102 not out. I hope.

When I was at school, I hated tests, unless it was a spelling test. The dreaded T word (which luckily, I could spell). Tests are funny things. They either prove to you and others that you know your stuff, and give you a feeling of confidence, or they highlight a gap in knowledge or a weakness, potentially setting you back, depending on your mind set. This weekend, I face an interesting test.

Despite my recent injury diagnosis (with the blessing of my sports therapist, whom I guess will profit from it anyway), I have decided to push on with my intention to run an ultra marathon. It’s not just any ultra marathon though. It’s been two years in the planning, and is probably the furthest distance I will ever run in one hit. At 102 miles (164 kilometres), it’s not a short stroll. With over 12,000 feet of elevation, it’s not easy.

It will be a huge test, mentally and physically. I fully expect my injury to give me grief pretty early on, so I’ll need to deal with that and push through. As mentioned, it’s also my monthly mile tally in one 24 hour blast. 

This race in particular has been on my mind for two years. I can’t recall if I heard about it and just decided to go for it like I do, more often than not, or if I accidentally stumbled upon it. Either way, when I attempted to enter it, it was apparent that I needed to qualify, to prove I could go at least half the distance. Because of this, I began running ultra marathons, and thus discovered a lot about myself. I ran two in the first year, but allowed myself to talk myself out of entering the big one in the final two miles. My reason being, the way I felt then, after 53 miles, would I have the credentials to run another 50 on top of that? The echo chamber of my mind returned a unanimous no. So I had to start again.

One thing I did differently this year was entering the race before I ran my second ultra. That way, it was on my mind throughout the run, and talking myself out of it was not an option.

This week has been last bits of preparation. Marking up maps (the run is self navigated), looking at kit, reducing it down, looking at the route, working out pacing, ETAs at checkpoints – all exciting stuff. It’s also looking like I might have some support along the route, which believe me, on something like this, is a huge boost.  I also decided to run for a mental health charity, so it’s not just myself I’m running for.

I’m trying not to see this as the end of a chapter as I feel in many respects my ultra marathon days are numbered (one smaller one next year potentially), it just means a shift in goals again. It’s been a huge year, and I’ve achieved so much that I’m immensely proud of yet can scarcely believe still.

Thank you for reading my blog. Below are some links that you may be interested to read.

See you on the other side.

https://www.cwmt.org.uk/

https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/philwells-century

 

I just need a sunny day in the mountains

The title of this blog post is from a phrase that sprang to mind on Monday afternoon, whilst dealing with the unnecessary hardships of 21st century office working. It might be a good thing that I can’t remember the exact scenario that herded me into that particular direction, so it clearly hasn’t bothered me too much. The worst thing about situations like that is how they stay in your mind, and negativity sticks to them like mud on a wheel, getting bigger and bigger over time, catching more. So in my experience that day it was kind of a case of stepping away from the situation and just thinking where I’d rather be, and that, it turns out, was a sunny day on some mountain somewhere, not sat in an open plan office listening to buzz phrases like Tissue meeting and and watching the titanic clash of egos.

It’s funny. In my last blog, I wrote about how my life is changing. New goals, new plans, new hopes. I can categorically say that I’m happier now and more positive than I have been for years, which I think everyone would agree is a good thing. But there is a but (two buts there). All this positivity, and being surrounded by so much love and support from friends both near and far still cannot keep negative thoughts at bay. In fact, does it exacerbate them, as when you find yourself in a negative space, you all of a sudden feel guilty because you should be happy now, shouldn’t you? A couple of things have happened this week that have aggravated my insecurities. Yes, I have some, and so do you. We all do, and it’s healthy to admit it. Anyone who says they have none is probably insecure about admitting they have insecurities (in short, liars).

Being in a time of change for me, I’m very conscious of how I’ve dealt with challenges in the past and how they’ve affected my life. I’m not saying I dealt with them in completely the wrong way, but I think it’s now time to take a different path at the junction, trying different approaches instead of my default, go-to reaction to things. We can’t always be on an insanity loop, there’s got to be some personal development in there from every situation.

I find it difficult to fathom out how one day, I’m storming to a personal best time at the Paras 10 test march, then two days later, feeling negative about something that inevitably the cause of is out of my control. That’s part of modern living I guess, and dealing with people in an hectic workplace. It does emphasise my love of the outdoors, spending time with the like minded people whom I click with and understand. Those sunny days in the mountains can’t come soon enough.

Time for change

Readers forgive me, for I have sinned. It’s been two months since my last blog post.

My last posts covered the events of my ultra marathon, as well as my third Fan Dance, an achievement that, to be quite honest, hasn’t sunk in yet. Before I know it I’ll be lining up for the next one. Did I just actually write that??! We’ll see.

Yes it’s been two months, and even before that it was a good six weeks since the previous one. It hasn’t been so much out of laziness, or lack of inspiration. It’s just that life took over. To say this year has been a rollercoaster would be an understatement. Gladly now I can say things are looking more positive and hopefully moving in the right direction.

It’s just as well that it is now that I attempt to get my proverbial faeces together as it is that time of year where I am most sensitive to the changing of the season. It started this week. Monday morning, off the train, walking through the city streets, feeling the subtle drop in temperature in the breeze. Generally it has been a great summer. I have done a lot, achieved a lot as well. With my life changing, I haven’t yet settled into a new routine, so it’s been a summer of different days out. Another reason for this change of routine has been for the fact that I’m officially injured. A niggling pain that started back in April has got worse. I did mention it in my last post. I said then that I thought it was my hamstring. As shocking as it is, I was wrong. Now you’ve picked yourself up off the floor and revived, I can tell you that yesterday evening I visited a sports therapist and got a formal diagnosis, as well as acupuncture, and, well, mauled. The best news is that I can reasonably continue running with it, so thumbs up. I’m not particularly relishing the thought of running 102 miles with it in two weeks though. Still, let’s call it character building shall we?

This autumn will be a time of transition for me as I’m moving to a new town in a few weeks, so my outdoor routine will change too. Probably for the better I hope, being closer to an area of outstanding natural beauty. I can picture ideal winter walks, pub lunches, and everything in between. Reality might dictate rain, stepping in dog muck and soggy sandwiches.

In the meantime however, it’s prep time for a busy weekend this weekend. I have another Paras 10, where I’m hoping to go under the cut off time again, to complete three for the year (two Paras 10 and the Fan Dance). Retirement now perhaps? Then on Sunday, just what my body needs, a 10km road race. It’ll be a case of suck it and see as to what pace I go at, depending on the legs following Saturday. I’m not sure what state I’ll be in come Monday morning, but that’s what makes life interesting – the test.