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Again, the title of the post is a little misleading. Since running the Behobia-San Sebastian 20km in November, I’ve only been on one run. And I owe posts about both of those runs, which will come in due course… luckily a calmer 2013 is just around the corner and I envisage weekends curled up with my laptop catching up on running news and sharing stories and plans.
But I wander off the trail of this post, which is all about M&MRC’s run up to Christmas and our plans for the festive season. Because, for the first time since we conquered the Andes in February, we will be back together again, in Argentina. While we’re both now in wintry climes, we’re heading south for a hot and sweaty Christmas and New Year’s break with family down there and in between, my wedding.
And we’ve planned a run for the morning of my nuptials (the wedding doesn’t start until 8pm so we’re not being freaky!) It’s going to be a magic four mile trot around the parks of Palermo. Maria will be breaking in her new orange Vibrams and I will be my normal orangeness with my sunnies and socks. We could actually run straight into the wedding like that and continue the orange theme, no one would notice…
When I told Martín this morning about the pre-wedding run he looked at me with those eyebrows raised and said, “Please don’t go and injure yourself.” Hmm, he knows me too well. But I won’t. It’ll be a fun run, we’ll enjoy it. Because it’s the run up to a very special event. Because it’s our last run of 2012 and to celebrate the running challenges we’ve achieved this year.
And we’ll enjoy it because M&MRC are back together again and love to run.
A VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS AND HAPPY NEW YEAR TO YOU FROM M&MRC!!
It’s been a while since my last post, but there’s been a lot going on. Weddings, new jobs, some freaky Norfolk weather which made me look outside and go URGH, NO!
I now write from my friend Jenny’s apartment in Pamplona, Spain. I arrived last night in order to spend the weekend and run the Behobia 20km. It’s like the Great North Run of Spain: a bit tough, super popular (25,000 runners) and finishes by the sea. The only thing it doesn’t do is raise a tonne of money for charity. They’re not accustomed to that here. The one thing it does do is finish in San Sebastián, gourmet central of Spain. If there’s anything that’s going to get me up those hills it’s the thought of fine Spanish wine, fantastic tapas and a dip in the water post-run. If I can get in that freezing lake after Day 1 of Cruce de los Andes, a cool-down in the bay of San Sebastián is going to be a breeze. And the wine, the wine will be waiting.
Anyway, Nando (Jen’s boyfriend) and I have just got back from a run along the river bordering Pamplona. This is the second time in two weeks that I have run with someone so I thought I better write about it; so used to running solo I now am.
Last week, I ran 8 windy, sunny, cloudy, muddy miles with Martín. Actually, that’s not quite right. He ran with me, which was a new experience. There he stayed, on my shoulder, 5 millimetres behind. Enough for us both to know it was my run, my pace, my route, my sprint, my ‘Come on!’ to get us up the hill in the wind. I was expecting a solid run, but fairly sedate and slow. I knew I was running faster with him on my shoulder. And him staying on my shoulder, lessening the pressure to keep up, but keeping up the pressure to stay at that pace helped. I finished stronger and quicker and felt a gratitude towards him becoming a runner that I never have before.
So, today it was with Nando, a very decent runner who especially loves mountains, and Mario, a Cuban guy more at home pumping weights in the gym than using his legs to move him more than walking pace. I ranked somewhere in the middle. I needed a run; it had been just over a week and with Sunday’s run looming I also needed a buddy, someone on my shoulder. Nando is a pace specialist. After about 15 minutes he said, “We’re doing about 5-minute-10, 5-minute-12 seconds per kilometer.” How did he know that?! Anyway, it worked. It was good to have someone there, making me talk, being at my shoulder which means no going back, only forwards. It was a lovely 6-miler along the river and parks and am I looking forward to Sunday’s endeavours.
Running is a great way to get alone time, a space to think, to leave the pressures of the day behind. But running with someone on your shoulder can give you a certain amount of good pressure, a little push which gets you to the end.
And that can be one weight off your shoulders.
After debating whether to sign up for the 30k I’d had my eyes on for weeks, I finally decided to cross it off my list. I only had a few more weeks in Buenos Aires and I didn’t want to have to plan my weekend activities around my longer runs. There was also the factor that my mom mentioned of going from winter to summer and getting acclimated before charging along. While I don’t know if it would have really been that big of a deal it was another reason to cancel the run.
I then took a step back from running and even had about a 2 week break in there. But now I’m back in Texas and I’m working on getting back in the routine again. I went out for what I thought would be 3 miles at 10:30 a.m. on the first try and couldn’t make it. Lesson learned: I must wake up earlier to beat the heat.
The second go was more successful. Although, I had a love/hate relationship with the wind. I went up the hill to the corner and felt good. I had to head down before doing the same route again to get in my planned 4 miles. As I turned to go downhill I suddenly realized there was a cool wind blowing. It’d been pushing me along the whole way, but I hadn’t even noticed. While I was thankful to have the air move around me to cool me off a bit, it was also annoying to feel the wind in only one direction. I headed back up the hill again and while knowing there was wind helping me along I still didn’t really notice it’s presence as I had while heading directly into it.
Isn’t it amazing how different a tailwind is to a headwind? They are both there yet one makes its presence much more obvious than the other. I’ve even had moments where I had the sensation that the air would just swirl around me as I was headed into the wind no matter my direction, but at least this time I knew it had to be helping me when I needed it most…going up the hill.
As Maria has already written, and as you will guess from the title, M&MRC, Equipo 90 (and all the other names we are now known by!) have made it through the Cruce de los Andes. We have run, climbed, slid, stepped, walked, waded, ducked, rolled over, pounded, staggered, shuffled and run a bit more as if our lives depended on it to cross the line three days in a row and complete what I have to say has been the challenge of a lifetime, thus far.
It has been marvellous, magical and momentous. We have minged; we have mocked; and we have marvelled.
And we have made a mountain of memories.
As stories filter through on this blog over the next days/weeks/months/years/decades (you can be sure) I just wanted to pause a second and reflect on something we discussed yesterday and which came up again in conversation with my mum.
With grins a mile wide, tired eyes and quads which were aching for a massage, we sat on the bus leaving San Martín de los Andes on Monday. We remembered our worst five minutes of the race, we did impressions of those we had met and we generally distracted ourselves from the reality we were facing once it was all well and truly over.
At one point, I said: “I think this has been good for M and F (our boyfriends).”
“Why is that?” Maria replied.
“It will get them used to it, won’t it?”
The fact there was a laugh and a knowing smile instead of words told me all I needed to know.
For, now this challenge is over, there are expectations in other areas of our lives. Another two ‘M’s that like to be thrown at us: Marriage and Motherhood.
I ask myself, are they mutually exclusive? Surely not. We have met people from all over Latin America and beyond who were doing El Cruce 2012 and it was such a mixed bag: old couples, youngish friends, women pushing their boundaries while their teenage children waited for them at the finish line. We met men who train 6 days a week. And they have wives, ex-wives, children and jobs to deal with. But everyone agreed on one thing: the support of their family.
We have had amazing support from our families and friends, both near and far. And I think we’ve both realized that we’re going to have to ask for it time and again as live goes on and M&MRC throws itself at more challenges and feats.
We have proved we can make it. Now we’ve got to prove we can make it work in our lives.
Today, I did everything different for the second of the back-to-back 13 milers. I got up a bit earlier. I had a completely different breakfast (dont’ tell Maria there was no peanut butter involved). I wore the other trainers. I put on different running clothes. Different weights went into the camelbak, as well as a different flavoured Lucozade.
The weather was also different today; there was no sun, so I went without shades. I haven’t been using music for a long time, so I got a different annoying song/advert jingle into my head to accompany me.
The new route I had mapped for yesterday was done the other way round. The hills came first, and the last 5 miles were on the mostly flat. This would also make a difference.
The body is an amazing thing, and I might devote a book/poem/anthology to my legs, I am in awe of them so much. It’s not that they are the strongest/fastest/most beautiful legs in the world (they are not), but they always come through for me when I need it most. Through fractures and wonky spine sitting on nerves, dodgy knees and pulled Achilles, they are there for me, on my side, just at the right moment. I love my legs.
And so they got me through the second loaf of my half marathon sandwich. Doing the hills in the first 8 miles was a good idea, as the legs were fresher. But it also knackered them a bit more for later on. I totally agree with Maria’s comments about being excited. Just knowing with each step that I was closer to completing the pinnacle of our training sparked something in my body, which certainly did not come from my breakfast. Getting closer to that finishing line and the energy rose, I know not where from. But we’ll be counting on it in 10 days’ time.
So, mixing it up, changing routes, colours, packs, music, breakfast, drink and pants really helps. Changing west London for the Andes. That will help. Changing our flat for the great outdoors. That will help. Changing running solo and only chatting about it with Maria to having her there each step of the way. That will help. Changing lives with the money we raise. That will help.
Doing this, being different, will help. We will make a difference.
This morning I opened Reuters to find an article saying the US government has set an ambitious goal of finding a cure or treatment for Alzheimer’s disease by 2025. Although this isn’t going to mean more funds allotted to research, it’s a good sign that more importance is being put on a disease that is believed to effect 37 million people throughout the world.
Alzheimer’s is a disease that hits close to home as my grandma is currently battling it. She has her good days and bad days, but sadly she isn’t the woman she used to be. Having watched her and those around her suffer for the past several years, I am determined to help find a cure. It is with this purpose that I decided to raise funds for the Cure Alzheimer’s Fund.
They are a non-profit organization that designates 100% of the money raised to research. They are constantly discovering new genes that are involved in the progression of the disease. The hope is that with more research they will be able to pinpoint the cause of the disease in order to prevent millions at risk and treat those that are already diagnosed.
So with the goals of the Cure Alzheimer’s Fund, my grandmother on my mind and Cruce de los Andes as an excuse, I set up a fundraising page so everyone can help find a cure. Click on the logo below to learn more about my personal story and donate to this great cause.
Last week I wrote about questions which I have been asking myself prior to, during and after my runs. One of them has not been why? recently.
The Cruce de los Andes event which Maria and I are currently preparing for is being done yes, for our personal challenge and love of adventure, but also to raise money for causes close to our hearts.
My grandpa loved words. I loved my grandpa. He would read Shakespeare to me when as a child we stayed over their house at the weekends. At the time, laying in that big double bed by myself, it went over my head, but later, when I was a bit older and Shakespeare’s Animated Tales came out, I was absorbed by them. Fast forward to my love of Shakespeare and degree in English Literature and Language. Books, history, word games and songs: these are the legacies of my grandpa special to me.
I was 13 or 14 when my grandpa got prostate cancer. I didn’t really understand too much about it, and my grandpa was a stubborn, unfussy Englishman, too proud to go to the doctor when he should have. They operated. But unfortunately, cancer had decided to go on a holiday around other parts of his body. When it landed with a thud in his bones, time to talk about my GCSE English projects and do the Sunday Telegraph elimination game was limited. He died the summer before I turned 15.
I have chosen to do the challenge of Cruce de los Andes in his memory. I am raising money for the Pelican Cancer Foundation, a UK charity dedicated to helping those living with cancer live longer. It supports medical research and education to support those with prostate, bowel, bladder and liver cancers.
So, during my hilly weekend run (in the sun! at last!) as my blisters started to whine in my trainers at mile 8, I didn’t think about the joy that would come from sitting on the pavement and taking off my shoes. I thought about how far I had already come, how far I still had to go and all the support which was coming in to help those suffering with cancer; kind donations being sent because I can be on my feet for miles at a time, and I will have to be on my feet for even more miles at a time. Donations for a huge challenge, donations for a wonderful cause.
Blisters? What blisters?
To donate to the Pelican Cancer Foundation for my doing Cruce de los Andes (3 days, 106km, up and down volcanos and mountains, from Chile to Argentina) click on the logo below. Many thanks for every donation, big or small. It means a lot. As Shakespeare wrote: Lend me a heart replete with thankfulness!