Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Sources of Inspiration

I think we will keep the sea song fairly straightforward this week.  Seven Seas of Rye by Queen.  When it was released and I was little, the song and the band used to scare me.  They all seemed a bit high energy and in your face to me. Don't forget I was raised in Lincoln, so skiffle bands were seen as the devil's work.  Age and experience have taught me that the band and Freddie Mercury, in particular, were quiet, understated musicians who rarely went to a party.

I'm not quite finished with my training yet, but I am beginning to count the weekends left to me to put any meaningful distance work into my challenge.  This is how it now looks:

26th July - The Lakeland 50.  A really tough 50 mile run, mainly uphill as far as I remember, but it ends where it started, so that must be an illusion - right?

2nd - 9th August Option 1: Channel Relay crossing:  I am booked on to a Channel relay boat for Aspire, the charity at which I work.  This will give me some chance to reacquaint myself with the English Channel outside of Dover Harbour and admire the immensity of the task I have ahead of me.  If this is postponed until later in the week I can move to :

2nd August Option 2: a 70 mile Sportive in the Cotswolds on my bike (I will have to blow the dust off my posh, competition bike).

9th/10th  August: Swim Dover/ Run 20 miles

16th/17th August Swim Dover / Run 20 miles

23rd/24th August Swim Dover / Run 13 miles

August Bank Holiday Light exercise, the beginning of my taper. Take some holiday

During all these weeks I will swim up to 5k a day on 3 days each week, something I have been doing for some time now, and also cycle about 90 - 120 miles a week as part of my daily commute.

So that's it. The end is well and truly in sight and I have a plan mapped out.  So much of my training has been without a clear map.  It has been constructed to fit around life, and wherever possible I have stolen time to try a monster endurance opportunity to strengthen my psychology - good examples were the 100 miler and  other ultra runs and the 10, 7 and 6  hour sea swims. I am also hoping that the past four years of longer and longer challenges has put me in the right place to succeed in this.

The training is all good and I have been dutiful. I have taken it seriously.  People are on the whole encouraging about the task.  Some people think it inspiring, some obsessive, some impressive and on Sunday the most honest comment I heard was that it's selfish.  It certainly is all of those things and selfish is as accurate as anything.  I take that on board.  I do this for charity ( https://www.justgiving.com/PaulParrishArch2Arc/ if you're interested) but I do it for myself.  I do it to take myself away from where I once was, and I do it to give myself pride and self esteem and I do it because I am privileged and can do.  It's been a long road and I want to prove that you can think yourself washed up, but with the right mindset you can change and move on a different plane.

I have been chatting to an old friend from many years ago, and she sent me this quote from an ultra runner David Blaikie.  It is an erudite synopsis of why this stuff works for some of us.

"Perhaps the genius of ultra running is it's supreme lack of utility. It makes no sense in the world of spaceships and supercomputers to run vast distances on foot. There is no money in it and no fame, frequently not even the approval of peers. But as poets, apostles and philosophers have insisted since the dawn of time, there is more to life than logic and common sense. The ultra runner knows this instinctively. And they know something that is lost on the sedentary. They understand, perhaps better than anyone, that the doors to the spirit will swing open with physical effort. In running such long and taxing distances they answer a call from the deepest realms of their being ~ a call that asks who they are……."

And on that note I will go to Jane's funeral........

Monday, 7 July 2014

Remembering Jane

Forgive me for some self indulgence, but it's my blog, so bear with.  The song I have chosen this week was going to be the final song I was going to choose before signing off for the Arch to Arc.  But sometimes a song is just right for the time and at the moment this song reverberates with me in many different ways. I like the lyrical sentiment. If you have some big life stuff ahead of you then this could be the song for you.  Give it a go... "Swim" by Jack's Mannequin.

I was looking at my friend Jane's Facebook page last week.   I wanted to look back - probably in the vain hope that I could glean some meaning from it. On her timeline I found the following quote, which she attributed to Hugh Laurie:

“It's a terrible thing, I think, in life to wait until you're ready. I have this feeling now that actually no one is ever ready to do anything. There's almost no such thing as ready. There's only now. And you may as well do it now. I mean, I say that confidently as if I'm about to go bungee jumping or something - I'm not. I'm not a crazed risk taker. But I do think that, generally speaking, now is as good a time as any.”

I really like this. I have been getting stressed wondering how can I ever be ready for the Arch to Arc?  It is too much and too far.  When I look back there hasn't been a single endurance event that I have ever undertaken that I have felt ready for. The weeks before each event I becoming increasingly stressed as I realise that I can't be sure I will go the distance.  With a full time job and a family and a keen interest in procrastination there is never a chance that I can have fully prepared for these big events.  I think the thing I have learnt to do is get to the start line.  If I get that far and start to run/walk/cycle/swim/skip then there is a chance that I will finish.  I don't always succeed, (see previous post "Failure"), but more often than not I seem to muddle through. So Hugh Laurie is right; "You may as well do it now...."

I am going to remember that, Janey.  I have put so much into this Arch To Arc. I am as ready as I can ever be.  Sure, I haven't done much cycling this year, but if I get to Calais, I'll make a good stab at the 180 mile cycle.  I have run 100 miles in one go, as well as a number of 30, 40 and 50 milers.  I have swum upwards of 12 hours a week for a year and have managed a 10 hour swim, several sixes and I have some seven hour swims to come. I can't do any more.  Eddie Ette, coaching me, has told me to rein it back in now.  No need to leave my best swimming in Dover Harbour.  So, yes,  I am not ready, but as ready as I can be, and I will be able to set off on the Arch to Arc knowing I have given it my all.  Thank you Jane for that Facebook post.

Jane died last week aged 50.  She leaves two young children. 5 weeks ago she decided to take the top off a bottle and drink again. There can be no greater tragedy than seeing someone claw their way back to life, only to watch the power of their addiction drag them back down. I am sorry to use her death as a reason to blog. I don't want to be crass. But you should know how powerful and incomprehensible this stuff is.  You should know that in recovery we can walk a very fine line.