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Tuesday, May 18, 2010

100km de Vendee 2010

I have a mental block. I am trying to put before you on screen the highs and lows of the past few days but it's a struggle, really. My amazing wife Alicia has already blogged her view on the web site and its a bloody good read. As for me, I can only try and emulate her piece.

Firstly I must say that to sink your teeth into a 100km race you need the support of your family and I had that in spades. My tremendous mother who has supported me in everything I have done since I was a little boy, flew over with my sister to look after the kids as Alicia and I headed for the west on our mission. I cant thank them enough, along with my family who could not make it I owe them all the gratitude in the world. And so with the kiddies in the best of care we embarked.

I was very excited about this adventure but the most enjoyable part was spending some time with my wife, driving through the countryside with the windows down and some rock blaring on the speakers. It reminded me of when we first met and how lucky I am that we are still together after all we have battled through. I love you dearly Al and would never have succeeded without your belief in me. Once we had arrived it began to dawn on me that the business end of the trip was beckoning and before I knew it I was waking up at 2.30am to face down my challenge. Preparing myself and having breakfast was all a blur really as I tried to focus on the job at hand, time passed quickly and at 5.00am the 600+ lunatics took off in darkness. A few of the runners had head torches and there was also a few motor bikes strung out beside the pack. But other than that it was pretty dark and quiet, all that was to be heard was the breath of the people around you and the patter of over a thousand legs. Every person asking themselves "will I finish today?" I did not know if I would, I just hoped that I would find it in myself to not let the Autistic kids down. They struggle pretty much for life, my suffering would only be temporary.

The laps went without incident (the course was 6x16.6km's), Alicia cycled beside me for a few and an occasional pause for fuel was the only time I slowed down. However, it was on the fifth lap that my mental battle really started to boil. I had hit the wall and found it extraordinarily difficult to get any sort of rhythm going, I was reduced to this sloppy shuffle and even the sound of my dragging heels told their own story. Alicia doubled back on the course to find me mumbling and really down. I had a rumbling tummy, aching ankles and spasms that shot down my calf muscles with increasing regularity. Luckily she had her game face on and told me that if I could not continue it was OK! But, I would forever regret it if I did. She also told me that I was "Running for Pearl" and walking was not part of the equation. So with about 20km to go I closed my eyes and pictured my kids, I looked at Alicia and told her I would never quit, ever. Then I ran, I ran to the finish line, I had 16km's to go and stuffed some oranges down my throat to keep me from falling over . When it started to rain as I was going up a hill I took of my hat and screamed the sky "Is this all you f**king got, come on". I was so angry for having walked, so desperate to finish and wondering if there was any way at all I could keep up this pace for 13 more km's. Alicia had her motivational phrases down to a tee at this stage and said all the right things, jokes were cracked when needed and her intuition into my state of mind saved the day. I pushed beyond what I was capable of and I cannot tell you what its like when you pass a sign saying '98km'. I saw 2-3 guys in front and just went for it, something clicked and I raced towards the line. I could see the finish flags and the crowds in the distance as Alicia took off on her bike leaving me the last kilometre alone. Turning into the avenue and seeing people rising out of their seats, calling your name and talking about Autism amongst themselves just blew my tired ass right of the map. When I crossed that line I saw the clock, 12:21:17, then I saw Alicia and we hugged so very hard, both crying with joy and heavy emotion. We had done it, together. I will never be able to convey what it felt like for us to have shared such a deep adventure, all I know is that it strengthened our bond and our fight in a world that can sometimes be quite ignorant. I did this to bring awareness to Autism and it certainly did that, its not about me it's about the heroic kids, the patient and loving families, the single parents who may be struggling and feel like they have no one. They are the real heroes who have a never a ending love inside them and do the best they can by their kids. You are the guys who keep me going and whose actions deserve all the recognition.

I want to finish by saying that with all the division in the ASD camp over treatments and therapies etc its time to calm down and see other peoples opinions. If you don't agree then fine, but just listen. We all need to air our grievances and a problem shared can really be a problem halved, whatever therapy works for your son or daughter may not work for someone else. But if we turn on each other we may as well give up altogether. Thanks to all of you who wished me well and continue to do so. You are a part of all I attempt. Now back on the road for the 50km in 3 weeks time ;-)

See you round the bend.


(my new buddy Jean-Louis and I having a drink)

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Running for Pearl

This blog is dedicated to my daughter Pearl who was diagnosed with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) in August 2009. My goal is to raise funds and awareness by doing what I love....Running.