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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.

Brain function and exercise...

crawlingkiwiby crawlingkiwiFeb 6th 2011
Some people can undoubtedly perform complex mathematics in their head while running or cycling, they can estimate splits and their ultimate finish time to within a few seconds. Me? I have a singular inability to even count accurately when I'm training, let alone perform basic calculations.

In the past, I've been unable to count to 4 when trying to swim 100m efforts. Frequently I'd do 6 lengths and would only notice later when I checked the time splits. Once in a race, I mis-read the 'km to go' sign and pushed hard for the 'last km', only to discover there were still 2 more to go. In a 10k race, I'm not sure how I managed to mis-count so badly!

We have always felt that canoeing damages the intellect for a short time - my daughters have frequently said and done spectacularly stupid things after they've been training or racing and now that I'm training by doing long sessions, something similar is happening to me. During the week I did an interval sessions with my watch beeping at me every minute - all I had to do was to count for 6 minutes, then have 1 min rest, count 5 then rest, count 4 ... down to 1. But I simply couldn't do it. Somewhere between 4 and 3 I lose count and have no idea how many minutes I've done. it is frustrating, but because I'm training in the dark I can't look at a watch.

For our upcoming major race (74 days away) we have to be able to estimate our time fairly accurately. If we are to hit Teddington at high tide, a mere 107.7 miles into the race, we have to count backwards from there to estimate our starting time. To do this, we need to know our pace and predict our time from there. Today, we paddled 23 miles, a long long ... long way. I spent much of it puzzling over what speed we needed to maintain if we're to try and do the race within 24 hours. At no point was I able to perform the incredibly simple calculation - and yet as soon as I'm off the water normal brain function appears to return and I can figure it out.

As long as we can average a little over 5mph - including the time we take on the portages - we should be able to achieve 24/25 hours. If we manage to do the through-the-night event and get to Westminster in one piece, I suspect my inability to do maths may remain for some time.

Perhaps it's my brain's way of protecting me from the certain knowledge that 125 miles non-stop, is a hell of a long way!
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