Write This Run: Mission Accomplished!

On Sunday I had the opportunity to speak at the Write This Run run blogger conference just outside of London.  What a phenomenal event and phenomenal experience for me, and from what I’ve been reading it seems that everyone who attended felt the same.

I was contacted early this year by Laura Fountain of Lazy Girl Running to see if I would be interested in speaking at a new event in the British blogging world. 

“Finally!” I thought to myself (and wrote as much to Laura) – the creation of a conference geared to the running blogging community in the UK!  This is something that I feel has been lacking for a long time over here, and something I have watched from afar as my US Twitter and blogging friends have attended conferences and taken their online networks into real life experiences for what have always looked to be smashing weekends.

But to be asked to speak? Me? And on an inspirational panel?  I was kind of overwhelmed to say the least.

In November last year I had the opportunity to speak to the Charcot Marie Tooth Association Support and Action Group conference.  When I was there, I had the opportunity to meet John Paul Mendocha aka Mr SpeedSell.  John listened to my presentation and gave me some honest feedback.  He told me that he loved my message – which to that audience was that everyone is an athlete and that all of us with CMT should stay active however we can – but that I needed some hooks to take the story to a bigger audience.  He told me to focus on how it all started – to talk about the shoe store that wouldn’t sell me the shoes – and then to show lots of images on what I have done since that day – ending with a few key messages. (By the way, if you would like to see some of the images I used in my presentation as well as the accompanying videos, you can find them on my blog Facebook page where I will be posting them over the coming week…)

When Laura asked me to speak, without hesitation I said YES.  And then I spent months thinking about my messages, the images to use, and more importantly, how on earth to tell my story… I had to confront my doubts – doubt number one being that I think my story is not particularly special, because I think that we all have stories to tell. 

By the start of May I finished my slides, and as I wrote about on Monday, Write This Run happened at the end of two weeks of hectic work. I got back from Chicago on Saturday intending to run through my presentation, but instead collapsed from tiredness.  I woke up early intending to rehearse, but instead made and consumed a gigantic breakfast (I blame *that* on time zone differences and a big training day on Saturday).  Then I thought okay I will at least read everything over on the train, but then I didn’t as I met up with a few bloggers and enjoyed a nice chat en route to the venue.  Finally I thought maybe I would have a chance to go to a quiet spot and review my slides before talking, but then I got totally sucked into the conference. 

I know I was there to speak – and I did. I had a great time telling my story, even without the normal run through that I do to get rid of my nerves.  And the event?  Like I said, I got totally sucked into the conference. Just wow. 

What a well planned event with a fantastic agenda and great speakers.  Kicking off with PR aspects, the inspiration panel (when I got to speak alongside of Kevin Betts and Mimi Anderson) before lunch, post lunch social media experts, post coffee break running experts, and ending with a run with Team GB member and 2 hour 10 minute marathoner Scott Overall.  The flow of the day was perfect, the weather cooperated, the speakers all engaging, and the audience?  Equally inspiring – I left feeling like a missing part of my blogging life could be complete as I was introduced to a community in the UK that I previously had not really met (talk about looking in all the wrong places!).

You can find links to all of the many blogs summarising the day on the Write This Run Facebook page.  This image from Cake of Good Hope is a great visual representation of how the day went.  As you can see, a perfect flow!

Some of my personal takeaways from the day?

1. Never doubt the power of writing and running.  Rhalou put it well – if wealth is measured in terms of love and happiness, you can become very very rich through both!

2. When you have a goal that matters to you, even the seemingly impossible becomes achievable.  Kevin Betts and his 52 marathons each under four hours all on subsequent weekends and 27 of them on a treadmill is living proof of this. I left thinking each of us can and should find that type of passion in our lives…

3. It helps to memorise the faces of those speaking at conferences before you go.  I was chatting away to world record holder and ultramarathoner Mimi Anderson for a good five minutes before it suddenly dawned on me that *she* was the badass ultramarathoner that I had read about.

4. And speaking of Mimi, listening to her stories made me want to go out and run hundreds of miles.  Because that is what happens when I listen to people with drive and passion – I become infected with their virus, and suddenly I start to wonder what I actually *could* do, and if I even have any true physical limitations.  Because, yeh, well Mimi makes it look easy… At a minimum Mimi reinforced that I should never stop thinking big. Ever.

5. Laura equated blogging with Eastenders (a British soap opera of sorts) – there is the big theme, and then each post is a little episode.  This really resonated with me, it was a great way of thinking about blogging.

6. Before speaking at a conference it helps to spend some time thinking about who exactly you are speaking to and what they might hope to get out of your talk.  I had asked Laura this question a few times, and based on my emails with her and my November conversation with John I decided how to tell my story.  I knew the idea was to “inspire” so I thought a lot about how I could possibly inspire runners who quite frankly are the ones who inspire me! (Oh to be able to run a constant 10 minute mile!)  Anyway, I think the forethought helped me to hit the mark (I hope so).  I would venture to say that 90% of the speakers succeeded at meeting audience expectations.

7. It is very cool to meet people who you have previously only emailed. I loved meeting Nathaniel from RunDemCrew, and really really look forward to joining future Hackney runs with him.  And if you haven’t heard about RunDemCrew, well that is a whole other post about how running can change lives… I’ve been very lucky to have run with West and the crew’s positivity has given me the opportunity to experience the community that is running.

8. Karen Weir gave a great talk about run technique.  Never again will I read the words “clench” and “lean” in the same light!  Apparently this is THE key to improved running efficiency.  Thank goodness it is exactly the same thing that I have been working on with James in our sessions!

9. I loved that Rebecca Randell of the Gatorade Sports Science Institute shared with me that she is not a fan of zero fat products.  I did not partake of the Chobani at the event – what can I say, I am a full fat kind of girl! 

10. I am definitely going to sign up for future Write This Run events. I got so much out of the day – as a speaker and an audience member – and I truly thank Laura and Liz for turning their running conversation and great idea into an awesome reality, and for inviting me to be a part of it.

One response to “Write This Run: Mission Accomplished!”

  1. It was great to meet you on Sunday and hear your story – so inspiring. Loved reading your perspective on the day too: I’ve been wondering what *could* I do if I refused to accept my limitations ever since too!

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