Not quite so catchy as the Spice Girls song, but you do need love like you’ve never needed love before when it comes to triathlon, so perhaps it’s quite a good analogy really.

In my case, Best Beloved shows his love by tolerating me. We’ve devised a number of ways around the (only very slight) difference in our preferred times of day: the bathroom fan is turned off from 10pm when I’m usually about to go to bed, I leave his light on and wear an eye mask if I’ve had too many coffees that day and need some extra help winding down, clothes for the next morning dumped in the bathroom so that that’s the only light that goes on at 0520 when he’s in whatever phase it is when you aren’t going to come to for at least another 2 hours – preferably four.

OK, so I’m not training for an Ironman, but I’m spending twice as much time training as I did for the marathon in three different sports. Plus strength training. So four, really. On pretty much a daily basis I find myself wondering who this body snatcher is making almond milk protein powder smoothies in the blender at half five in the morning. More startling, however, is that nobody who knows me well seems to be surprised!

As 2 July gets closer, and the sacrifices keep mounting up. The latest – my friend is getting married in Liverpool the day before Holkham, and quicker than you could say “what colour are the bridesmaids wearing?” I’d WhatsApped her to let her know we’d LOVE to go, and of COURSE BB and I would sing in the choir, but we’d have to leave the reception before the food came out, because we would have to drive to Norfolk. Not from London, but from Liverpool. Which, of course, means we have to drive to Liverpool in the first place. Totally logical and normal thing to do, yes?

The frog is well and truly boiling, the water bubbling around her sheeny slime pearlescent form, the little froggy with no intention of leaping out to freedom to live out the rest of her days leaping from lily pad to lily pad back in the pond with her garden-dwelling chums.

With just over six weeks to go until the big day (mine, of course, not Crosby’s most eligible bachelorette), it’s time to thank/curse the people and things that created this monster:

  1. Smear tests. Unusual, yes, and awkward for many people so I’ll keep it short and to the point. They’re great. Go and get one, then you’ll know if you’ve got pre-cancerous cells that can be removed, meaning you probably won’t get cervical cancer in 10 years time. Gives you a bit of perspective, and a will to spend some time getting to know your body.
  2. Classical music. I used to do this professionally and full time. I now do it professionally and part time, and make stuff happen as a public servant the rest of the time. Running and other challenges were part of working through that feeling that all of my energy wasn’t going in the right direction. This is totally tied up with being a chronic overthinker – not a mental illness but understanding it is part of mental health. Exercise and mindfulness helped me change my life from driving a wobbly old Nissan Micra to a robust VW Golf (minus the dodgy emissions, though I do love a curry).
  3. Alan. I used to work for Alan, and we stayed in touch. He was a trustee of a charity that runs a sprint triathlon in the town where I now live, and when I moved he “suggested” me and BB might volunteer. Those 4 hours standing on a chilly street corner just made me want to join in. A year later, both me and BB entered and you’ve seen what happened next.
  4. My thirties. Sort of similar to 1) and 2), I’m yet to have the big wobble that comes with being thirty, although I had quite a few in my mid- to late-twenties so I think the books are probably balanced. I’m finding I care a lot less about what people think, and that the continuous procession of weddings and babies from my nearest and dearest continually challenges me to refocus on what I’ve got and to see that I am lucky and loved, whatever my “family” consists of. Still takes a good few miles of running to help me see that, but I get there.
  5. Dad. He gets out there and does stuff. My inner duracell bunny comes from him. We don’t talk about the fact that my parkrun PB is now 2 mins faster than his… Also Mum, and Grandma Jean. The bit that comes from Mum (equally important though possibly cancelled out by the chocolate-loving gene), via Grandma Jean, is grit. It’s like the bit of the Monty Python Yorkshiremen sketch where they “get up before we’d gone to bed, lick road clean wi’t’tongue”. Except from a bit further up the coast.
  6. People. I work with and have previously worked with and have in my life so many wonderful, challenged, triumphant people. Why could possibly go wrong..?!

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