Welcome to a weekly feature on my blog – Ben’s Zone. Written by husband… Ben. A foodie, coffee obsessed, ex-smoking, ex-drinking and Ridgeback loving Dad. Who is also seriously into his fitness. You can find him on the blog (most) Sundays. Enjoy 🙂
1000 Mile Challenge – The Final Straight
I’m pretty stoked right now. The thousand mile challenge I’m doing with the mighty RAW obstacle race team has an end in sight. I was on a business trip last week in the USA and resorting to a treadmill to get my daily miles in (cardio is also great for jet lag) when I saw the miles tick over and realised I was into the last 250 miles and just under a month ahead of schedule.
When starting this whole thing I was straight up scared. I’d worked out that this meant I had to run just over 80 miles a month and that seemed like a really big number. I had visions of myself dragging the dog around the woods half dead by June. The reality was somewhat different. I never really found a rhythm in the first 250 miles as the days started to get noticeably longer. One of the toughest things, other than upping my distance and not taking rest days, was the darkness. Both Florence and I detest the dark and so the gradual progression to a grainy dawn helped immensely. At the same time, I realised that it was in my interests to make the most of the light. So just when I was getting used to it all, I upped the distance.
The summer was amazing, frankly. I got used to the distance much sooner than I thought and so did Florence. 10k in a morning now seems quite normal (whatever normal is). I’ve seen some pretty cool things along the way, one morning I approached a tree line and the mist hung in a perfect line 3 metres from the ground. Nothing compares to the golden sun slashing through the treeline in the forest and I’ve made some friends along the way too.
I haven’t and will never get used to getting up at 5am to run. I know there are people who get up far earlier and so I won’t moan, but I won’t say I like it either. Most days I’m happy to be out there by the time I’m half way through the first mile.
Running a little longer has also meant I could make some more sensible choices as well. I have miles in the bank so I take rest days before and after races (only one mind you) and I don’t run with a chest cold due to some sage advice from my team mate Becky. Initially, I used to feel guilty about not taking Florence out if I had a day off and now I realise she’s as glad of the rest as I am.
I entered the last 250 miles buoyant, feeling good after keeping my routine while in the US (and eating pies of course) and ready to run. Then my alarm went off and it was dark, the horror, the horror.
I can’t imagine it looked pretty, me stumbling around the forest with a head torch looking like someone thrown off The Walking Dead for lack of coordination, but I did it and the times weren’t even that bad. If I had the choice, it’s not when I would choose to run but the fact that I work business hours means I have to. But, later that afternoon when the jet lag should have been battering me I felt awake, so it definitely helps.
So I’ve been scared, I’ve felt hopeful and blessed and now I’m, well, ambivalent. I’d said that I would cut down the running somewhat when I finish the 1000 miles but I’m not sure I will. Running is such a part of life now I don’t know how I’d feel not doing it. I have promised myself a pair of the delectable Hoka Speedgoat 2 (running shoes) when I finish and it seems like a waste to do anything other than run the tread off ’em.
I realise what’s happened now, I’ve turned Forrest Gump. Oh well, there are worse things that could happen.