The last month has been a case of getting the miles done.
I think so far this year I have run 580 miles which is well beyond my corresponding mileage of this time last year. It has been tough, both mentally dealing with the cold and the routine of training in some capacity every day of the week and also physically. The demands that such a regime places on the body and mind are not really something that is immediately obvious (at least in my case) however I have found that over the last 2 months I have had little time for little else than anything MDS related. The effects of these demands definitely came to a head for me the last weekend, I did my 2 back to back long days of 20 miles and 14 miles and by the end had had enough of running full stop! I think mentally I was tired of running in the cold and into headwinds, physically the niggles I had in my body seemed numerous and I was generally quite fed up. I also think that the lifestyle changes that I have made gradually over the last 6 months or so to the point that I no longer go out on a Sat night, am mindful of the next training session, no longer see much of my very understanding and awesome friends and the general tiredness of hard training weeks have meant that I just wanted time out from it all. Luckily it snowed here in Jersey on Monday just gone which mean that running was not really on the agenda, which further meant that I had 3 guilt free days without running. I attended a Bikram Yoga class towards the middle of the week and then decided to run again on the Thursday with full pack weight and for the first time in a few weeks felt really up for the run having taken time out.. Which kind of proves the whole “rest is best” theory and has given me a new lease of life mentally leading into the last big mileage weekend of my MDS regime. I now feel back on track after a little hiccup and ready for the next week or so of tough training before the taper..
I went to visit my GP for the obligatory ECG which we need to present upon the start of the race, along with a signed medical form to say you are fit to race. I had a ver low resting heart rate, perfect blood pressure, but the ECG did throw up some irregularities which meant I have been referred to a Cardiologist this coming week for a cursory check of my readings. I have read a little about this and it seems alot of the UK competitors are getting the same irregularities as it is a by product of endurance sports such as ultra running, so I hope to get the all clear in the next few days!!
So this weekend see a few of us running 27 miles on Saturday and then I will be doing another long one with a pack on Sunday.. After this I will then be switching my focus to more frequent runs with weight as well as interspersing these session with lots of Bikram yoga to hopefully acclimate to the heat.
With just under 3 weeks to go the massive list of equipment I have had to gather for this race has all but come together. I took the snow nights as an opportunity to sit down and weigh the stuff I will be taking and to put a handle on what is essential and what is a luxury to take with me. This was pretty eye opening and led to a few tough decisions, so it looks like a lot of compromises on photographic/video equipment, MP3 players, spare T shirts, sleeping pads and other items I had initially factored into taking.. The jury is still out on these choices, but I am currently erring on the ruthless side with minimalism winning the day. I imagine when faced with the reality of lasting in the desert for a week with only one t-shirt, one spare pair of pants and other delightful dilemmas some of these decisions might be revisited!
I was lucky enough to be featured in this months Gallery Magazine which is a local lifestyle magazine here in Jersey. I had a photography shoot with local photographer Danny Evans and I was really pleased with the results. It was slightly surreal and lots of attempts were taken to get the pic of me running towards the camera but Danny was great, really made me feel at ease in such an alien environment for me, and the article has really raised the profile of the fundraising I am doing for local charity Jersey Hospice Care.
I had set the initial target of £5000 for Hospice which I hit back in December. I then re-evaluated this and re set the target to £8000. I am currently on just over £7000 with a couple of event to go before I head off. Next week end should you be venturing past Marks and Spencers in St Helier you will encounter me running on a treadmill with my colleague Nicola Gott who is doing the London Marathon and also raising money for Jersey Hospice Care. We plan to run for 8 hours between us whilst also trying to collect funds in buckets, so please be sure to pop by and say hi!
As mentioned I am raising funds for Jersey Hospice Care and am running the Marathon des Sables in memory of Natalie Moss a friend of mine who sadly passed away just over a year ago and was in the care of Jersey Hospice during the last 6 weeks of her illness. They are amazing its as simple as that. If you can see your way to donating please hop over to www.justgiving.com/Paulsdesertrun
Many thanks – More to follow soon!