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E is for ...

Tardiness is one of my endearing qualities. Except for today when I was fully prepared and ready with the rest of the team. And, that's where that illusion ends. Half way down the drive I realise I've forgotten my dibber (our timing chip specific to each of us), trot back up the drive where some employees at Brathay offered me congratulations on getting so near to the finish and some sage advice. I was actually elevated by how chipper and kind they were but then they got me to thinking. Maybe today should have been an 'i' day? One of them said 'well done, brilliant effort but isn't doing the same thing repeatedly, yet expecting a different result the very definition of insanity?' Thanks for that! Yet, he was right, I've been expecting to run half decent times (for me, but with too little prep), that's simply bonkers. Then I also realised who the quote was attributed to, Albert Einstein, so 'e' sort of fits.

Down at the start was Rich Rex, Gary and Sandra Wade. It is so good to see familiar happy faces around the course. The start was were it seemed to go wrong today though. Usually, I prefer to go off last but both Pat and Gary were fiddling with things. That's what she said. So I had to go off 12th, that's always been a horrible number for me, 12. First reserve on a team, the super sub, the extra man. I'd rather be a first teamer. Really should train more to achieve that end.

Despite, the back, hip and hamstring my body was explaining that if sensible I could run today, so off I set. Some folk seem to look at their watch and track their pace but looking at a clock face, or recognising a beep, personally just irritates the 'eck out of me. I try to 'listen' to what my body is telling me; you know when you are having an off day and, equally you know when a good day happens and you can welcome them just the same. It really did seem that today was meant to be enjoyed. Unfortunately, maybe I wasn't listening closely enough? At about mile 14 or 15 (just after I'd seen Sean Warburton, previous 10in10 but now an elite marathon runner), the wheels started to come off, again. What now? Not my hip, no. Not my back, no. Not my hamstring, no. It had to be something else didn't it! This time just above my knee, my lower quad started to feel like someone was putting a hot needle through it, followed by a dull ache, piercing, then dull ache, piercing then dull ache. And, so it continued. At about mile 2 earlier in the day I had passed Malc 'the legend' Collins. He's always been kind to me and the only time I've ever completed the course quicker than him was when he was injured in 2019. To pass him early on was not great. I needn't have worried at mile 15, his 'groin injury' seemed to have eased remarkably quickly as he sauntered past me with his regular, elegant, springy Bambi strides. Git! I tried to keep up with him without pushing too hard, in the hope that my own new, personal, uninvited 'demon of the leg' would clear off. Then, sensible head decided to talk to idiot head and explain that there are two more marathons to go. Idiot head, usually so stubborn and competitive, unbelievably listened, so sensible head got their own way and the next 10 miles of the marathon were spent walking and wincing. Just at Bowness, Gary and James Thomas sailed by me like yachts in the harbour passing a stranded buoy. Pride smarted a little, especially after I had been moving so well, but sensible head regained control of the ship and we carried on regardless. The pain was becoming heightened but with 6 miles left to go, the job just needed finishing. At the top of ice-cream mountain, there is a small descent past the Lakes School, the grimace on my face was there for all to see, in fact a very kind lady came up to me to check if I was okay. She explained she knew what I was doing and just wanted to check I was okay. Sometimes, that's all that's needed to give you that extra bit of a push to keep moving. Unfortunately, soon after Michelle stopped by in one of the support cars to explain that Greg had unfortunately had to retire. Never, ever welcome news. But, Greg seems to be made of sterner moral fibre than I and has been quoted as saying that completing ten laps around a lake won't define him. Now that's amazing! It's the only thing I've been able to say has helped to define me these last few years through all my changes.

Another, 10in10 runner glided by, the exceptionally determined, committed and reverend Michelle. She was moving very well for saying she's been struggling with her own version of a hobbit foot prosthetic. The last person to also swiftly leave me for dust was the ever dependable Pat who apparently was having a theatrical performance of egesta (personally I'd never heard of the opera), or maybe it was something like that.

Just before kick off, Dr Katie and I had discussed the plan for today. Day 8, is an awkward one, you're almost within touching distance of the finish, but you also need to be calculated, particularly if you are carrying an injury. The emotions you can go through on a one-off marathon can be quite far reaching, especially if you are going for a time or a performance you've specifically trained for. Ten in a row does try to exploit, explore and examine all you think you know about yourself. It is definitely achievable but you can go through the wringer a little. Another reason, why I try to run/move with a natural enthusiasm rather than against or with a clock that usually determines everything about our every waking hour.

When, you're 'forced' to walk, or shuffle, or plod, through injury, or to protect your body from injuring yourself further, it inevitably leads to more time on the course. More time alone, more time thinking, more time for evaluation. If you don't get control of your thoughts, it can make it somewhat awkward to gain control of your emotions too. If anything I've learned this week it is that to maintain any sort of balance, you have to take pleasure in the little things, take time to smell the roses. As I was passing Low Wood Bay, two ladies were looking out over the bay from what was probably a jacuzzi. I looked at them, they looked at me. As if we were reading one another's thoughts, smiles and sniggers spread across our faces. It was important, that moment, it got me through the next 2 miles and back to the finish with a smile on my face, rather than someone who was grumpy with the injury card. I'm now on the brink of a 3rd 10in10. Yes, it's something I've done before but no less challenging.

Malc is so experienced (some might say old, but I'll not be that unkind, after all we're still in the same age category now, even though I probably should be in the U21s). I've read his profile several times now, he openly details how he won't give up even when the body is really hurting. When you combine that attitude, with his knowledge of the course, his ability and his nous, it makes it difficult to get close to his quality. There's only been a couple of this year's team that I've simply been unable to match, through their consistency and quality, as a result it's been unfortunate that I've not experienced their running company; Avril O'Donnell, Claire Harrison and Paul Mayson. There's still 2 days to go, maybe I've still got one half decent run still in the box?

Pre-run physio involved Georgia being informed that there were no small gloves left and that she had to wear the enlarged, medium-size. Face dropped, the facade of happy-go-lucky, chirpy Cockney chappy (even though she's from Blackpool), was betrayed with dagger looks and RBF. I'd never seen it before but had been warned about it. I whipped my phone out to get a quick shot of the 'don't cross the lady' look. Unfortunately, every time I tried to explain there were no small gloves, a broad smile spread across her face, it took four takes to get even close to the explicit look of displeasure.

Eight, could have been a magic number? Mr Banker, tomorrow I'll be opening box no 9 for further enlightenment and a chance to emulate those individuals who I have admired for so long.

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