I was having a discussion on the phone with one of my closest friends just a few hours ago and he decided to tell me, mid sentence, "I think you're mad". We were catching up on life and kids and I was telling him about the effort we as a family put into doing the best we can for Pearl (and Dylan too) and how running has opened up a new journey for me. The reason I am "mad" apparently is the direction in which the running has taken me. You see for me running a Marathon was an amazing experience and just about anyone who has ever completed one will tell you the same. No matter how fast or slow you do it, its the same for the winner as it is for the person who crosses the line last......it's a battle of will. The true test of ones spirit and an endurance challenge that most people can participate in given the right training. I mean in what other sport do you get the worlds greatest athletes on the same playing field as someone who is running dressed as a chicken? You don't see weekend cyclists mixing it with Lance Armstrong and the boys at the Tour de France, no, no ,no. The Marathon hooked me and my first reaction was "what can I do next?"
I became immersed in the world of running, magazine subscriptions, reading runners blogs, checking out the latest running shoes, started a training log, making it the corner stone of our web site and this blog you see here before you. So naturally it wasn't long until my attention was grabbed by Ultra-runners and I started to read stories of some staggering achievements. People who have ran across deserts, ran 300 miles non stop, ran Marathons in the North and South poles, 100 mile mountain races in under 24 hours, ran on treadmills for 48 hours.... seriously the list goes on and on. I decided that I was going to up my game too and take on a 100km run, which most readers here already know, and see if I had the cojones to push myself further than I thought possible. Well I have never been more confident that it is possible and this is due to a few factors. The most important one for me is the psychological aspect. I think ultra-running is a state of mind even more than it is about the training, sure you need your body in good shape and have laid the foundation for your endeavour, but I think that when I hit km #90 I am going to have to dig deeper into my psyche than ever before. I guess I will know in nine weeks time.
The other reason people may think these Herculean undertakings are bonkers is because of the way our lifestyles have changed and we have forgotten that we ARE capable of so much more than the daily grind. Exercise has become less a part of our natural lives. The video games, take out meals, technological evolutions, modes of transportation etc etc have all had an impact on our bodies, lets face it everything has become much more disposable and access to a world of products and materials is usually no further away than pressing a few buttons. Yes I may typing this on buttons myself and opening up a whole other can of worms but you get the drift. What really galvanised this train of thought was reading a book called "Survival of the Fittest" by Dr Mike Stroud. He has walked with Sir Ranulph Fiennes, unaided, across the Antarctic and ran 7 Marathons, 7 days, 7 continents to name just a few of his many impressive triumphs. In the book he explains that our bodies are meant to run long distances as our ancestors were hunter gatherers and had to travel great lengths to hunt, often during times of extreme starvation (no double-boar-burger with cheese those days). Obviously the domesticated lifestyle of today is a far cry from thousands of years ago but our bodies have not changed that much. I highly recommend it for anyone considering a challenge of any sort, its an inspirational piece of work and might be just what you need to make a change.
I now have running in my blood and never been happier and, take it from an ex smoker and former beer guzzler, the grass is definitely greener on this side. I think I've finally found my path.
See you round the bend.