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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.

Such a long time... part 1

crawlingkiwiby crawlingkiwiMay 10th 2015
It has literally been years since I was last using this blog regularly and wow, it has been fascinating looking back and seeing where i was and realising how far things (me?) have progressed. My last posting was written in the months after my 50th birthday, when i was trying to come out of the despair I felt at getting older, while achieving nothing. From a more balanced perspective nearly three years on, I was already achieving so much, impacting children's lives, raising three amazing daughters, but it was difficult to see. At that time I decided to train for an ironman - which didn't happen, but I can't quite remember why. I wasn't going to do the DW again (the long distance canoeing race), but following a Xmas trip to NZ realised I simply didn't have the time to train, so was going to support my K2 partner to try and do it in a K1.

However, roll on Easter 2013. Two things happened. Firstly, I landed my dream job to start in the September (I work in Education, so everything is run by the term dates) and my friend who i was to support in the race decided she couldn't possibly do the race in a K1, it was too lonely and isolating for her. After a while, I agreed to step in and do the 4 day version with her but then, just under 2 weeks before the day she damaged her back quite badly. Race day arrived, with a canal thick with ice. This meant we had to trail others through the broken shards and sometimes had to get out and portage. We were doing well and were sitting in the top 5, when H's back became more and more painful, so we slowed. And slowed and became even slower. In the freezing cold, I simply couldn't keep my body temperature up nor could i keep my hands warm enough. I was ok when we were paddling, but when we portaged (ran the locks carrying the boat) the ice wind cut through my skin. We made it to the end of Day 1 and 35 miles, but it was obvious to everyone that this couldn't carry on. With H's injury, we were several hours longer than we should have been and it simply wasn't feasible to keep this up for four days. Obvious to everyone except H, who did not want to withdrawn. I was worried about long term damage to her back and to both of us our in the freezing temperatures. Eventually the decision was made that we would have to withdraw, which was the right decision in the circumstances. the four day event was never our main aim and was only something we decided to do at the last minute. H was injured and after just one day, I had frost-nip in my fingers and it would be more than two months before i regained full feeling in them. It was a difficult decision, but the right one. We vowed we would do the race again, but properly. Training together to do the non-stop version in 2014.

in the summer of 2013 H and I competed in the National Marathon champs (in our age group) and came second, which was my second silver medal at national level although the other was a divisional race so this one was really quite special.

All was going well and although I had started my new job which meant long hours and frequent weekends (the joys of a boarding school), I was just about managing to fit in training. Then just around October H dropped a bomb-shell on me. She didn't think I would be able to train enough to do the DW and wanted to find a new partner. After years of successful paddling together and a good friendship, I took it hard. I know it was a difficult decision for her to make, but I was unbelievably disappointed. It would be 18 months (ie last week) before I would sit in a boat again. That is how devastated I felt. H did go onto paddle the DW with a new (male) partner and although he then pulled out 2 weeks before this year's race, she managed to find someone else again last minute and did an even faster time. I hope we get in a boat together again soon, as I genuinely miss our paddles together and have FINALLY managed to get over myself to move on! Especially as being dumped has led me to achieve so much more than I ever would have thought.

So. Christmas of 2013 and my father in NZ was extremely ill and not expected to make it, so I flew out on Christmas Day. I was getting quite unfit, even more overweight and still smarting from being kicked out of my boat. But while I was in NZ I started walking with my sister. In NZ lots of the races have walking divisions - fast walking divisions. Not the sort of bottom wiggling official race walking stye, but for people who can't or don't want to run, they can walk a 10k, or a half or even a full marathon. My sister had started competing in some of those and was doing very well. It started me thinking...

On my return to the UK I started searching for something similar which I could do and discovered a 100k walk from London to Brighton. And that is when everything changed.
 
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