Brathay 10in10 – Chapter 11 – Steal the Apples of the Hesperides

Well, it’s over, done, all ten complete.  Having stayed for the celebration meal, many hugs and many a thank you, the children and I have dashed back to home to resume regular, daily, weekly ‘life’.  Nothing like children to help keep you grounded.

As I begin to write it is currently half past midnight.  I’m tired, the drive back home was difficult as I just wanted to fall asleep, but now we’re here and the children are all tucked up in bed, I want to fulfil the promise of completing a diary entry per day during the Brathay 10in10.

George Sherriffs and I set off at a little after 7:15am this morning.  George had unfortunately torn a muscle in his quad only for or five miles in to his run on Day 9 so was in considerable discomfort and pain.  Both of us thought if we set off early we would be back in time for the Presentation Ceremony with our fellow athletes at around 3:30.  Unfortunately, the sacrifice was missing the gladiatorial parade and team huddle compèred by the inimitable Rich Rex at 8:45am.  Twas therefore an early start 6am, up at 5:30 and a disturbed night’s sleep prior, it was after all the ultimate day and jitters are allowed.  On waking my ‘landing gear’ was still not working so the slow walk down to receive physio seemed to take a painfully long time and I’d skipped my usual bowl of pre-marathon Sugar Puffs to boot.

Still, seeing the rather ‘happy 6am face of post-kayli‘ (sarcasm applied) Aimee and at least I was ready to face the day with a smile.  This young woman has for the last ten days put up with me morning and evening, the tantrums, the yells, the old jokes (some of which she didn’t know), the tunes (at least I’ve helped to improve her musical repertoire and expect her downloads to reflect her new learnings, especially the purple one and The Waterboys).  It might sound sentimental and perhaps another physio may well have looked after me as well as Aimee, but the way I feel at this moment and when I was on her plinth yesterday evening and this morning, I sincerely doubt it.  She has tweaked my achilles back to flexibility, compressed my calves, and generally massaged my muscles (including performing DTFM) giving every chance of fulfilling my goal.  I hope we’ve become friends?  The way I feel about this young woman; she deserves success, she deserves to be happy and if there is anyway I can repay her patience (even though I have very little money) she need only ask, I hope she trusts me to be there for her as she has been there for me?  Whether she understands or not, I simply could not have done it without her, we did this, together.  Her reward, experience; my debt at this moment incalculable.  By the way quick shout out to Dr Katie Small, I think I’ve worked out an analogy for the hamstrings; Aimee wasn’t far out, it just didn’t sit well with me, but what about trebuchet?

Sensible head on this morning; Adam taped me up, I swallowed my two ibuprofen and hobbled down to the start.  George galloped off and for about two to three hours (who knows because time is irrelevant out there) I was officially second (out of two starters).

It is about time I mentioned the pair of Dave(y) Green (apples), who have both been gentlemen all week, one slightly more reserved than the other, you know who you are Davey Green, but gentlemen nonetheless.  Dave Green has been very kind to me, and whilst our conversations have been brief, he has never felt the need to pass on unwanted advice, he’s remained considered, impartial, reverent.

One of the last comments I made on facebook was that it was time to ‘man up’ in less eloquent terms, ‘grow a pair’.  I didn’t grow a ‘pear’ today but my hard work, and the selfless encouraging nourishment through the support we’ve received at Brathay; from the Support Team, our fellow athletes, the physios and the hard work from everyone has yielded the physical harvest (if you wish the Apples of Hesperides) I desired (medals, my name on the list of 10in10 finishers and an official hoodie, at some stage).  What was unexpected was the emotional rewards; at the start line was my Mum, I’d never expected her to be there and it took two glances to realise.  I’m still incredulous at the support I’ve received and can’t quite understand why others think I deserve it.  Maybe this exercise will help me to realise that whilst I cannot change the past I can have a say in the future.  I appreciate this is a lot of waffle but these thoughts are fresh and I want to capture them whilst they can still be frozen, like Bird’s Eye peas.  I knew my sister was due to be at the finish line with my children, but I didn’t expect Kim or Debs.  Why they had travelled hundreds of miles to see me put one foot in front of the other I’ll never know?  But even if I never know I’ll always be grateful, I must be worth something to have such good friends and family.  In a way I feel guilty for not always being there for Emma but I am proud to share today with her, she deserves some acknowledgement and recognition for putting up with her daft older brother!

What was amazing at the finish was the hugs, the crowd, and even tears from Aimee (gotcha!), bang went her street cred credentials.  I forgot to mention yesterday, Day 9 we ran in together to our own sound track of Oasis

Today is gonna be the day
That they’re gonna throw it back to youCushendall
By now you should’ve somehow
Realized what you gotta do
I don’t believe that anybody
Feels the way I do, about you now
Because Aimee, you’re gonna be the one that saves me
And after all, we’re from Cushendall
Today was slow and once again painful, but once the legs got moving and I accepted the discomfort I shuffled from mile 2 right through to 26.2 (I may have walked Devil’s Gallop, but only to protect Dad’s Army and my worryingly dodgy left Trebuchet).
At just after mile twenty coming down the hill into Bowness (after being passed by the amazingly poised and powerful Paul Brown – mile 15, the relentless and efficient Jonathan Carter – mile 16, metronomic Malc – mile 17 and the resolute Sean – mile 18) I felt a pop in my lower left leg (maybe it was nothing but it bloody hurt for a moment).  Two hundred yards later one of my heroes, Rich Rex passed me, gave me a hug and said something along the lines of ‘amazing effort’.  I mentioned that I thought something had gone in my leg, his reply, in his true Northern Grit style ‘aye probably, but let’s get it done’.  Left to my own devices there was nothing more for it than to keep shuffling.  The real marathon lead car passed me at mile 21 and the first runner loped past me towards the foot of Ice-cream Mountain.  How did he make it look so effortless?  Barely two miles later and the Silent Assassin eased by, how she does it (as well) I’ll never know (unless she gets a sneaky lift)?  Anyhow, no other female runners went by me until almost mile 25 at which point I was hoping that Liane, might even get first female.  It clearly wasn’t to be and her time wasn’t even as fast as the previous day; all I can say is that there is a lot to be said for microwaved scrambled eggs!
Before mile 20 it felt like my top was catching, at the top of Ice-cream Mountain I was sure it had been and asked Mac Knowles if he had any vaseline (unfortunately not), so for the next 4.5 miles I ran with my left hand clutching my Brathay 10in10 shirt away from my chest.  People watching me perhaps thought ‘look at him, he’s giving everything for Brathay and even holding the badge to indicate his desire for the charity’?  At least I hope they thought that?  The truth of the matter is that I was ill-prepared this morning, forgot plasters and vaseline and ended up with blood all over my left breast, now off to nurse sore nipples!  At least it took my mind off my shins for a while.
Can’t explain how I feel now, I’ve not watched TV for ten days, barely read, all that I’ve done is eaten, slept, been pummelled and pulled in physio and for 262 miles put one foot in front of the other.  There is a story in there somewhere, a meaning for all of this, after all I asked for it, and I’m sure I’ve found out more about myself for struggling through for several days and never giving in (despite wanting to yesterday).  Will it serve as a lesson to me, to others, who knows?  Aly said it would change my life.  Katie and Adam said to make the most of what I’d achieved.  At this point in time (it is now 2:38am), I wish I was back at Brathay amongst it all still, may be for me it is a once in a lifetime event, may be it is the beginning of something new, all I know is that even though I’ve got the ‘apples’, I simply cannot let the pips go to waste.
One more blog to come and then perhaps I’ll sign off for a while…

Brathay 10in10 – Chapter 10 – Slay the Nine-headed Lernaean Hydra

This morning, on the penultimate game of Marathon Deal or No Deal, ‘Noel’ offered me a glance inside the last box, very generous of him I thought.  An exceptionally generous offer.


I’d like to take a flash back 48 hours, cue subtitles, location and audio commentary.  Thursday, I completed a marathon with shin splints in a little over 5½ hours.  How I thought I needed to do this was to take four ibuprofen before I started running, another four around 2½ hours later and then the last four at the top of Ice-cream Mountain.  That amount of self-medication is absolutely crazy, I know it, but I felt like I needed it to get round with the least amount of discomfort possible.  So, Thursday evening when I was asked how I was getting round and getting quicker I explained.  That’s me.  Heart on my sleeve, I clearly have no emotional filter and say too much.  If you don’t like it, then you don’t have to associate with me.  Your choice.  The one thing I know about myself now is that I will not lie, not even a white one (except of course if the Tooth Fairy or Santa is involved, which of course if Santa is involved, isn’t lying anyway).  Advice delivered and received, don’t take that much medication, mix ibuprofen with paracetamol, be sensible.  So I listened but equally didn’t and made the conscious choice to take a combination of ibuprofen and paracetamol.  So on Friday’s run, I struggled, the swelling and pain didn’t dissipate.

Following the run, there was concern about my health and well-being.  Everyone has been fantastic, and very professional.  All that was asked of me was to medicate within accepted healthy guidelines.  My reaction; stroppy teenager.  Instead of accepting that people were concerned I behaved in true drama queen style; did my bottles (some bottles minus electrolytes – funnily enough essential today – Saturday – due to the heat), missed food and decided that instead of taking some medication to try to get round, I would attempt a marathon, with shin splints but without any form of pain relief.  Why cannot I just accept help and be ‘normal’?  In my state of mind last night I felt as though I was asking myself to climb Everest but the Sherpas had taken away my crampons and ropes.

Luckily, even though I’m a child, we are supported by adults here, people who know what they are doing and talking about.  Eventually they gave me the impetus to get me to the start line.  They believed in me when I had lost all faith.

Back to Noel’s Box.  As of this morning we had 24 refreshment stations to run (we’ve already run through 216 of them, and about 100 of those I’ve done with shin splints).  Inside the last Box (this is a metaphor by the way) was the phrase ‘give up, you’ve achieved more than you thought, the pain will go away and you can still be satisfied with what you’ve already done’.  I was ready to accept it, for the pain to be over, the emotional rollercoaster to cease.  It’s easy to give up, much harder to never give in.  But in this game of Marathon Deal or No Deal, we have supporters, the very same people who I thought were making it extra difficult for me to achieve my dreams 14 hours previous were the very same people that were telling me I was capable of completing not just one marathon but two more days of marathons.  Aly, Katie, Adam and Aimee, I will never be able to thank you enough but by helping to realise that some things are worth going through a little pain for you helped me believe in myself.  It took me another 3 boxes and a little over six miles for me to appreciate and understand that it is possible, and as each drink station box appeared I declined the Bankers Offer.  We now only have 12 boxes to go tomorrow.  There is no glittering prize, there will not even be a new found belief in myself (although this last ten, eleven days has taught me so much more about me that I ever thought possible), but if anything what this has taught me is that if something is worthwhile struggling for you have to do it, one step at a time and one foot in front of the other.

I promised myself that I would not or at least try not to include any clichés whilst writing tonight’s entry so I’ll try to describe a few other things on the run instead.  Getting through the first 2 miles was excruciating, it was no easier getting to 4.5 miles either.  Obviously with it being a Saturday none of the school children at Hawkshead were there to cheer us on, which always pulls at the heart strings, instead there was a placard with the children’s palm prints and each and every 10in10ers name emblazoned boldly.  After eight days of running, your emotions can be stirred by the most random acts of kindness and although it bought a tear to my eye it did nothing to alleviate the pixies and their clubs hammering away at my shins.

From Hawkshead to Newby Bridge is my favourite part of the course, Esthwaite Water is beautiful, the forest, the hills, the peace, the road ahead, even Devil’s Gallop but still I couldn’t shuffle forward with the same impetus I’d had in previous days.  The Principality of Pain I was in had decided to annexe the Sovereign State of Suffering and had blitzkrieged the Territory of Torture.  How I felt sorry for myself.  At box three Paul, Trudi and Aly were there again, telling me how well I was doing.  It didn’t feel like it.  You equally need to appreciate that a week ago my marathon times were a tad over four hours, and I was over the moon with that.  Clearly someone was telling porkies because once upon a time I’d said I’d be happy just to finish ten marathons, perhaps that wasn’t entirely correct and as ever I expected more from myself.  How selfish!  As Mark had said earlier in the week ‘we’ were the lucky, there were absent friends who would never get to achieve what we were trying and succeeding doing.  Just 48 hours previous I’d mentioned to myself that if Jane Tomlinson could run marathons, complete triathlons and Iron-man, I was damned sure I could find something to get me through this.  That talking to had worked once before, but not on Day 7 and not today.  What worked today was actions not words.  Aly said she would be there for me and she was.  Who was I going to let down?  No-one, not Aly, not Aimee, not Adam, not Chris, not Katie, not my children and not me, not ever again.  It’s taken me thirty years to appreciate that whilst I’m not perfect and I have my faults, so does every bugger else, I just have to do the best that I can, whenever I can.

As I write this I think of all the people I’ve previously let down and all the lies I’ve told and whilst it satisfied the child in me it did nothing to help me to grow.  Just like the hydra’s heads, as one betrayal occurred another two sprang to take it’s place.  The last two years I’ve tried to take responsibility for that, sometimes I get it wrong still, sometimes I throw a teenager tantrum, but if I can only put things in perspective and take a moment maybe those steps forward will take me further along that journey towards being a proud person, proud of me.

It is now late in the evening, my shins are still swollen, the ice melting quickly and not reducing any swelling but sharing a room with Mark (someone has overcome real adversity and won) and thinking about how each and every day we’ve got up, got prepared, received physio and gone out to slay a Marathon Monster, we surely, each and everyone of us face tomorrow with a huge sense of excitement.  For me, I hope a new found belief, tomorrow when I believe and expect to finish it (the end of 262 miles) might allow me to exorcise a demon or two, but if it doesn’t we’ve had some fun, some tears, some laughs and found some new friends, each one a warrior of sorts in their own right.

In the words of Stevie G, tomorrow ‘We go again!’  I hope we get to bring silverware back this time though…


Brathay 10in10 – Chapter 9 – Obtain the Cattle of the Monster Geryon

So we are sat in the ‘Athletes’ Room’ this morning and Janet and John (no, this is not a Terry Wogan radio fable) are sat next to one another looking very sage.  It was almost as if they sit there knowing something.  I’ve always admired managers, directors, owners of businesses, confident people in general, they emit this ‘I know something you don’t vibe’, well that’s how I feel and think any way.  In fact the four elder states-people of this little Fellowship (Janet, John, Diane and George) have quietly and confidently been getting the job done, day in day out.  Why would I think they know something?  Perhaps because they do.  They know what it takes to complete a marathon and they go about it each and every day with a quiet, confident, methodical manner.  No screaming in the treatment room like yours truly, no dramatics, like yours truly, they are simply accomplished.  They still join in with all of the fun and antics with a dry witty line here and there but to me they ooze confidence and it is about time they were acknowledged for their professionalism and conduct.  Still, it takes all sorts and everyone fits one way or another.

Adrian achieved his 100th marathon today which was fantastic.  Aimee and I decided on day 4 that we were going to recreate the dress of 118-118.  Why?  Just for a giggle.  Except in my twisted way I decided to make it more complicated than it actually was.  In explanations to my compadres, I’d suggested that today was Day 8, it was May 18th and 1+1+8=10 and 1+1+8=10, both 10s multiplied together equalled Adrian’s 100, a homage to him.  Apologies for boring everyone with the convoluted story.  We are two marathons away now from achieving the 10in10, a little light-hearted relief was perhaps needed?  The giggles really flowed when we found out that Aimee can’t pronounce ‘Poirot’.

The shin splint treatment has now officially been abandoned, the daily agony of trying to release the inflamed muscles over my shins with two to go, not required.  Screaming in agony today and even the extra jokes to stimulate laughter and endorphins did not help, perhaps the jokes need improvement?  What do you call a bird without any eyes?  BRD!  Oh well, can’t say we didn’t try.

On the plinth next to me this morning was Linda, who is fast becoming a legend.  She hardly winces (to me it looks like she doesn’t) when she is clearly in some discomfort and pain, either out on the course or when receiving physio.  Her comment the other day was something akin (you have to do a slightly Geordie accent here to get the full effect) to ‘it’s just a little ache in me leg, man’.  Her legs are taped, ankle to hip and she’s still banging out marathons and never giving up.  To me she’s like the Black Knight from Monty Python, ‘ tis but a flesh wound’.  Amazing.  She is not the only one, all of us are steadily falling apart and yet the determination is more resolute, whatever we are built on seems unshakeable.  Twenty out and twenty in, eight times, that’s 160 marathons complete or 4,192 miles, now try to be unimpressed?


Today was a bitter-sweet day; the first two ‘boxes’ incredibly painful, until the pain in my shin dissipated, or I got used to it, or the pain relief kicked in, or the muscle warmed up, or a combination of the four.  The relief was relatively temporary when at Box 10, the little pixies who were using mini walnut hammers evolved.  Charles Darwin has a lot to answer for.  The pixies have now got so clever and have honed their tool making skills so much that they have now made little clubs and are trying to use my shins as some sort of xylophone.  Accompany that with their attempts to play strings on my achilles and hamstrings and you might get some idea of how dramatic I’m making this.


Forgot to mention, yesterday a ‘tourist’ (I think) stopped me at Newby Bridge to ask me, how far is it?  ‘26.2 miles,’ I replied.  Oh, so it’s a real marathon!  I ask you?

How are you feeling?  There’s a little pain in my hip, tiredness in my legs and my shoulder aches.  That’s okay says Aimee we’ll sort you out.  So another session trying to put me back together.  Roll over and let me sort your shoulder out.  Face down on the plinth with my head through the face hole and she sets to work.  I tried to write the word ‘HELP’ on the floor below in dribble, but none came.

Massage Plinth Face Hole

Why am I putting myself through this process day in and day out?  Why do I want to be part of this so much?  Why?  Because I want to achieve something, I want to be part of the ‘family’ the Marathon Mafia (this is meant to be a joke, so please accept it for what it is), just two more days and hopefully I’ll have earned my stripes?

Don Corleone

Brathay 10in10 – Chapter 8 – Clean the Augean Stables in a Single Day

My sister just sent me a text, ‘Day 7 on the Big Brother Marathon!  One foot in front of the other and so on!’  Putting one foot in front of the other is becoming incrementally more difficult as the days progress.  Today, was the lowest point for me so far.  Between Box 5 and Box 9, my shins have never hurt so much, my eyes welled up so often and the frustration, anger and (looking back on a positive) grit never been more apparent.  If anyone had taken any form of picture during that eight miles it would have been acutely apparent how I felt, no translation necessary.

As anyone who knows me, I don’t do pain well.  If you think I’m negative this evening or down or disappointed, I’m not, I’ve just had to dig the deepest to achieve something that for the longest period since I’ve been here I thought I couldn’t or wouldn’t.  Let’s consider it a low tide, but with every wane or wax of the moon, the tide ebbs and flows.  Tomorrow is another day.  Back to the topic in hand.  I don’t do pain well.  The strange thing about pain is that it bleeding hurts.  To inflect pain on self, regardless of the reason, may be attention seeking, a cry for help, or determination to exorcise demons.  Clean house.  This seventh marathon helped me tidy a few things away, just it hurt.  And on return a little chat with Adam Smith about my self medication.  My favourite sweeties now seem to be sugar coated Ibu made by Profen.  I’m taking what I need to get the job done.  Aimee and I got up to deliver and receive physio at 6:30.  Preparation is all important now.  The days are getting longer, but at least the sun is shining.  After active recovery (Sheldon’s Spot was taken) we had to settle for a plinth by the window with the ‘elite’ runners (Jonathan Carter and Liane Warren).  Sean Warburton‘s fish finger recovery sandwiches are going down a treat by the way, tip for any recovery athletes, this is top fodder.

It seemed like there was some sort of tag-team challenge going on, each part of my leg was being worked on by Dr Katie, Adam or Aimee.  At one point I was yelping, screaming, snorting and even tried to laugh to see if that would help.  It didn’t (well a little) but physio today was a necessary evil.  It hurt, and I was howling (sorry fellow 10in10ers) so much, that Dr Katie asked me who (as in who was hurting me most), I replied both of you; her reply ‘there’s three of us’.

So today was about doing the necessary.  Another marathon done.  Doing the essential, last night I limped back to Shackleton Lodge, where we all stay, and before doing my bottles noticed all of the crap that day in day out the Support Crew (Sandra Wade, Jim Meta, Aly, Paul and Trudy Dewar) clear away for us and no doubt the Chefs, Housekeepers and all of the other back of house staff who we barely see but ensure that everything is put away for us, prepared on time for us, all so that we can make old fart fools of ourselves as we attempt to run another marathon around a bloody big pond.

This morning there was a couple of announcements (everything happens for a reason), Mark Haynes reminded us we were the lucky ones, that some people were no longer with us and didn’t have the opportunity we have.  He had two hand-made signs from his daughters which stir the soul (I’d read them when he’d unpacked and left them on his bed day 1) and shared them with our Fellowship.  I couldn’t read them, couldn’t look up even, it would have been too much.  Too hard, too emotional and too early in the day.  I remembered what Mark said as I passed the chalked Miles for Matt sign on the pavement at White Cross Bay, it was all I needed to get me round.  Another phrase that was used this morning to help us appreciate how lucky we actually are was, ‘look left’; Windermere sits on our left shoulder from Newby Bridge back home, even on a crap day, you’d have to be cold to not appreciate the emotive natural beauty of all around us, add that to the people who are putting themselves to Hell (Newby Bridge) and back daily and you have to hand it to us, we have right cause to be proud of ourselves.

There were some bobble heads in a window at Bowness, it was like I felt today, wobbly! But another 15 minutes off my time from yesterday and another Radio interview this evening.  Perhaps that’s why I was frustrated because I wanted to Copy and Paste my mood from yesterday, unfortunately you cannot take anything for granted as each day is different on the Brathay Bounce.  Today, computer said, ‘NO!’  I can’t wait to CTRL-ALT-DELETE after Sunday and reboot, ready to re-apply for next year and do myself some more justice…

Today was a ‘Flake’ day for Adrian Brooks, his 99th marathon, tomorrow he joins the 100 Club.

So I’d like to say a huge thank you to all of the Support Team who keep us going and clean our crap away, I’m sure it must be like cleaning the Augean Stables daily, so thank you.

Day 8 tomorrow, the journey continues… or a story of ‘there and back’ again…

Brathay 10in10 – Chapter 7 – Capture the Erymanthian Boar

Board – Bored – Boar-ed!


Mr Pig!

I’m not, I’ve never had so much fun (that isn’t meant to be sarcastic), my muscles are stiff, as stiff as old floor boards.  The monotony of running a marathon isn’t there, for some who run marathons you ask how can you do it?  Is it not boring?  You cannot, in fact I challenge you to get bored by this course; the changing colours, the landscape, the daily trials and tribulations and above all the people who make this happen.  The people always make the place and in this instance they make the event too.  You have every support you need or want.

After seven days together, even though we don’t spend all day in and out of each other’s pockets, there is camaraderie here, a bond that ties us all together, a common desire and goal.  It’s like a little Fellowship.  I’m like one of the little hobbits running to keep up with the real heroes of the story.  Just like every one of the hobbits, in the Lord of the Rings, they all had a part to play.  Perhaps we are the Fellowship of the Laps?

Mile 0 to Box 1 (mile 2-ish) was painful, agonisingly slow, my shins were not listening to what my brain was saying, which was something along the lines of ‘Just run you short arsed little grunt’, my shins replied in a less complimentary manner.  It was going to be a very long day at the office.  What scares me is feeling like I’m a) letting myself down, b) letting my sponsors down, c) letting everyone here down and d) letting my children down.  So far I haven’t and I’ve achieved a lot more than I give myself credit for.  Once the legs got going – easy away – the miles passed, each box was eaten up a little by little.  Turning home after Newby Bridge, the road became easier even if it is the loneliest part of the course.  Running after the old wizards, determined dwarves, elegant elves and hardy fleet-footed men is good fun, wondering if I can recreate the times of the early part of the week, but most importantly still being part of the adventure.

I was very grateful for the support of Chris Heaton who followed me for a few box stops early on.  It put the fear of ‘being pulled’, which is my new ‘big-mouth’ (Duncan unfiltered phrase), in me and gave the inadvertent jolt to get my piggy poo-poo together.  It worked.  Thank you.

Gluttonous at several of the Drink Box stops today, enjoying delicious, little Scottish chocolate covered delicacy twice.  In fact,  it was even more satisfying to pop a whole Tunnocks Tea Cake in my greedy little gob at Box 11 (Ice Cream Mountain) especially when fed by ‘Steph McGovern‘.

Of course it’s not Steph, it is actually Trudi Dewar another of the support crew who completed the 10in10 as part of the Class of 2017.

The last four miles there was traffic queuing to get into Ambleside, I had a chat with a couple of the ‘white van men’ as I plodded by them, even  a little banter, joking that if I beat them to the traffic lights they had to sponsor me, let’s see what happens?

So what started off as frankly an excruciating exercise, finished with a flourish to the line, thirty minutes quicker than yesterday and a duo of rendition (Aimee thank you for your vocal and physio support) of P!nk’s ‘Raise your Glass’.  Some pigs are pink!

Brathay 10in10 – Chapter 6 – Slay the Stymphalian Birds

Ladies Day, yippee!  Except for Ladies Day here at the 10 in 10 involved the male physios donning dresses.  There are sights that can now never be unseen; looking down to see how my k-tape was being applied my eyes wandered uncontrollably to the cleavage of Adam Smith, except the view revealed stubbly chest hair over his glistening, muscular pecs.  And no, I’m stating fact not being impressed.  The image will unfortunately be etched in to my visual memory banks.

When I applied for the 10in10 I listed as my ‘running achievements’ a few marathons and half marathons.  Taking into account I have only actually completed, one ultra marathon, St Bees, SBU 35 and four marathons, at the end of today I have now doubled that total.  Today, I’ve completed five marathons, that’s ten in my whole career.  In the last five days I’ve (as you may have guessed, I’m avoiding the word ‘run’) completed as many marathons as I’ve done in the last 27 years.

Tomorrow is Wednesday, I can’t bear to think it is Day 6 (regardless of me writing it), tomorrow is simply Wednesday and we are taking it day by day.

The shins were not great this morning, Left rated 8/10 for pain/soreness which had only dissipated from 8.5 yesterday.  My right leg had improved from 8/10 to 4/10.  The marathon was as expected, frustrating, upsetting, long and a whole 26.2 miles.  The strategy we’ve adopted is just getting from Box to Box (there are 12 drink stations located at the same strategic point around the course).  If we can get to Box 1, we aim for Box 2 and so on.  When I was a young footballer that was my game, so I can get from box to box.  We just need to ‘Never Give Up’, ‘Enjoy Yourself’ and ‘Try Your Very Best’.  I’m doing what I can.

Some git around Bowness actually nicked box 10.  Can you believe it? Why?  For what purpose?  We are just twenty 30, 40, 50 and even 60 somethings trying to do something positive; achieve a personal goal and more importantly raise money for a worthwhile cause.  I don’t understand what sort of retard thinks it is amusing to steal 20 water bottles.  But, I’ll let you decide how intelligent or amusing they are?

K-Tape was something I’ve used the last two years since I’ve been running again, except earlier this year someone mentioned to me that there was no proven medical benefit for using it, so I stopped.  Today, it helped me.  Being somewhat of a closet sceptic (I really worried that I was going to be pulled today, and not permitted to start or finish) I watched the tape being applied and my shin felt a little better.  Certainly, my right did but left was a little sore still.  Each mile held something different, a good old sing song (thank you Aly Knowles for the loan of the Bone Conductors, the music helped today), high fives from the Children of Hawkshead Primary School (Oggy, Oggy, Oggy, Oi, Oi, Oi), the usual land marks, and now a new game of Marathon Deal or No Deal – I put different food, drinks or nothing in the drink stations so it is a bit of a surprise or disappointment when I get to look inside and find what’s there, sometimes there’s a banana or not.


Getting to Box 12 and ambling into Ambleside, I managed a gentle jog/run/plod (delete as appropriate) from the athletes portaloos (last-minute needed distraction) in the car park and up the hill back to Brathay, crossing the finish line with a forward roll and a little rendition of ‘Hi Ho Silver Lining’ in memory of old Smokey.  Unfortunately, Aimee didn’t know the words nor got the tenuous reference.  Not sure whether I’m the right person to help educate her in quality music?

Regardless of whether K-Tape works or not, I care not one wit.  I trust the physios and the support team here at Brathay who have not steered me wrong, not once, amazingly I have listened and co-operated (I think).  So another Labour completed and even if K-tape is Dumbo’s Feather, I’m going to hold on to it, to get through to the end.

Brathay 10in10 – Chapter 5 – Steal the Mares of Diomedes

Laughter really is the best medicine.  The last ten minutes of physio today was (for me, who likes a giggle at his own jokes), laugh out loud funny.  Now I guess you had to be there, but whilst we were going through the final bit of hamstring work, Aimee recounted the story of her childhood horse, Smokey.  ‘I used to have a horse but he died because he farted too much.’  Sad I know and I’m sorry for your loss.  Losing a childhood friend is never easy.  But, seriously tagging on trump reasoning at the end however accurate sent me into a tailspin.  It helped because I didn’t feel a twinge whilst both of my hammies were being manipulated to loosen the tightness in them.  Thoughts raced through my head, which unfortunately, were vocalised, to the amusement of some and perhaps derision of others, apologies for my impropriety.  The first song and idea that pranced out of my head and missed the appropriateness filter was ‘Champion the Wonder Horse’ the next idea was that Smokey had attached a hose from his ass to his mouth to die of suffocation from noxious vapours.  Sorry, I sniggered, guffawed, snorted, neighed and uncontrollably laughed out loud, a little like the gas blowing and billowing from Smokey’s anus.  The actual cause of death, regardless of how vaporific Smokey was, apparently his bowels became tangled.  Please bow your head as a mark of respect, rest in peace Smokey.

Some facts; to my name before this week I had only ever accomplished 4 marathons (only one of which was earned in the last two years, the other three back in my 20s), I have now completed four of the Brathay 10in10.  That means I’ve doubled the marathon total on my running CV.  Over the last four days we (because to be honest without the support we get, we wouldn’t get anywhere, well I wouldn’t) have accomplished a running distance of 104.8 miles.  The song crossing the finishing line was, I would walk 104.8 miles and I would walk 104.8 more just to be that man … (sang to the imagined sound track of The Proclaimers, 500 Miles), we nailed the chorus ‘Da,da,da,da, da,da,da,da, da, dadumm, dummid, dum da, da da la’, though.


The fourth Mare of Diomedes was called Deinos (terrible), today could have been terrible, but it wasn’t.  It must easily have been the hottest day so far.  My running was okay, going up hills was fine but coming down them, it felt like the suspension was going.  Mrs Warren passed me at  ‘marital aid cottage’ (there is some beautiful topiary but shaped in well, I think you can work it out) around mile 9 or 10 and mentioned as she glided by me in her best honest Yorkshire twang, ‘you run much better up hills than you do down them’.  So, regardless of both wheels falling off, we put today down as a bad day at the office, something to learn from for the rest of the week.  Everything happens for a reason.

My reasoning today was that if I didn’t complete the fourth marathon I couldn’t take part in five, six, seven, eight, nine or ten.  Today was all about being sensible.  Not doing too much damage and finishing.  The resolution approaching Box 8 was to get to Box 9, once at Box 9 get to Box 10 and so on.  The muscles in my shin failed me, which allows me to plant my foot in a position to move forward, quite useful for running up hills, which if you hadn’t worked out, round Windermere there are just one or two.  The lower leg muscles are like your landing gear, mine were locked in an uncomfortable position, so each footstep was like a tiny walnut hammer hitting the muscle at the front just above the ankle.  Needless to say Box 8 (mile 16-ish) to the finish line is quite a way, so my ‘time’ went out of the window, my mood didn’t and we finished with a smile.  No horsing around tomorrow, we start to get into the business end, tomorrow will be another milestone, once we’ve finished we are half way there and if we can get half way we can do it.