After arriving at, er, arrivals in Gatwick to a rapturous reception of family and friends cheering the Mds Class of ’13 home, I hugged my BFF tent mates goodbye and then came home to face life after the Marathon des Sables.
The race that had been dominating my life day for every single day for over 6 months.
Here is what happened next:
I ate. A lot. And awful lot really. Too much. I had lost a fair amount of weight in the desert and the endless nut bars and freeze dried food had given me an appetite for virtually everything. I indulged in every single thing I wanted to eat. It was brilliant.
I was buzzing for DAYS. It had sunk in what had happened, and everyone from my work colleagues in meetings, to the postman, to random people on the train were asking me how it went and congratulating me. I spent every day for about 20 days talking to people about it. I managed to refine my race patter down to a succinct report. A huge joy was talking to my local running Club – Farnham Runners, about the race. They presented me with a sand timer for my efforts. I was hugely touched.
I luxuriated in simple things like a nice bath and the ability to use social media.
I found work hard to focus on.
Still elated, I decided to run! Oh yes I did. My feet where still in shreds but I felt the urge. You don’t get to run very fast in the Mds (I had a few episodes of this … mainly towards the finish line each day) I felt a burning urge to thrash out some miles. I did a fast-as-I-could 4 mile run three days after returning to the UK. It felt great!! And gave it until the weekend to run more. Two weeks later I was back to my normal training routine.
My feet began to heal slowly.
Perhaps a little punch drunk from the medal around my neck, I entered a gluttony of races. These include 2 Ultra marathons. Round the Rock – a 48 mile race round Jersey, and Toad Challenge – a 90 mile multi stage race, and two marathons, Chester and Portsmouth Coastal marathon. I ran an appallingly slow 10k kindly arranged by I-Run and Nike UK (the speed work is a post Mds focus for me I have lost a lot of pace.) I have one race a month now to see me to the end of 2013. I also have put my name down for Jungle Marathon. It’s the same as the Mds, except in a jungle. With river crossings. And leeches. And Spiders. I was clearly not thinking straight.
I went through a phase of being grumpy with myself for not pushing myself harder in the race.
Then after a couple of weeks, the glow faded I felt very sad that the Mds was over. Its such an intense experience – I can honestly say it was the one of the best weeks of my life. It was such a huge thing to me, and I became glad I made sure I enjoyed it and took in my surroundings.
It occurred to me in this time of melancholic reflection about the race that the very best thing I came home to was the realisation how fantastic everyone had been. The brilliant support I had from family and from the excellent running community. Cheesy as it was, in this post race comedown, when I thought about it, I was overwhelmed by it.
My family – who are genuinely bored out their minds of me and the running, where beside themselves with excitement at the race following my slow progress on line at every stage.
I set about replying to the many, many messages of support I got in the desert. In the evenings in the desert you get your email messages. For me, I found these were delivered right at my weakest moment. When I was most tired back at camp. Hungry still, despite having eaten my days worth of food. Just before I was about to try to go to sleep and make efforts to think positively about the challenges of the next day ahead… I would get my mail and be genuinely enthused, touched and invigorated by the jokes, news and kind words.
this meant a lot to me as I knew that my daughter would have seen the message I had held up for her at the end of every single finish line. I found out that some running twitter followers where watching and supporting from all over the place. People I had not heard from since school were getting in touch to congratulate me. The running community is such a strong, kind, supportive group of people and I am so happy to be part of it. I wish to pass on huge heartfelt thanks to all who have supported me on my Mds journey.
I have nothing to be glum about now that race is over, there will be many more fantastic race experiences, and you lot, yes you, are all brilliant.
Onwards and upwards! I’m back on the ultra running, and taking on some speed training en route. Gauntlets have been thrown down to me. I’m going to try to tackle as many of them as possible! Bring it on!
Next up: Tough Mudder. “the Toughest event in the planet” apparently. I’ll be the judge of that…. ;-)