Who would have thought that by just keeping on, keeping on, the world could be a better place. Earlier today I posted my Day 9 diary of the Brathay 10in10 for 2018. Tonight, after completing the Windermere marathon (after 8 other Windermere marathons) in a satisfying time of 4 hours 22 minutes, I'm feeling happy. Hopefully, not smug. I've laughed and joked, smiled and encouraged my aging ass around this course. It's hard to believe that I'm the same person who suffered so much last year doing the same challenge. It's equally hard to believe after the preparation coming in to the event how my wheels are still on.
So am I a liar or am I telling the truth? My preparation has consisted of Robin Hood Half Marathon in September, Kielder Marathon and Langdale Marathon in October, It's Grim Up North Running - Swinsty Reservoir Marathon in November, Forest of Bowland Trail in December, North Lakes Half in January, Grizedale Trail and Northumberland Coastal in February and finally Millennium Way Ultra in early March. The rest of March I had off, sulking in a cave. In April my training mileage has consisted of occasionally cycling to and from work (a distance of 25 miles each way), and a dozen or so 10 mile runs, and a reasonable amount of resistance band work on my glutes. Other than that, I have followed the advice given by Dr Katie Small, I've 'vaguely' learnt from last year's experience and I've heeded the encouragement from faithful Sam and Áine. Maybe I'm riding my luck, maybe I've prepared better than I think but when the preparation is jotted down, it doesn't seem like a lot, or enough, not to get to the stage of where I am. This event is not easy. The 'ride' around Windermere is undulating, unrelenting and unforgiving. The first few days I kept saying I didn't deserve to be doing so well but I'm not the same. I read something the other day which suggested that you can't beat a person who won't quit. I like that. I like it a lot. And, I like myself for never giving up.
Dr Katie and I exchanged another 'Mum' note this morning, her reply to my 'get out of running' letter was waiting for me on my plinth. Yet another reason why I simply love being here. 'Don't Stop Me Now' was the tune I tried to sing whilst crossing the finish line and it's true I am having such a good time. Day Ten is upon us, it's bitter-sweet, glad to be on the last day but not glad it's finishing. Consider going for the hat-trick? Brathay 10in10 in 2020?
Today, the miles have flicked by like a cartoon flipbook, the reason, Paul Bushby.
We started running together just after Hawkshead on my favourtie part of the whole course and then we've stuck together all the way round. Deviously, I was trying to work him hard so that's he's got nothing left for tomorrow and I can then hopefully run a personal best and make up the mere 45 minute lead he has over me. Two hopes on that, one's Bob, the other's No. I jest of course. The pleasure was simply listening to both our rhythmically slapping feet on the road beneath us, understanding a forced inhale on an incline that we've already covered nine times, a whoosh as we puff down the other side, satisfied with progress made and the miles left before us. Newby Bridge beckoned, we ended up with another scheduled but unexpected magic 'Hornby' train moment. The train approaching, I scrambled for selfie phone to capture the steam chuffed from beneath the bridge by the aging steam locomotive, just like us it has perhaps seen better days but it helped place child-like grins on both our faces, taking us back to a time when we did things effortlessly, without chugging and puffing. That moment kept us talking and occupied our many thoughts for the next 6 miles or more. Magic? Childish? I don't care, the grin on my 'Mr Bean' like face was natural and is there for all to see. I'll enjoy our moment of chuffing luck.
Gobby, cheeky, boisterous, childish, I've been called it all. This week, I'm enjoying life. I've promised children in the street ice-creams, much to their parents' annoyance, my latest escapade was to support a local estate agent selling a house along the A592, so if anyone is looking to buy a property in the Lake District, quick snap this up before it goes. It has my stamp of approval, https://www.rightmove.co.uk/property-for-sale/property-54346212.html and as I shouted to the prospective buyers over my shoulder 'Buy it, you'll never look back.' And then I thought to myself, they should you know, if they can afford it, they should buy it, their children will grow up in a beautiful part of the world, full of adventure and after 25 years they will officially become Northerners. What could be better?
The support this week from previous Ten in Tenners has been immense, Jonathon Carter, Sean Warburton, John McCann, George Sherriffs, Gary and Sandra Wade, Linda Brewis and at the finish today Graham Dewar. There has also been the 2018 physios who've come up to lend their vocal and emotional support, it has been heart-warming to see so many friendly faces. My sister was on hand today too. We even got to sing a little 'Tigger Song' at the top of Ice-Cream mountain. Too many endorphins? Don't care. I'm having a whale of a time. I've quoted Rexy a couple of times today to Paul, you can't experience the highs without feeling the lows. I therefore concur, I deserve this, I'm going to soak up every special moment I can and even if the wheels finally come off tomorrow, I'll get round and complete the challenge of ten measly marathons in ten days. If you think you can do it, see that, the gauntlet's there. Just pick it up and have a go. Stronger people than me have tried and failed, so I dare you.
Today, is perhaps the day that betrays me, so Judas Iscariot, I lay my link of my day 9 marathon to you.
At the start and finish today, it was suggested my attire and unkempt appearance made me look like a convict. I carried the look off with aplomb. Even wearing a number. Except I am not a number I am a free man and tomorrow, niggling IT band and shin splints willing I'll run, from start to finish, I'll run.
Today's marathon is dedicated to others who have helped shape and influence my thoughts and many of my positive actions. I missed Derek out earlier this week, so thank you and especially for the mention on your one appearance on the Ken Bruce show. Many years ago I had an interview and was asked who in the industry (hospitality) inspired me, for the next few minutes I waxed lyrical about Ray Payne. Following the interview, the General Manager then asked if I would like feedback, he provided me with an analysis of me and then very casually remarked that he was the godfather to Ray Payne's children. That man was Neil Beech. Sadly he passed away last year and I didn't say goodbye. I would like to say thank you to Mr Beech and to Ray though. Equally Mrs Purdew, Chairman of Champneys Health Farms, a formidable but admirable woman, who helped shape my thoughts and I'm indebted to her and her son, Stephen. Especially their faith in me in my early career. For the last few years Tom Lewis has demonstrated kindness and professional advice which saw me through a challenging time in my life. I hope I've changed. On that note, one of Mr Beech's most memorable phrases and one which has stood me in good stead was
'You either change people, or you change people.'
Embrace the change people ...