Slightly strong title for a blog you might say, but is an interesting question and something been thinking about recently, but can get back to that later.
So last weekend, we headed off to the bright lights of Dover to take part in our first marathon along the coast! It actually wasn’t a marathon it was 28.3 miles, so diving it at the deep end so to speak, but we thought why not! So we left on Friday evening and made our way down to Dover with our awesome support crew in tow (Lind’s/Nic Thank you!). After a rather interesting Italian meal we managed to find our hotel for the night.
The next morning we woke up, both rather terrified but looking forward to the challenge ahead. Much like the coastal run we did in Devon last year, it was blooming freezing. Not a great start to the day when you have to scrap ice off the windows to the car!
But we got to start line, registered, stood around waiting for our briefing and eventually set off. One benefit though, was that it was a beautiful morning and being on the coast meant you got an awesome sunrise coming up. There was a minor delay to proceedings, but finally we had our briefing and were ready and raring to go! 5..4..3..2..1..GO!!!!
Off we trotted with the rest of the mad people who had decided to get out of bed on a Saturday morning, for a cold plod around Dover. It was great to be finally be going. Our main aim was just to get round, so we didn’t set off at a blistering pace, but one we knew we could hold (“it’s a marathon not a sprint…”). It was about 3 miles in that my knee (which had twinged the week before) started to wake up and decided to start to cause a bit of pain. Being a slightly stubborn human I decided was probably best to put it to the back of my mind and crack on in the hope of pushing through it. We were both going strong having ascended the white cliffs and reaching our first check point, about 7 miles in. We were told the next stretch was a bit easier, as didn’t have to contend with running on the beach and up the cliffs, which was great news. Unfortunately a couple miles further on, going down a hill my knee said screw this! Having been looking forward/preparing for this event for some time, this was somewhat frustrating, so I was fairly determined not to stop. For the next 7 miles or so I managed to trudge my way round swearing at various bushes and gates, doing my best Monty Python Black Knight impersonation (“tis but a scratch”) until someone more sensible than I (thank you again Lind’s) said I should stop being such a “stubborn ****” otherwise will do more damage than good.
So I dragged myself back to the start line a rather depressed and angry human being. It was at this point I started to think about a few what if scenarios and ultimately “what happens if cannot compete in the MdS?.....What happens if we fail?"
Looking back at the Race Across Europe we were immensely lucky how that went. It is almost terrifying to think how much of it was out of our control, with the sheer scale of moving parts involved, if one thing hadn’t worked, simply put, we would not have been able to do it. I think the fact we didn’t even get one flat tyre over the entire 3,000 miles highlights our luck.
I suppose what I am trying to say is, that failing to complete any one of these challenges is a very real possibility. There are so many things that could go against us, bikes/kit not working, our support vehicles breaking down, injury, not being able to raise the money and something as simple as the weather. Weather might seem like an odd one, but can have a massive impact in particular for the Talikser Whiskey Atlantic Challenge. I’m not sure how many of you have been keeping track of this year’s race (If interested, click here), but all the crews had to recently stop rowing for 3 days, just because weather was so bad! Imagine how much you do over a three day period, and imagine, instead of doing that, you are stuck with someone else (in a space designed for one), in conditions that could only be described as hot/sweaty tumble dryer. Not much fun!
I am extremely confident in both of our abilities to get through the psychical pain of these challenges (this is where stubborn side comes in good for once) and completing the Race Across Europe, really helped our confidence. But there is a massive other side of getting through these challenges. It is not only luck, but also having the mental strength to get through it all; all the boring admin involved in applying for these events, writing hundreds of letters/emails to potential sponsors just in the hope that one might come back with positive news, training in the cold/dark or forgoing plans at weekend so you can get up early the next day to train, getting all the very specific bits of kit together to complete in the events and that is all before we have even got to the start line for any of these events. If the Race Across Europe is anything to go by, these events are bloody horrible and require a huge amount of perseverance to continue to and get to the end. But we are hugely determined to really nail these events so we can raise a serious amount of money for our awesome charities.
Failure is a very real option, but we just need to make sure we do all the basics right and control all the elements that we can and if something out of our control happens, just need to remain calm and deal with it.
I should add that Seamus did an awesome job and managed to dig really deep to get round the course, which was a top effort and great to watch him cross the finish line. Never has a man deserved to pass out so quickly in the car on the way home!
On a lighter note we got an awesome bit of publicity from the Evening Standard, thanks to the lovely Annie Ross (check out her website: www.exerk.com). Things like this, really help get our name out there and hopefully someone who might be able to help us will see it!!!
And that is it for this time, but just want to finish by saying a big thank you to everyone who continues to follow/support us. We are both hugely determined to make these challenges a real success and repay the support you guys have given us. As always, if there is anyone you know who might be able to help us, please do let us know!!
P.S. Having now been to a pyshio, it looks like it is just a case of Iliotibial band syndrome (ITBS), which is fairly common in runners. So just need to be “off games” for a couple weeks and make sure stretch and strengthen up the knee, so when next get out, is good to go!