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........