Challenge639



Challenge 9: Slippery when wet...

Today I towed the line at the Meon Valley Plod. This is a 21mile mixed terrain run that as the name suggests winds its way through the Meon Valley. As I waited for the start I withdrew into my own little world of self doubt & annoyance for not staying in the warm- the sensible option. 

After some inaudible race briefing we were off. I settled close to the rear & even managed a smile when the pace slowed as we were squeezed along a frozen footpath. Some runners clearly felt they should not suffer such an inconvinience & forced their way past others in a rude, brash manner. If you really are that good, start at the front. Otherwise relax!

As we passed the two mile marker I was rueing my decision to start & wondering whether to simply turn round & head back to the race HQ or to plod on & see what developed. My head was pounding & I was feeling very sorry for myself. When I raised my vision from the trail the views were lovely: rolling English countryside, shrouded in mist & dusted with snow.

The tracks continually changed from hard and icey, to wet & slushy, to muddy. The only consistent factor was a lack of traction from my ageing trail shoes & a lack of finesse on my part finding a way through. I am not sure I have ever personified grace whilst running but seldom have I travelled laterally as much without any hint of control.

A climb around the 12m mark was almost ridiculous with a complete absence of traction, even at the top the off camber section meant progress was (for me) slow & hesitant. I plodded on. My head convincing me I should a) not have started, b) should have pulled out in the first few miles, c) should pull out when an opportunity presented itself. I became self absorbed in this negative mind set to the exclusion of both those around me & the scenery.

It wasn't until the closing miles that I managed to break this cycle, helped by a nice cup of tea at the final aid station. Normally it is my mind that convinces my body it can carry on when its feeling tired. Today my mind was battling itself, setting limits & barriers while the body was still able (even if not functioning optimally).

The last few miles I thought about this & tried to relate it to Alfie & Arthur. The motivation behind Challenge639...

I can only hypothesise but  with many conditions that mark individuals out as different society is often very quick to suggest limits. I hope Alfie & Archie learn to challenge these with the support of Tony & Jenn (their mum & dad) & push & explore their own limits. 

This was not my hardest challenge to date in terms of either distance or terrain but it proved to be the most mentally challenging & it is for this reason that I am sharing the experience as part of Challenge639.

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