Home for Christmas

December 24, 2013

California-based Emma-Kate Lidbury reflects on coming back to Blighty and festive training

The tough guys among you might scoff at this, but one of my favourite films is Love Actually. The opening scenes in the arrivals terminal at London’s Heathrow Airport never fail to bring tears to my eyes. In a few days’ time I’ll be flying from LAX to Heathrow in time to spend Christmas with my family and I anticipate similar scenes.

It has been a brilliant year living in the US – and I’ll be returning to LA in early January – but Christmas is definitely a family time, which I love and cherish. Without a doubt, being away from my family is the toughest part of living the dream on the West Coast. The Lidbury clan are a close-knit bunch and I spend several hours a week keeping in touch with them via Skype, FaceTime, email and iMessage.

Apart from a flying visit back to the UK in July, I’ve been away since January, so I’m looking forward to catching up with family and friends in real time.

Of course, I’d be lying if I didn’t let on that I’m a little apprehensive about training in the not-so-Great British winter. Having been spoilt by the SoCal sunshine all year, I’m now a complete softie when it comes to cooler temperatures. I had relatives from the UK come to stay in October, just as the evenings were starting to get cooler in LA. At dinner on their first night, my aunt, uncle and cousin were in shorts and T-shirts waxing lyrically about the balmy evening air while I sat there – in boots, jeans and jacket – feeling the chill in my bones. Something tells me I might be on the turbo trainer a lot this Christmas!

Last Christmas I was staying with my youngest sister, Susie and her husband Gavin. I’d set up my turbo in their kitchen and, with it being Christmas, there was never a shortage of edible goodies within arm’s reach. Perhaps my favourite session was the one that involved Susie passing me a small slice of her mother-in-law’s super-boozy Christmas cake after each 15-minute interval. Now that’s fuelling with a difference!

In case you hadn’t worked it out yet, me and my family are complete suckers for Christmas. We still cling to all the traditions we’ve had since childhood – mince pies, Christmas carols, presents under the tree and stockings on the end of your bed – despite my sisters and I all being 30 and over.

This year, the Lidbury family Christmas looks similar to previous years: my two sisters and I will start the day with a morning run and will likely be joined for the first mile or so by my five-year-old nephew Alex. If we’re feeling sprightly, we may finish it with a few 20-second uphill sprints.

These are usually staged up the hill we used to walk up to get to primary school, but I’ll have my work cut out beating my sisters as they both play netball in a competitive league and have some well-tuned fast-twitch muscle fibres! After that, it’s home to our mum’s for breakfast and the first round of present opening before heading over to our aunt’s for Christmas lunch.

Other than a dog walk later in the afternoon (we have four dogs) there’ll be no more workouts for me on Christmas Day. But I suspect my coach Matt Dixon will have something lined up for me on Boxing Day. So long as there’s Christmas cake somewhere near the turbo, I think I’ll cope.
Merry Christmas all – have a fun and festive time with family and friends. Here’s to a happy, healthy, fun and fast 2014. See you in the New Year!

Originally published at

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