671 days ago I arrived in London, not knowing what I was in store for. I didn’t know anyone, didn’t have a job and barely knew the city. It was terrifying but exciting, and one of the biggest steps I’d taken in my life.
Now nearly two years later, I’m leaving again. I didn’t imagine that I would be departing so soon after arriving, but life has its way of bringing about new opportunities which you could never have dreamed of. I’m incredibly excited to be moving to Paris with the man I love – but it’s also heartbreaking to be leaving this amazing city that has become my home.
London is beyond words. I used to describe it as ‘life on steroids’ – it has so much going on that at first I felt entirely overwhelmed. But then I started to meet people who showed me everything that this city has to offer. Through various running groups, but mostly through Advent Running, I found like-minded runners striving to be their best. With them, I discovered the hidden canals and rivers around East London, ran my way along the Thames crossing every bridge, and laughed and chatted my way through the city.
My running has come forward leaps and bounds since arriving in London. I would never have had the courage to take on a crazy challenge like running 26.2 marathons by age 26.2 if I hadn’t been exposed to the running culture of this city. No matter what time of day you go out for a run, you are bound to pass another runner. If you want to run with a group on any day of the week, there are countless ones to choose from. There are so many races and events to take part in, so many places to explore.
London has taken me from being a first-time marathoner with not much knowledge of training, racing and nutrition to someone who qualified for Boston Marathon. It’s the city where I took on my first triathlon, and now I’ve complete a half-iron distance tri. Those are huge achievements, and I’m so happy that I’ve pushed myself to take them on.
I will miss this city so much. I will miss running through Victoria Park, Battersea Park, Hyde Park, Clapham Common – ALL the parks. I will miss cycling through its empty streets at 5am to get to a race. I will miss swimming in the Serpentine to the bemused looks of tourists. I will miss its vibrancy, its people.
But I’m excited for what lies ahead. Paris is an inspiring city, and I look forward to exploring it. I’m sure that my time there will bring with it as many exciting experiences as I have had in London, and I can’t wait to share them with you.
Onwards and forwards!