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19th February 2015

Last week’s title “Racing Hearts Go” marked the advent of St Valentine’s Day: source of joy for some, misery for others and quite possibly more than a touch of cynicism somewhere in between. But it’s not just love that gets the heart racing – it can be many things.

I haven’t always been a lover but the last couple of years have changed that for me. It all started with a daft challenge a few years ago when I decided to try all the Olympic disciplines despite neither having any a. interest in nor b. talent for sport.

What started as really quite a flippant suggestion by a friend became an operation of epic proportions leading to not only the formation of a loving and committed relationship with sport, but also a more fundamental change of heart and the opening up of a whole new world. I don’t think it would be overly dramatic to say I rediscovered my lost youth somewhere on a trampoline in Kentish Town and, allowing myself to dream in ways I had not for many years, I packed in my sensible career to pursue my childhood ambition of writing. So far, the most tangible lesson I’ve learnt from this, apart from that the only way my previous career got my heart racing was with rage, is why children are not usually wealthy, in their own right. 

The different causes of a racing heart are demonstrated well by my first featured piece, no. 545, evoking tremendously the spike in adrenaline and the sound of our blood pumping, caused by abject terror.


“He could hear its heavy breathing closing in on him, feel each thunderous step it made pounding on the ground”.


The wonderful twist in this story’s tale reveals the root of this racing heart somewhere most unexpected, long before we spent our days dreaming of reduced, petal-less flowers from Tesco’s bargain bin.

My second featured piece is no. 535, for the bleak humour found in the wonderfully believable characterisation of David.


“David tried to imagine the joy of being a gull, swooping and diving and gulling about, but he couldn’t break through the grey mist that had settled in his head”.


Family man and bored office worker, David epitomises the internal conflict of a man’s descent into the mundanity of adult life, who’s desires of the flesh lead his heart to race for entirely different reasons.

Though this story doesn’t necessarily capture my own teenage self’s feelings about sport, I’m certainly all for a bit of angst and my winner this week, no. 558, is dreamily reminiscent of one of the best and worst kinds of racing hearts – being a teenager in love.


“I am in love with a boy who is more elusive than alchemy” – we’ve all been there, right?


For me this is beautifully written and wonderfully relatable - even the sports appreciation, in my brave new world.


Jen Offord is a writer from North London. Not content with having tried all the Olympic disciplines, she’s now planning to cycle across North America on her bike, Beyoncé, in search of amazing stories from other inspirational women. She’s not very good at map reading and nor is she relishing the prospect of having to punch an alligator in the face (you’ve got to fight hard if they catch you) – you can follow her adventures on her most excellent blog.

My Notes