I’ve been training hard for years, and years, and years. At age 12, I began running. I rode horses competitively all through my childhood. I’ve lifted weights, crazy, heavy weights for about the same number of years. I’ve completed more adventure races, trail races, and road races than I can count.
But never has training been like this. Ever since Team Inspiration began (that’s us below, me in the Bitumen is Boring shirt).
Back in January, ten kilometres was my long run, my stretch run that took me from my home in Hampton to the cliffs at Red Bluff where I’d regather my chi (something I’d learned about in my time in Hong Kong), and then run home again.
Then I signed up for the Salomon Trail Series, where the distances grow longer with each race beginning with 10.8 km in Studley Park, then progressing a few kilometres longer each month. My aim was to get to 16km to be ready for the fourth and final race in the series on September 23rd.
But, as fate and Facebook had it, I helped create this monster, err, I mean Ultramarathon Relay Team, I mean Team Inspiration, and that has raised the stakes. Now we’re going for the Surfcoast Century 100km Ultramarathon on September 22nd. My relay leg is 21 kilometres along the beach and coastal rocks. The training? I’ve been advised by a very skilled athlete on how to increase my distance safely. I’ve only increased 2km extra per week. A few weeks back, I made the jump from16km to 18km. Seemed insane, but I did it. Then the following week, I went from 18 to 20. Wacko territory. Still, I wasn’t certain I could nail the 21 on race day, so today, I went up to 22. About five of that was on the beach, soft sand, sinky sand, killer sand.
I got home elated – I’d made it. Okay, my foot hurt a bit from the sand in my shoe, but I was all right. I cycled to watch my kids at a mini-olympic day. Had lunch. But about 4:00 pm, I bonked. Now, this would be cool were I twenty-five, single, and had time to put up my feet. But the kids were home from school, there was school lunch to make for the next day, dinner to be cooked and cleaned up. And there I was, bonked, exhausted, too tired to stand up.
Twelve days left until I hit the beach in Anglesea, for the first leg of the Surfcoast Ultramarathon. I can’t bring myself to fully comprehend the race directions just yet. Could be denial. Could be that I can’t focus more than five minutes in front of myself just now.
Tomorrow I’m going to be on the radio to talk about why we are doing this mad, exhausting, exhilarating thing. Thinking of it now, thinking our goal is to inspire others, seems too weak a thing to say. Of course we want to inspire others, but there’s more to it than that.
Proving to ourselves that we can do this, and taking that proof back into the rest of our lives, living life fully, with gusto, facing down the challenge, trying harder than we think we can. Accepting that this will hurt and that, in the end, it is not the hurt that matters, but the doing.
We are here to do extraordinary things. So what if we get tired when doing them? The sights I’ve seen just by increasing my training runs from 10 to 22 kilometres. The realisation of how very far my legs can carry me now. That’s why we do it.
Tired? So what. On the long journey that is this glorious, juicy, wondrous life, what is a little bit of tired?
Next to me on my desk is a little note about the training I’d have to do to run a 50 km race on my own, written in small print on a notepad I use for recording our finances. Only time will tell…