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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.

Finally, a bit of race preparation I'm really good at

crawlingkiwiby crawlingkiwiApr 17th 2011
After a 35 miler last weekend, I've entered the final stages of race preparation: specifically tapering and eating. I've been out for short jaunts this week, including taking 10 kids over to a neighbouring club for a day's training, but have kept all outings to under 10k. I'm finding the resting bit quite good, but as when I've done triathlons, part of me still worries about not doing anything. I expect that all fitness I've gained will just disappear and I have to remind myself that tapering and recovering from the long races I've done so far, is essential.

The other part of the race preparation is great - eating! I've been told on good authority that it's ok to gain a stone in the build-up, but I have no plans to do that!! A friend who completed the DW last year said his weight didn't change at all, but he dropped 2% of body-fat. I noticed a 1.5% drop in body-fat after my 35 mile race, and that hasn't changed. I find it difficult to let go and eat anything, when most of my adult life seems to have been spent trying to fight my not insubstantial weight! Interestingly through all the training I've done, my weight has dropped aout 7 pounds, but my body shape has obviously changed even more, as all the clothes I 'grew' out of about 4 years ago, fit really well.

Having realised as I came off the water at 3pm today that I had forgotten lunch again, I started dreaming of a KFC - which I haven't had a couple of years. By the time I was showered and changed this was becoming a minor obsession, but I had no idea where a local KFC was. Fortunately a quick search on my phone located one and I tucked in. I have to say the anticipation was better than the reality, so it will probably be another coujple of years before I indulge again.

Planning is in its final stages, eating loads of carbs is going quite well (and on today's evidence, so is consuming vast qualities of fat!), and the short sessions on the water are ok. I'm hoping to get a sports massage in the next couple of days, as my hamstrongs are really tight and my lower back is still a bit achey. We're doing a night-time paddle tonight as Helen hasn't paddled at night yet and that might throw up some issues.

I did have a bit of a panic yesterday, when someone I didn't know recognised me on the river and said he was aiming for 21/22 hours for the DW, but was starting at the same time as us. Unlike a normal race, where you choose a start-time and just go until you finish, we have to accurately predict our race time, to ensure we reach mile 107 at high tide, which is 7.56am. We will be allowed past this point from 7.30am until 10.30 am - arrive too late and we have to wait for 12 hours until the evening tide. The paddler on the river said the window to be allowed to continue on to Westminster was 7am until 9am, which would mean our timings were really out. Cue panicked trip home, detailed re-reading of the rules and guidlines and even more confusion. I contacted a friend who is the chief supporter for another crew aiming for 24 hours (we're aiming for 25) - after a bit of to-ing and fro-ing I could relax, my times and schedules are ok. I know I shouldn't listen to others, but this was the 2nd time in 3 days someone has told me predicted times which made no sense against our predictions.

So this week is about resting up and eating. We are having our boat checked and a pump fitted and I'll be experimenting with the best way of securing our compulsory kit inside the boat so as not to make us unbalanced. There is a hell of a lot of energy drink to make up, food to prepare and we each need 3 bags of kit for complete changes en route (I have purchased some large towels which do up round us, in an attempt to preserve a little bit of modesty.)

In the evenings, I've already been looking for our next challenge. My partner has already given a categoric NO to the triathlon these guys are doing: They are finishing with the 125 mile DW, having done the Bob Graham run and the John O'Groats to Lands End cycle, over 6 days. I'm looking with interest at some of the Coast 2 Coast races, but my running is currently non existant, so I'd need a lot of effort to prepare for that. Maybe I should just try and get through next weekend first - but the prospect of another taper and week of eating is quite encouraging!
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