastal Path blasting one side of your face, then tackles the other cheek on the way home. You are guaranteed to finish with a smooth rosy glow!
So it was absolutely the right call to chuck a large handful of determination into my running bag, along with my race number (which makes me chuckle, I promise there was absolutely no racing to be had under that number) 4 safety pins, banana (to look like a proper athlete finishing) packet of chocolate digestives (for secret ‘not a real athlete’ finishing), Mars bar, second (glutton) Mars bar, £82.50 for a few Costa’s, to warm up and get my circulation going obviously, oh and lunch money for MacDonalds. I used up most of that handful of determination during mile eleven, and wished I’d stuffed in a bit more for mile twelve and thirteen, still the thought of the remaining contents of my running bag certainly helped get my stingy, hot, throbbing feet to stagger over that finish line in a time they’d never quite staggered before (thank you very much, I’ll take that finishers medal and wear it with pride).
I was still wearing said medal when skimming Facebook (not proper looking, mind, because that would imply I had no life and a social media habit) mid-week to discover some runner friends who’d dashed round the Llanelli course the weekend before were re-packing to whizz round another 13.1 miles the following weekend! I removed my medal, having been doused in inadequacy and pondered how determined you must have to be to attempt back-to-back races, clearly much more than me. I am in awe super human running people, you know who you are, may your blisters burst peacfully.
But with most things that are seen as a virtue, if you turn over determination and check out it’s under belly, you may get a glimpse of its evil twin brother. At the weekend my smalls needed air, a race along the beach to tire them out in time for a peaceful Saturday evening with a cheeky glass of Prosecco or two (me not them) seemed like a brainwave. Small two has just started school and spent most of the beach run carefully (and with a great deal determination) writing her name in the sand with a stick. She did well, there were definitely some fully formed letters a few of which were even in her name. I did coffee and the smalls were absolutely determined to do ice cream: “It’s minus five, the ice cream will freeze, don’t you want chocolate?” Of course not! They beat me back to the car and as I loaded all their junk into the boot I caught sight of small two standing with a wee sharp stone in her tiny fingers, her face creased with determination as she painstakingly scratched her name onto the door of the car, with such determination she scratched through to metal. “There! I’ve doned it right this time Mummy, look.”