I’ve been meaning to write a post-run blog for ages, but instead, I put my writing energy into compiling the entire Dragonrun1027 story into a book form, more on that another time. I’ve decided however to write this entry to give an insight into the difficulties faced following a massive endurance challenge.
Right now I am sitting here with an Aircast on a broken ankle, obtained on Saturday whilst running funnily enough. The real frustration was that in just 2 and a half weeks time I was due to take part in the Ring O Fire Ultra marathon. A race that could get me qualification points towards a race I long to do… The Ultra Trail Mont Blanc. Unfortunately that dream is shattered, and whilst the words “there’s always next year” may appear comforting, they are hard to take as mental and physical endurance takes a long time to build, and I was ready for it this year. Next year will be a lot harder for me, but I’ll damn well try my hardest!
Yes I know there are plenty worse off and blah blah blah, but that’s the case with anything, and I’m pretty sure that anyone who is sports obsessed (as in doing not watching!), who competes, who works in sport or who has studied sports psychology will understand where I’m coming from when I say gutted isn’t the word! I’ve spent years working with athletes and helping them through the mental and physical pain that injury can cause. For many of us, being told you can’t train does more than effect fitness, some of us use training to channel energy away from other trauma, as a coping mechanism, and when that is removed where do you turn?
Anyhow, moving away from the immediate dramas, what happened post run? Here are some answers to the good old FAQ’s! (in rough order of popularity!)
Did you do any damage to yourself?
Yes, I did, but a minimal amount in the grand scale of things. I came away from the run with some cartilage damage to my left knee, that I had known about since Day 4, and that was kind of it! Thankfully the strength I gained during the run (thighs like a wrestler! ha ha!) helped to keep any serious damage at bay.
Was it a relief to stop running?
I thought it would be, but it wasn’t! For weeks afterwards I was really restless and just couldn’t keep still! Mentally all I wanted to do was get back out there and run again. I also had an altered perception about a lot of things, but I guess that’s inevitable after 6 weeks of fighting with your mind.
What was the first thing you craved after finishing?
Apart from a pint of Bow, which I finally got a few hours after finishing! It was to curl up on the sofa with a cup of tea and crap tv!
How long before you ran again?
5 days! I had to keep moving or my body would have gone a bit nuts! I went for a 3 mile run and then a 5 mile a few days later. My joints ached, but it felt amazing running on much fresher legs!
Would you do it again?
In a heartbeat! I still have a lot of cash to raise for Velindre and Gozo CCU, so you never know!
How much did you raise?
It’s still rising, but in the region of £9K for Velindre and £2k for Gozo CCU. I’m determined to reach the £25K target, so will be doing charity auctions and various other events too!
I’m cooking up some ideas. Watch this space! The injury is a set back, but it’ll make me come back with something ridiculus no doubt!
Favourite bit of the route?
Anglesey! I didn’t know what to expect from Anglesey where as I was prepared for other sections, and it really did blow me away. The Ceredigion coast is stunning too, but I wasn’t in a very good mindset whilst running that section, so that affected my perception a bit. I’d love to go back to a lot of sections and walk them so that I can fully appreciate them. The downside of running the distances I was doing was that there was very little time to really appreciate surroundings or to stop off anywhere. I want to do most of it again, much slower and with tea and cake on the way! hee hee!
Did you get a World Record?
Touchy subject! From the beginning I made it clear that I wasn’t doing it for a personal record, even though I was the first to run the route. I was encouraged to contact Guiness, as the publicity from an official record, could potentially boost fundraising.
The response from Guinness in the first instance when I attempted to register it was that a charitable cause record couldn’t be registered. This info turned out to be wrong, so when I contacted retrospectively not expecting anything as they weren’t able to verify, my response was that they didn’t feel that it was “Internationally significant like swimming the Channel” - So, after 40 days of running, covering over 1000 miles in distance and over 40,000 meters in ascent and descent, I could have swum 30 miles or stuffed hundreds of marshmallows in my mouth and got a record! Needless to say if someone a few years down the line tries registering the same record after Guinness have woken up from their bubble and seen that the first perimeter path around a country is attracting International interest and challengers, I will be fighting it all the way!
I’m recogised as the first by all the relevant organisations involved in the development of the paths, so for the sake of obtaining support for the charities and further sponsorship I will be advertising as such (just without the word Guinness! - Who needs them anyway!)
Is it back to normality now?
Yes, if “normal” is a word that can ever be used to describe me! :o) I’m back to the day job, and back to my Sports Therapy Business (and I’m an even harder task master now!). In addition I’ve been asked to do some motivational speaking, which I’m happy to do, as I hope my experiences can encourage others to push themselves in ways they never thought possible. Any funding that I can get out of that and from the story when it is finally out there will be used to boost the fundraising for Velindre and Gozo CCU.
In addition to the people who I have thanked for their support during the run, I have a few thank you’s for the people who have kept me relatively sane afterwards…
Andy: Mr Arry continues to be a legend! And one who has just brought me home from a hospital appointment and handed me Dairy Milk and Ben&Jerrys.. You rock!
Spud Allen: Spud told me after I had finished that I would need his help more now than I did during, and as a fellow multimarathon challenger, he was right. Spud picked me up and helped me deal with the emotions following it. A true friend, who I will miss now he leaves to start a new life in the good ole US of A!
Becca and Fadge: These guys were there at the best and worst times during the run, and have kept me giggling now it’s over! Dream Team forever!
Piers Bramhall: Another true friend, he’s been on the end of the phone and email and has kept the laughter going throughout! Watch this space, we’re working on world domination…. oh yes we are!
Everyone who has continued to support myself and the charities: I am so grateful for you for believing in me and the causes, even though many roll their eyes when I come up with a new idea (oh, yes, you thought I hadn’t seen you!) you don’t try and stop me… with the exception of when I decided I was going to do a 131 mile race 2 weeks after breaking my ankle… I’ll let you have that one!
Once the ankle has repaired itself Ultra training begins once again, and I aim to be a regular in the world of Ultra racing.
For the time being though, if you never got the chance to donate, or if you have a new found urge to top up the total a bit, here’s the link! www.justgiving.com/dragonrun1027
Luke Maggs has compiled a little summary vid from the challenge (thank you Luke!) That I have no idea how to embed on here, so here’s the link!
"Run if you can, Walk if you have to, Crawl if you must…. just never give up!"