In just over two weeks time I will be toeing the start line of the biggest most exciting adventure of my life so far. The biggest because it will cover over 42 miles a day for 64 days. I will travel through Denmark, Germany, France, Spain before a final short stage on Gibraltar. I am not only excited by the massive physical and mental challenges that I will face, but also by seeing these countries in what has to be the best of ways!
When I first read about the 2003 TE race I was completely blown away with the concept. I could (almost) understand there being people who would and could do such a thing, but to actually have a race was just incredible. The more I got into running, and the more my confidence grew, the more my interest grew. I then was entered into the JOGLE in 2010. I had heard about the TE 2012 before the JOGLE and had decided that if I had a good run at the JOGLE, then I would enter the TE. I finished and won the JOGLE so I was very disappointed when I got home and discovered that the TE was full. I went straight on the lengthy waiting list. There was over two years!
Around July last year after obsessively watching my name slowly rise through the ranks, my name was suddenly on the start list! I remember this day very well. My palms were sweating and I was shaking! The adrenalin was coursing through my veins! I wasn’t sure if work would give me the 10 weeks off so had to have a think. What would my plan be if I ask them and they refuse? I thought about it overnight and when I had decided, it seemed very obvious. If they were to refuse me, then I would leave my job. I have been there for 10 years and the pay is ok, but TE is a dream for me that only comes around once in a lifetime and I knew that if I didn’t take this opportunity then I would regret it for the rest of my life. Fortunately, work have given me the time off as unpaid leave.
As the race drew closer I got more nervously excited. I have had some great performances this year winning two races, making it by far my strongest. I had races planned up until 5 weeks to go. The penultimate race on the list was the UTSW. This is where my story takes a turn for the worse. Without going into too much detail (read the post if you want to) 20 miles into the race, I twisted my ankle. I pulled out due to the extreme pain with a concerned mind, trying hard not to worry about TE.
In the weeks that have followed this, My ankle improved lots till it just halted. It now has a slight bit of swelling and a good but not great mobility. I am pretty sure that there is not enough time for it to recover enough to enable me to run for 64 days straight. My experience from the JOGLE has taught me that you don’t need to be in top fitness, but you do need you body to be in good uninjured shape. I know that some people will say that this is possibly a little negative, but I honestly just see it as realistic.
I have thought long and hard about whether to start and I just think I would regret not starting, especially seeing as this is the last ever TE. So, my plan is to start and enjoy the atmosphere and the great event that this is. I will run until my body stops me. I will take one step at a time and if that gets me to the end of one day then I will be grateful.
As I’m sure you can understand, this has been heartbreaking for me, but what has surprised me is that I have managed to remain positive but realistic for the most part. I appreciate the power of the mind so will stay positive. Also, the other day when I felt a little down about it all, I suddenly had the realisation that I should be grateful for the fact that I will be on the start line at all. So many people around the world will never have the opportunity to even consider taking part in such an event due to not being physically able, not having the finance, not believing they have the ability, coming from a third world country and so many other reasons. I now see that what I have is a truly incredible opportunity to have a unique experience which will enrichen my life and add so much more than what ultra running already has. I can’t wait!
I plan to keep this updated day to day but depending on whether I find some free wifi or the energy there may be a few days gaps every now and then.