one two, one two.(reality check)
In a time when our social media feeds are overflowing with ever-growing positivity and well-meaning memes of well-being, perhaps in an attempt to combat the trolls and hate speech of the dark side of the online life, there is the danger of a skewed aspect of reality. Every story of triumph against adversity or perseverance to literally run that extra mile is heartwarmingly feel good and we must champion every underdog victory and applaud every effort made to change one’s life for a healthier, better, more positive one. Seeing the weekends’ posts of adventures big and small, medal winning and endurance victories and genuinely nice people back slapping their buddies surely is a good way forward to creating a friendlier online community. There is nothing wrong in that at all. However, without the background detail we are not seeing the whole story and for every win or moral victory there are thousands of failures, mishaps and those days where you just hit the wall and that is the end of your journey. Us humans are allowed to admit and say **** this, I'm not up for it today. It's slightly negative and understandably it may not be as good a read as the winning stories, but it's a leveller. It's real life. One two, one two, reality check.
The following words from brand ambassador Larry Day offer a sobering version of long distance running adventures and a story not many brands would understandably publicise. If we're into skewed views of everyday life here is the antidote to bring you back into line. Not all plans go to, well, plan.
Not entirely sure why, but the Big Lebowski film quote ”Sometimes you eat the bar, and sometimes the bar eats you" popped into my head when I called it a day at Contamine on the recent UTMB (Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc) race. I think I always knew this was a long shot, but equally there was always the chance it just might come off. Essentially my reasoning was flawed from the start. The entry went in because I had the points, and it was highly likely it would be my last chance, secretly I was hoping the decision would be taken out of my hands and I wouldn’t get through the ballot. After all who gets through 4 ballots for something like this, seems I do, so I had to do what I could to put myself in a position to complete. Life and work did their level best to hamper my efforts wherever possible, but half of the prep for this stuff is the ability to be bloody minded enough to carry on regardless no matter what the writing on the wall is shouting at you!
At the start line I was stoic, the last minute weather warnings had rattled me, as it was what made me drop on my last attempt 7 years ago, but I was there. I chose to go for a heavy waterproof thinking of the long game and being comfortable once I started to slow down, warnings suggested -10 above 2000m. I was happy enough through to the first checkpoint, reserving judgment, then into the first climb, and the drizzle began. It was that very wet rain, thick and cloying, and the temperature dropped steadily as we went upwards. Headtorch on, luckily I had invested in a slightly more powerful new one, as the cheaper one was next to useless. Then the descent into St Gervais, greasy, people on their arses left and right, I stay upright, but my thighs are starting to hurt already, this is not good, way to early for niggles. I realize this is not very enjoyable, I am cold and my coat weighs a ton. I am struggling to enjoy myself here. Push through 20 mins inside cutoff as I leave the checkpoint, that’s ok just do the next 10k see how it goes. It went badly. Endless slop, no views, no clear skies, I am asking myself why, not good. It is my wife’s birthday tomorrow, and I just want to spend it with her, the choice is no choice at all really. This is not on.
In the end a very easy call. I travelled back on the bus to Chamonix with some worse for wear English lads - they gave me a can of Heineken and sang to me, which was nice. My wife was supportive and understanding as she could be when I got back to the hotel. No curse banter today. I lay on the floor in the hall of our apartment whilst she removed my shoes then we drank cold French beer until 2:30am and it was a great birthday. Now I am done with the UTMB and its ok, really ok, I feel free to stop collecting points, and run the ones I want to now. It does help that I did complete the TDS in a good time in 2017, another third time lucky special. I have great memories of that, it went like clockwork.
Now time to reassess and think on new challenges.