It's been a month since the finish of the Brathay Ten in Ten. My mood has not abated, the sun is still shining a little brighter than ever before, the sky a little bluer, the clouds a little fluffier, the rain more refreshing and life more do-able, regardless of what I keep throwing at myself and what keeps getting thrown at me. So far I've manage to chew through the canapes and first course on my menu for this year and I'm still hungry. It is almost inevitable that Mr Creosote features but so far I've not choked and I'm whetting my appetite, stimulating the taste buds, rubbing my tummy and loosening my jaw for the next course.
Three months ago, when I was hunkered down in my cave, not wanting to face a single March day I now find it almost inconceivable that less than 100 days on I don't recognise that person. Unfortunately, he might visit again and it's difficult to not to open the door or simply slam it shut in his face, he is after all the melodramatic and attention seeking me. I'll take these moments though, they taste delicious, better than ever.
The menu this year was four sizeable bites. Four tasty morsels to feast upon. Four opportunities to savour. Little me with small appetite and already carrying chips (on my shoulders) must have chosen to try to consume four of the trickiest, endurance events in the UK, or not, perhaps I'm not experienced enough to know everything that's out there. But, how daft can one person be? As if attempting to run ten marathons in ten consecutive days was not enough, I then decide to complete ten laps of Windermere in one day on a bike, I'm no runner and an even worse cyclist so what am I really expecting? To follow that with a 100km, and then 50 mile ultra does not now seem to be like I'm right in the head? Who knows what I was thinking last year, or even last week. Even I can't comprehend the dreamy scenarios I create for myself.
Last week I 'enjoyed' running Swaledale marathon. although not technically a marathon since it is shorter than 26.2 miles, it was perhaps one of the hardest single events I've ever completed. Expectations were high following my flourish at the Ten in Ten and I really expected a 3 hour 40 ish completion time. Three things I miscalculated. Firstly, I'm not all that, secondly Swaledale is all that, it is bloody brutal and thirdly since when did I start going for 'times'. The guideline to myself last year was to run and enjoy it. First mistake since corrected I've given myself a stern talking to and corrected the expectations of myself. Second mistake was trying to complete Swaledale in an almost 'elite' time. The course is stunning, it is brutally beautiful. Up hill and down dale as Gervase Phinn might say. It is a course to be relished, the beauty of Yorkshire is there, just there, for all to see on that run, the support is fantastic, the villages beautiful, the heritage of the event admirable and some of the competitors as (Northern as you like) hard as nails. One guy, from Swaledale AC, who I tried to keep up with for a little while did the event in a singlet, meanwhile I cocooned myself in four layers and was still bloody freezing. Factor in over 100 miles of cycling in the 48 hours leading up to the event and after a 12 hour night shift, I really should have adjusted my sights and taken in more of what I love about putting one foot in front of the other. Life should be uncomplicated, time need not govern me, my efforts are to be devoted to moving ever forwards, not looking back and leaving light, gentle and happy footprints along the way. In five days the 262 beckons, the other half of the self proclaimed 524 challenge, Swaledale has helped re-sight my expectations, I'm now looking forward to what will inevitably be a tough, long arduous day but I expect to finish it, I expect to eat lots of cake, I expect to suffer from sore legs, sore back and no doubt sore cheeks but I expect to complete it and then look forward to a little rest before taking on the next challenge. Note to self remember to pack some Rennies (other indigestion remedies are available).
Maybe I am getting ahead of myself but if/when I complete/conquer all the events before me this year, what am I going to set myself up for in my 50th year in 2020? Would love to hear some ideas...