Some of you who read my blog regularly will know that last year I took on quite a big challenge. I cycled the Coast 2 Coast route in one day in memory of my partner Bob, who took his life in February 2014. The Coast 2 Coast challenge was Bob’s idea. He was going to do it himself but never got the chance. I had been ready to support him in his challenge but had told him I had no desire to take it on myself as I didn’t think I could achieve it.
It is amazing what you can achieve when you set your mind to it. 130 miles and 11,000ft of climbing in one day was a tough call but, with the massive support of friends, family and fellow riders, we did it.
I was about to say that there have been no big challenges for me this year but this would not be true. Perhaps the challenge of dealing with my grief has been greater because, without training to focus on, I have had to allow ‘normal life’ to resume. I have certainly challenged myself by leaving a secure job for the unknown. This is still a daily challenge but my quality of life has improved immensely now that I am not doing the 9-5 every day of the week.
Physically my greatest challenge was getting to the top of Mount Kailash in Tibet at 5666m. This is the highest altitude I have ever been to and was such hard work. However, again, this was Bob’s challenge. He should have been on that trip and done that climb.
Physically I have felt that I have been ticking over this year. I took on a half marathon at the beginning of March and have completed a 10k or two. I have been out on the bike as little as I can get away with (luckily my new partner is a cyclist and gently persuades me to get out and pedal with him often enough to not lose my bike fitness entirely) and did make it up Holme Moss not long ago. But I don’t feel like I have loved it this year and I certainly haven’t pushed myself.
I follow and am followed by some awesome people on Twitter who eat physical challenges for breakfast! I love seeing the wide variety of feats they take on – from those training for their first 10k to those cycling crazy endurance distances, yes you Jason Smith (@ChallengerWSM)! I am so proud of my best friend, who used to stubbornly tell me “I can’t run.” whenever I suggested a jog together. She has now run far more 10k’s than I have this year and is loving it. My Dad, who has been nicknamed ‘The Terminator’ by my partner, for his tenacity at both running and cycling And my sister, well my sister now cycles audax’s – just the 422km in a little over 24 hours then! Seeing these constant achievements meant that something inside me was definitely starting to stir!
So, when I saw that my sister-in-law, Em, had signed up for her first ultra-run a little spark ignited in me. True, I have been suffering with a hamstring injury for a couple of months, which makes running uncomfortable to say the least. And I swore earlier in the year that I would never even enter another half marathon. But this is different. This is a big challenge. 55kms (34miles) of trail running, in the Lake District, with around 6000ft of ascent.
I just couldn’t help myself. It was clearly exactly what I had been waiting for. Something which I am not sure if I can achieve. Something that scares me. Something which will feel awesome if I can complete it. I got great encouragement from Em (excited to have found someone as crazy as her) and my partner (he has greater belief in my ability than I do) and that was it, I signed.
Oh it felt so good when I put that entry in! I was on such a high for the rest of the day. Then I had one of those cartoon moments where you go to bed and the next morning your eyes pop open, cold reality hits in and you realise it was not a dream. Don’t get me wrong I am still super excited, but now I’m nervous too. I can’t wait to get my body fit and start to love sport again. I just hope that my body allows me to put it through this. Niggling little injuries could become show stoppers. It’s time to get to the physio and get straightened out!
This is my challenge. I certainly won’t say that it isn’t influenced by Bob, he is the person who found the sporty person hiding in me. But this time I can only train for myself and achieve for myself. This time I will have my partner by my side as I train (I have suggested he cycles alongside me with a microphone!) and I am so happy about that.
This coming Sunday I am taking part in the Stilton Stumble, a 10k race in Cropwell Bishop (you get a free chunk of Stilton at the end!) and after that it is time to gently ramp it up. I have until July 2nd next year to get myself physically and mentally ready for my first ultra so I think it is time to resurrect last years catchphrase..
Be More Relentless!
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