Four weeks in, 20 to go until I most likely break myself somewhere on the Pembrokeshire Coast Path, trying to run its 186 mile length in three days.
Training is going okay. My legs are standing up to the miles and, although I’ve skipped the odd gym session, I can feel my body changing for the better and there’s been no hint of injury (touch wood). All this hasn’t stopped me questioning why I’m doing this though.
WTF am I doing?
Now, I’m not saying any of the training so far has been hell (see this week’s schedule above), although it has involved certain sacrifices and adjustments to family life, as well as the odd outing in gale force winds, sleet and snow.
But all this is slowly building towards events that could’ve been dreamt up by Satan himself: June’s Marathon des Cote (that’s the said jaunt in Pembrokeshire); September’s 100 mile Snowdonia Ultra; and the 150 mile plus Marathon des Sables (MdS) in the Moroccan Sahara in April, 2019.
“More hellish than hell,” is how Sir Ranulph Fiennes described parts of the MdS after becoming the oldest Brit to complete it in 2015. And he should know about hell, given that in his 73 years he’s walked Antarctica, cut his own fingers off due to frostbite on a similar trek in the North Pole, summited Everest on his third attempt and much more besides. What a legend.
The words of another legend, George Mallory, when asked why he climbed Everest (“because it’s there”), pop into my head when people question me on my motives for wanting to put myself through the hell of the MdS. But this explanation is inadequate. The answer is that I don’t really know.
Some might roll their eyes and say all this – the running and the blog – is a cry for attention. They’d be partly right. I am trying to raise awareness and funds for three very worthy causes – JRDF, T1International and Diabetes UK – and I’ve been told more than once that I show all the signs of being an attention starved middle child (I was the third of four kids).
Part of it, aside from my love of the calm that running for miles alone brings, is that I want to test myself. I want to see if I have what it takes to keep pushing while everything inside me is telling me to stop. I want to see what’s left in me after everything else has been stripped away by the miles. I had a glimpse of this when I circumnavigated the Isle of Wight in a day but I want to see more.
But maybe the main reason is this: I want to prove that type one diabetes needn’t be a barrier for anyone, no matter where they live. All they need is education, encouragement and access to the right treatments.