It’s not THAT bad. It’s all relative, isn’t it?
I seek solace in the fact that every time I think about the somewhat daunting task ahead of me next Sunday 10 June 2018, that there are people all over the world participating in significantly harder events, conquering harder goals and facing significantly tougher personal challenges.
I’m not in the anti-taper camp with those that can’t stand the lesser mileage. I’m delighted that later today I have only a short 1-hour trot rather than the regular 2-3-hour Saturday grind. BUT, what I do struggle with is that I seem to be far more acutely aware of each and every slightly-different-than-normal feeling I have in my body.
Does my calf feel stiff? Am I breathing as freely as I should be? Should I have another rusk – any extra weight will have to be carried 90km? And, and, and, and blooming well and.
I vacillate too between feelings of great confidence. I KNOW I’ve done the requisite miles and that they’re more than 2012 and 2013. I’ve more ultra experience. I’m good for a Bill Rowan.
And feelings of great anxiety. What if my calf cramps 3 hours in like it did a few weeks back? What if I bonk like in 2013? What if my gut goes? What if I don’t make my hard-worked-for Bill Rowan goal? Will life as I know it stop? Will hell freeze over?
No, it won’t numnuts. What has helped considerably to quell the nerves and stead the ship last night and this morning (Saturday), is looking at the incredible achievements of others for motivation.
Last night, when I got back from an OKAY treadmill run at gym, I watched ‘The Man with the Halo’, a brilliant documentary on Iron Man professional Tim Don’s recovery from a broken neck suffered just days before the World Championship in Kona (Hawaii) last October. The doccie follows the fitting of an ancient medieval-looking torture device called the Halo (which would allow him the greatest chance of making as close to a full recovery as possible), his gradual recovery to running the Boston Marathon in a staggering time of @:49:42, just 6 months and 5 days after his accident.
It’s all relative. Training with that is difficult. Training for 6 months as a healthy and able-bodied person is easy by comparison.
Then this morning I watched another doccie called “Where Dreams go to die – Gary Robbins and the Barkley Marathon”. Now this one will really put things into perspective for anyone thinking the 90 kilometres of beautifully tarred roads between Pietermaritzburg and Durban are tough.
The Barkley Marathon is an ultramarathon trail race held in Tennessee USA. The full course is officially 100 miles (160km), but athletes say you end up doing about 130miles (209km), which need to be completed in a 60-hour period. And if the distance isn’t enough, the elevation gain is the equivalent of climbing Mount Everest twice. The race is BRUTAL – all caps – not just a capital B.
Of the more than 1,000 starts in the race history, the race has only been completed within the 60-hour cut-off 18 times, by 15 runners.
So if you’re feeling anxious / sorry for yourself and think you’ll be put through the proverbial ringer next Sunday, just watch what Gary has to go through. I won’t tell you any more. It’s a MUST watch doccie.
And what of the staggering endeavours of athletes closer to home and Comrades Marathon related?
The amazing Hazel Moller set off yesterday with 2 other runners (Cornel Metcalfe and Tumelo Mokobane) on her 5th 10 Ten challenge. If you think one Comrades marathon is enough, consider doing the equivalent of 9 Comrades Marathons in a row and then lining up on the 10th day to complete the Ultimate Human race. You can follow her progress every day on her Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/tencomrades
That’s what Hazel is doing. Yesterday (Friday) she completed her first, and as of now, she is plodding her way through her 2nd ultra. Now THAT is tough. It’s not just a selfish lone quest either. She’s doing it to raise money for a passion of hers, animal welfare. So please have a look at her donate page and donate if you’re inspired and moved to do so.
I had the privilege of interviewing Hazel a week before she started this epic undertaking for my soon to be released Ultrabloke podcast, so keep your eyes peeled and ears to the ground for that.
There is also a more crazy / courageous group of 6 runners, once of whom (Roger Cameron) is a close friend of a close friend, who were attempting to run 20 Comrades marathons in a row, under the banner Long Road to Comrades. I think there plans have been slightly derailed by the enormity of the event, with various runners having not completed all of the planned miles, but it’s day 12 today and they’re still moving towards Pietermaritzburg. Their run is also for a great charity called Children of the Dawn, so PLEASE check out their Given Gain page HERE.
And finally, and maybe most ambitious, are the exploits of my ABSA Cape Epic partner, the mighty Sibusiso Vilane. As if he hasn’t achieved enough in his lifetime, he continues to run, cycle, climb, adventure and inspire. His current goal, of which he’s 2 /3 of the way through (see details HERE) is simply running the Two Ocean Marathon (tick), attempting to summit Mount Everest without supplemental oxygen (he made it to the death zone at 8,000 metres before putting his safety first and only arrived back in South Africa yesterday), and he’ll line up for his 8th Comrades Marathon next Sunday. He’s also raising money for an excellent cause – projects supporting the plight of young women in Africa. You can donate to this excellent cause on the Sport for Social Change network donation page.
So having watched those vids, and tracking Sibs, Hazel and the other crazy crew’s progress towards Pietermaritzburg, I’m feeling significantly lighter of heart and freer of spirit and looking forward to what is a relatively easier challenge come next Sunday.