Hate it! Left to my own devices I eat Pot Noodles, fish fingers or bacon butties, chocolate (lots of it and especially Snickers or marathons), occasionally cornflakes or granola and yoghurt. Fortunately, the days vegetables are consumed are when me and the children are together. Proper home cooking ensues, my children and I made brioche bread and butter pudding with loads of dried fruit just the other day. We've made home-made steamed marmalade pudding. Okay, so this is not a vegetable based diet but at least there is fruit in it. Other meals include 'SpagBog', Sunday Roast, vegetable stir fry, home-made pizza and broccoli, pepper and carrot chow mein (no, really). Why on earth am I reciting the culinary machinations of a 40-something and three little ones? Well, we (the Brathay 'athletes') are all sitting together in Shackleton Lodge at Day, T-1 of the Brathay Ten in Ten and discussing ailments, injuries, mental preparedness and the training, or not for this brutally beautiful and rewarding endurance event. The brightest thing anyone has so far said, is that if the worse comes to the worse we can spend ten days eating in the lodge after all we've paid money to enter the event and there is lots of good wholesome food in store.
Back in good company, yet I feel there's a little shadow hanging over me. I've had a few conversations about the reasons why I've chosen to do it again. The organisation of 'life' and getting my priorities right has bothered me and others greatly. These are just words I remind myself. Perhaps I've been selfish, perhaps I've not made the right decision, perhaps I got so caught up in the accomplishment of finishing the event last year that I got carried away with my commitment to re-enter, but simply put, I really wanted to do better, to do myself proud. That's it, a totally selfish reason, I wanted to, this year was for me. Last year was about slaying demons, which I thought I had. This year was about doing better. My son and I discussed it. Okay, having a grown up chat with a (then) ten year old was perhaps not the most considered, but we chat, I think we have good conversations. I hope in years to come he does too.
I watched Rocky Balbao recently and now sitting here looking at the picture of a storm at sea, I recollect a scene in the movie, when Rocky is trying to tell Paulie that he still has an itch, a desire to prove something to himself. Last year was a fluke, wasn't it? The only reason I completed last year was the support I received (thanks for downloading the Wix App, Aimee), my sister, my ex-colleagues, all who sponsored me, my fantastic friends who drove miles to see me at the finish line, my Mum and of course all of the incredible support within the Brathay Bubble. So this year, sorry but I still have something to prove. No, Philadelphian steps to run up, no 'Adrienne' to scream, no bloody eyes and equally no physique to speak of (unless of course you count an inner tube from a child's Grifter around my middle). What on earth do I expect the Ten in Ten do for me then this year? Time for a smidge more self-imposed and brutal Brathay inspired honesty; I realise and understand, I do, I really do, doing this will not help to repair my self-esteem, equally the Ten in Ten (as much as I mistakenly believed it would) will not change my life and it will do nothing to help repair the faults and relationships in my life. But, I am not perfect. I am human and I need to be loved (nod to The Smiths there), just like everyone else does. So yes single minded, I am doing this for me, in spite of me and for me. The punishment that I endure will I hope inspire donations, I hope, most sincerely. That said this is going to be an incredible experience, it will be a rollercoaster. Last year reminiscent of the Big One at Blackpool Pleasure Beach, this year I'm queue-ing for a ride on The Grand National at the same visitor attraction (is it still there)?
This morning was a little bit frenetic and frantic. Finishing work at 7am (after a 12-hour night shift) I dashed home to get my washing dry, prepare the last bits of my kit bag, hustle over to the Stockton-on-Tees where Lucy at Beau Visage was kind enough to provide me with a full leg wax, (thank you so much Leanne, who arranged it), back to Darlo' to collect my newly labelled shirts, shorts and tops, back home via a greasy spoon breakfast, then on to the local village shop to display my poster for a charity event we've organised in the local village (more on that later), then over to Kendal to have a coffee with a kind friend, when I realised that after all the sugar and caffeine I had consumed in the last 6 hours I was talking at a hundred miles an hour, not taking breath and not using any commas in my sentences and just rambling on and on, before heading over to Brathay Hall driving up to Shackleton Lodge, writing my blog, filling my bottles up for the beginning of tomorrow's event and now, ahhhhh, breathe.
Just a word of explanation, I've incorporated a logo onto my kit this year to signify three things. Almost thirty years ago, I made a phone call to 392519. A voice answered, a strong voice, a no-nonsense voice. 'Can I speak with your daughter please?' I asked. 'Who is it?' came the reply. And so my young teenage voice replies full of boyish, bogus bravado with 'It's me, it's Duncan' a little stammer, 'Duncan anyway'. And so the name stuck, Len named me 'Duncan Anyway'. Sometimes, I hark back to fond memories to those rose tinted times, but I am using the name 'Anyway'. As an affectionate nod to the past, as an indication that I am going to do this event anyway and lastly that I will finish it anyway I can. I've incorporated the number 3 within my logo too; three children of which to be proud, three family rules and as anyone who knows me, will know my favourite number is 9 and 3 times 3 is exactly that. In my weird world it makes sense. So here we are 9th May 2019 and on the 10th we begin the Ten in Ten. My only wish is that I had repaired the cracks I helped to cause before I left home. Now surely here on the edge of Windermere it is a return to a singleton's life? No, not here at Brathay. For the next ten days I am now surrounded by the newly congregated Bubble family.
See you all at the finish line on Sunday, 19th.