During tomorrow’s marathon I shall pass the 1,000 mile marker in the #runforsharks challenge. I had hoped to do the first 1,000 miles in 40 days, but tomorrow will be the 45th day. I'm 5 days late because I lacked concentration after 3 weeks and was injured as a result, so had to be content with lesser daily distances for almost 2 weeks in the middle of the challenge. It was hard to take, this failure, as I was sure I could complete what I’d started out to do, but I have to be happy with reaching 1,000 miles, and failure has been pretty good for my self development I think.
The injury happened because on the night after my 20th marathon, I decided I was too tired to stretch. I knew it was a wrong thing to do, all runners need to stretch, but perhaps I was getting over confident after those first 3 weeks of success. So I didn’t stretch and a day later I felt a problem develop in my right ankle and lower leg. This started to hurt to the extent I thought I’d got a stress fracture, and what followed was a dark couple of days when my ego had to come to terms with the fact that I hadn’t done what I’d set out to do.
I found it hard to take because at this moment in time, my word means a lot to me. I feel the need to be honest and trusted. I also need to be useful. So failing in my quest to run 50 marathons in 50 days meant I’d broken my word and potentially wasn’t going to be as useful to the sharks as I could have been.
For almost 2 weeks I was in quite a downward spiral. Because I couldn’t run I was taking more time to cover less distance, time I didn't really have, and I also knew that people were concerned about me and that I was causing them worry by continuing the challenge. I spent much time thinking about why I was carrying on, and it was because of this I discovered the simple fact that I already mentioned, that I need to be useful. Useful to my loved ones, my local community and my society at large. That helped me renew my focus, and my efforts, to make each run produce some thought or photo that would help people reading my social media understand more about the need to help sharks.
It also urged me onto committing to learning new things in 2019. Basic things, such as baking excellent bread, and learning more about cooking. I’m way less interested these days in learning skills to earn me money, and far more interested in learning skills that might make me a useful member of my family and local community.
As soon as I felt able, after 12 days I think, I started to run again a few miles here and there, and got a sports massage at the Octopus Garden Yoga Centre to free up my leg muscles. This, together with a commitment to stretching, has helped me run another 9 marathons and 1 half marathon, with 4 more full marathons on the horizon this week, then a couple of lesser distances in the final 2 days of the challenge.
I’m pleased with food intake, I’ve only lost between 2 and 5lbs during the whole of the challenge, which says I’ve got the calories right. I have been eating intentionally with recovering from runs a 1st priority, and then after that I’ve been eating to get ready for the next run. So this meant plenty of whole foods, with a focus on anti inflammatory ingredients and good calories.
So many times I wanted to have a few drinks to relax but mostly I’ve resisted, except when the legs ached so much I felt a few drinks might help me sleep.
I didn’t know where this challenge might take me, you can push the boat in the right direction but the wind will take it where it will. I’m happy I failed, it’s done me good, this new direction feels right. I haven’t thought about pain for ages, now it’s just sensation. Until recently I just wanted to stay in bed so much, the challenge seemed too great to face, but then I went through a phase of the challenge being all that got me up and out of bed, and now I feel pretty neutral.
I was running along the beach today as the sun rose, thinking how grateful I am that at the moment I don't feel the need to try to be grateful. It seemed that if you try to impose yourself on life in any way then there’s a good chance you’ll miss the good stuff. I can’t exactly explain what I feel when I run these days but I’ll try by saying it’s a sort of stumbling, exhausted ecstasy where the colours, smells and feelings are a bit nearer me than they were a couple of weeks ago. And whereas a few weeks ago I often felt like life was so beautiful I might cry at any moment as an outlet for the intensity of emotion, now the waves are all inside, or maybe I am more a part of everything else. Same thing, I guess, it’s more a part of me because I’m more a part of it.
It’s been a trip. 6 days to go. If you'd like to support sharks in your own way, check out www.sharkwater.com for ideas.