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Should I, Shouldn't I?

Three days to go. Three sleeps. 72 hours. Over a year to wait. Over a year to train. Except for the fact that I sort of didn’t, haven’t, tried to, sort of. I can try and blame Covid, the lockdowns, the lack of competition, my headspace, the difficulties of the last year trying to work multiple jobs, home-schooling, preparing for my driving instructor tests, or more recently trying to set up as an independent business. The simple fact is that I’ve not done enough. Could I have done more? Possibly but I am pleased that I have come through these last 18 months a bit wiser, a bit money poorer, yet so much more family richer.

By the way, a bit left field but I made a lemon meringue pie this weekend from scratch, if I do say so myself, it was delicious, I wonder if I could replicate the effort?

The organisers sent a really encouraging email, explaining that even if you had actually thought you’d done enough training, you’d still try to convince yourself that you hadn’t. So, why not come along, enjoy the majesty of nature, and put one foot in front of the other (just like we’ve all metaphorically been doing these last year or so). After all, how prepared does an amateur need to be to run a 100 mile race through Cumbria? So, why not? What’s the worst that can happen?

That’s my intention this coming Friday, 23rd July to rock up at the start line of the Montane Lakeland 100 and repeatedly attempt to place firmly one foot in front of the other. I know there is a little demon bellowing at me and taunting me with the unrealistic desire to finish in under 24 hours, and another whispered caring voice who says just enjoy it, just get round. I know I will think about my children. I know I will think about my past. I know I will worry about my business going bust before it’s even started. I will worry about what I’m going to do if that happens. But what I really hope and want is that I just simply lose myself. Running through Cumbria with a map, getting lost is entirely possible!

The punishment of 100 miles (the furthest I have ever gone is 62 in 2019) is going to be that usual triune of physical, mental and emotional desire. It seems that no matter how I try, I will never quite be organised or determined enough to do as well as I dream or intend. Still, there is hope that I have become a little smarter over the last year or two? Debateable. A week after the 10 in 10 earlier this year I was due to try to complete the Grand Union Canal 145-mile challenge, I withdrew, quite sensible of me. A few weeks ago, I completed the Ascend Five Passes Ultra which was okay, but the following day I had entered the Grizedale Marathon, I withdrew as I just felt that I would rather spend the day with my children than try to prove to myself or anyone else who cared that I might just be capable of completing the event this weekend. In the grand scheme of things who gives a fudge? The weekend was better spent walking on the beach with my sister and three children, eating ice-cream and just chatting. There was something more rewarding than completing a marathon, something more beneficial to the soul, have I overlooked this previously or am I finally getting the balance right? Talking of balance, this weekend will be the first time I’ve ever tried to run with poles.

In a very weird way, I’m not overawed by the challenge, I’m no doubt going to be bothered if I end up with a DNF (did not finish) but I hope and I actually believe that I’ll still learn something from the experience. Running these events these last few years have taught me more about myself than I ever thought they would. Attempting a marathon now, I don’t feel like I go through enough pain, it’s too much within my comfort zone, so hopefully this weekend will push those boundaries a tad more, give me more to think about, more to hurt and heal with, another chance to change. Maybe, I can continue to raise awareness and funds for all that Brathay do for young people and the change they inspire?

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