This past month or so has been much like the middle part of an ultra. You feel awful - still for no apparent reason (after countless tests etc); you're exhausted despite only being a third of the way into the race, mentally you're at your weakest knowing you have such a long way to go and you still can't be sure you're going to reach the finish; you've run out of that initial adrenaline rush; everything hurts and you're sure you're picking up niggles and aches that shouldn't be there; the end is nowhere in sight and in all honesty you're ready to call it a day and jack the whole thing in.
I have been so very close to withdrawing from the Lakeland 100 over the past month - keystrokes on the computer away. I couldn't see any other option other than a DNS. My asthma is 'back'. This has been a bit of a shock to the system as I haven't been symptomatic for over 6 years and now I have to use an inhaler on a daily basis (to be reviewed). Continued lack of sleep, and continued bouts of illness have really taken their toll. It's hard to understand what's going on because there isn't this one big thing to illustrate or explain why I have felt the way I have. There have been days when I have felt so utterly exhausted and weak that I felt I could quite easily crumble into a pile of dust on the floor. Not a nice feeling I can assure you.
So has there been a magical turnaround? Has something changed to make me decide to keep going, to keep aiming for that intimidating start-line? Physically the answer is not really. I'm still lacking in endurance, speed and strength - training has been too sporadic to address any of these issues. But I'm trying to use April to build up towards a really solid May and June. I just hope my body can handle it. I've cut out a few foods - eg. chocolate and haribo - which can only be consumed on a long runs. In general my 'diet' is pretty good - lots of vegetables, fruit etc but little tweaks here and there may help. I've set myself a couple of strength challenges too for April. Just small challenges but steps in the right direction I hope. I am trying to be more consistent in my running but I have to continue to be flexible in this, and listen to my body.
Mentally I've had to give myself a real battering. The challenge ahead is properly scary. 105 miles through the Lake District with 20,700 feet of ascent! It makes your eyes water doesn't it? I've done similar distances in the past (many years ago) - two 24 hour track races (102 and 103 miles), but they're flat obviously, and I've done the West Highland Way - this broke me COMPLETELY, and it is 10 miles shorter and has almost 6,000 feet less climbing. How can I possibly get myself ready to face that start line?
I don't have the answer to that right now. But I know that I will get there. The mental and physical training I will have to put myself through between now and the end of July is daunting. It feels close to impossible right now if I am brutally honest. But I have to at least try. Last friday I attended I charity evening hosted by the Brathay Trust; it was a talk with Joss Naylor, Kenny Stuart and Billy Bland - true legends of fell-running. It was an incredibly inspiring and entertaining evening. I did have to sit on my hands during the charity auction though! Their wise words really struck a chord with me, and to quote the great Kenny Stuart I simply need to apply "a no nonsense attitude. Just get on and get it done."
March was my 10 year running anniversary. This is not the time to give up. It's the time to do something special. Traditionally you give gifts made from tin/aluminium for 10 years - a L100 medal would do just as nicely. The modern version of the 10 year anniversary gift is diamond jewellery - I'll leave that up to hubby *wink wink*. Hey, whatever it takes to get me back to Coniston right?