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Middle-aged, middle-weight, mother of 3 on mad marathon mission
Middle-aged, middle-weight, mother of 3 on mad marathon mission
When I started this blog, it was to track my progress from an occasional kayaker to taking on the Devizes to Westminster non stop 125 race. Little did I know that would start me on a long distance obsession which has resulted in my completing the 30th Marathon des Sables. It has been a strange and sometimes painful ... but always wonderfully challenging journey

This is my occasional account of a middle-age mother's attempt to take on things which are really quite beyond her.

And then this happened (part 2)

crawlingkiwiby crawlingkiwiMay 10th 2015
Having found something else on which to focus, from January 2014 it was all about the walking.

I am not sure why, but I was I never had any doubts that I could walk 100km. I had paddled much further on water non stop so in my mind, this meant I could walk a shorter distance on my own. And so I did.

I trained when I was able to fit it in around my long days and weekend work, and wherever possible my beloved jack russell and I were out pounding the trails. My husband was (perhaps a little too) happy to drive me into the depths of the countryside, kick me out and tell me to find my own way home. And in a comparatively short amount of time and following a 12 week training programme, I was easily covering 30 or 40 km in one go. I a 50k walk from the centre of London along the river to Weybridge - with Tess the unstoppable dog at my side. So when the event came round in May, I was quietly confident I could make it.

On the day, while it felt strange not having my canine training partner with me (she had accompanied me on every single training session and I have no doubt would have finished the 100km still as energetic as when she started). This was a really important event for me, as I discovered quite a lot about myself. I realised that I am capable of reaching a walking speed which is generally faster than most, and can maintain that for long periods of time. The weather on the day of the event was horrific, torrential rain which turned large swathes of the trails into mud, making it impossible to stay upright. I have never known anything like it. I literally couldn't take a step without sliding and falling, so would try and stand on the brambles at the sides holding onto anything I could to keep upright. The frustration of being passed by people (with better footwear and/or poles) whom I had motored past earlier, was immense. As we all had different start times and there were huge numbers taking part, I always seemed to be trying to get past slower people.

I reached the halfway point in excellent spirits, to be met by my ever supportive husband who had spare clothes and good cheer for me! I didn't stop for long, as I had realised I simply needed to keep moving and set off into the dark for the second 50km. At around 75km I fell again in the mud and as I hit the ground I felt a searing pain around my knee. I couldn't believe it. As I lay there I decided that if it really was a damaged knee, I would have to stop but if it was a damaged 'anything else', I would pretend there was no pain and continue. After rolling around in the slime for a few minutes nearly passing out from the pain, I was able to sit up and then to stand. I immediately realised that whatever had happened, it wasn't around the kneecap, so THERE WOULD BE NO PAIN OR INJURY. And I continued walking. [I had damaged at the top of my calf where the hamstring - I think - joins and it would take a long time to heal properly in the following weeks and months, but it was nothing too serious.]

People were dropping out all around me because of the conditions, tiredness and injury, while I pushed on. My absolutely favourite moment came shortly after sunrise when I motored past a group of blokes probably in their late twenties or early thirties. They looked at me and somewhat patronisingly told me I was 'doing really well'. Then they asked what time I had started and fell quite silent when they realised it was two hours after them and I was beating them soundly.

Finally the race-course in Brighton came into view and with it, the finish line. I had told everyone i had wanted to go under 24 hours, but secretly I had hope to go under 20. With the mud, numbers of competitors (we had to queue a lot to wait to go over the stiles) I managed 21 hours and 45 min, which was still a good time. Again, I finished feeling quite invincible.

So what to do next? Well it was obvious really. If I could walk 100km through the pissing rain, then there was really only one thing to follow that up with wasn't there? The Hardest Footrace on Earth ... I would do the Marathon des Sables.
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