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Eating Elephants...

Updated: Aug 24, 2018

If you want to eat an elephant, don’t start with the tusks’, or something like that.  Everyone is full of advice.  In my head, though, I’m not eating a bloody elephant, I’m running a marathon, well ten actually, and one after the other.  I’ve done marathons before (here comes the Snickers/Marathon joke, but I’ve never eaten ten in one go) but that was when I was younger, fitter and a little more relaxed about trying to achieve things by working hard for them.  Now I guess it is time to be sensible, to do the right thing and start listening to what is right and wrong, listen to what my body is telling me and learn to shut out the negative trumpets and begin to blow my own.

 I will do things my own way, I guess I always have, just this time it is going to be different.  Why?  Why you ask? Well there’s a simple explanation.  That is if you are interested?  I PROMISED myself on 18th January 2016 that I would not drink again, I would not lie again, to deceive, destroy or wound anyone again (strong words eh?).  Easier said than done but 18 months later, life is a little more matter of fact.

 So if you’re interested I’ll let you in on my journey now and perhaps you’ll get to know a little of my past .  Apparently, you will be more engaged if I give a little.  Up to you, I’ve already been accused of being a narcissist, all I know now is that I have pledged to raise £5000 for Brathay Trust to help young people across the UK.  The reason I wanted to do this is selfish, I wanted to achieve something to be proud of, to prove to myself that I was worth something and equally to prove to myself and everyone around me that change, real change is actually possible.  Selfish, is technically correct but in the process I hoped and wanted to give something back, to raise money for a truly worthwhile cause.

7th July and I receive THE CALL from Aly Knowles at Brathay, you’re in if you want the place.  My heart is racing and I’m shaking like a teenager.  Apparently my face is a picture (I would not call it that) but apparently I was beaming like a toothpaste model.  Right then, its real, I’m in.  I’ve declared that I can do this, I’m going to do it.  I wonder how many are doubting me, they remember the ‘older’ me, the ghost in the past, the rattler of malignant chains and drowning doubts.  Well, lets get on with it.  Lets take it steady I tell myself, after all I’ve got St Bees Ultra just around the corner, followed a month later by Ikano Bank Robin Hood (Nottingham) Marathon, of course I’m fit enough, of course I’ve been training.  I have.  Honestly, I have.  Okay then a few runs here and there and a ride out on the bike once or twice, hardly fit now.

Great, I tell myself, I’ve got the children for a two week holiday (my three fantastic, wonderful children, Théo, Loïc & Amélie– who as part of my Promise, I’ve vowed never to let down again) in two weeks but how on earth will I begin to train.  This problem swiftly solved.  Day two of the holiday (24th July) and Théo (aged nine) and I are playing football at the local park.  He thinks he’s bloody Jimmy Case and decides that his art of tackling needs honing, my shin already thinks its sharp enough.  Little bugger went right through me.  Well impressed I tell him, I really hope he continues to be fearless…  Five minutes later I’ve still not learnt my lesson and he does the same again, only this time I’m like semi-final Nottingham Forest vs Spurs-Paul Gascoigne, my knee popped, I swear popped, I heard it and definitely felt it.  Game over, ten days later I’m still barely walking properly.  So much for St Bees Ultra – deferral, please.  Thanks Jon (organiser of SBU35).


13th August so now, time is of the essence and I start walking and cycling , in an effort to get my motivation back and get some much needed miles into my legs.  Short run around the village and I feel great, this is going to be one of many and I’ve found a quiet little route that I can enjoy (a little flat but it will wake me up in a morning).  Kids are away with their Mum in France so I can get some miles in and at least perhaps get ready to do Nottingham (yes, I know its only six weeks away).  A drive over the Pennines to work and ouch, that feels funny.  Restaurant service, ouch that still feels funny.  I know a good night’s sleep will sort me out but nope, ouch that feels very funny.  And so on the 16th August my back is not funny any more nor do I consider it mildly amusing but keep moving and see where that gets me?  Lets sleep on the floor, that’s a great idea.  Or not sleep on the floor as the case may be and take fifteen minutes to get to the toilet when I can barely move.  I know it’s not the same but people who have to endure chronic injuries or pain I really do feel for.  Now, I’m worried, I’m the Duty Manager, if anything happens at work, that’s any emergency response from me severely delayed.  And so, instead of trying to be a martyr, I ask for help.  I have great colleagues and an early morning phone call receives swift response, registration at the local doctor, fetching pain killers and then taxi-ing me to the local GP, all makes me feel very, very lucky indeed.  The doctor is the most singular, kindest, considerate, giving and wonderful GP I have ever met, Dr Colclough couldn’t be kinder.  Assessment of my condition is followed by plenty of advice, handouts readily available and the most genuine ‘open door offer’ a doctor has ever provided me with.  From Thursday 17th August until Monday 21st August the days are blurred into one Tramadol day after another.  Keep moving, listen to your body, don’t try to do too much. A week later I’m still suffering but moving a damn more freely that a week earlier.  A week after this and I’m on the bike.  Great stuff I think, I’ve a rare Saturday afternoon off, lets get out on the bike and stretch out a little.  Twenty miles around Richmond (North Yorkshire) will be gentle enough, and yes it is.  You guessed it, or rather it would of, if I didn’t grind my gears, shear my mechanism and end up walking two miles into Richmond to get a taxi back home.

Is the world out there trying to tell me something?  I wonder?


4th September the children start school, I can get myself organised, get some routine and commit to progressing and doing the miles and miles of training that is essential.  Nursery commences a week later so plan organised, 18th September I can turn my Mondays into ‘Rundays’, the essential long run that I know I will need to do.  Only, I can’t be bloody sensible about it can I, instead of a few miles in the tank first, I go for it and run ten miles +, only this time I’ve strained my flaming calf.  Best contact Nottingham and get that deferral sorted.  Fingers crossed I’ll know in November.  Still not listening to my body am I?

So now here we are 9th October, I’ve started swimming, stretching and will be going to the gym.  I have to do this.  I need to do this. My calf is feeling fine, my back is okay, my knee is (a little weird, I still can’t kick properly with my left) okay, but let’s see what happens next…

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