“If you do not have courage, you may not have the opportunity to use any of your other virtues.” (Samuel L. Jackson)
Heading into my fourth Equinox, pushing my body to its absolute limit has taught me the very essence of who I really am.
Everyday life can often feel chaotic. Bearing in mind the responsibilities we face as parents, siblings, employees, friends, etc. It can lead us to be mentally overworked and drain some of the intrinsic traits that make us unique. But when we strip ourselves bare from the roles and responsibilities of daily life, we realise who we really are…
7:30 am, Saturday morning, we drove to Belvoir (Beaver) castle…
Meanwhile, my twins have just started attending secondary school… and I decided to send them to different schools. So, uniforms washed and laid out on Friday night were my first priority. The journey to Belvoir started like a scene in a family comedy film. My son, Shay, blurted out ‘anyone got a tissue? My tooth has fallen out” after we had already reached the motorway. Unfortunately for me, the tooth fairy was isolating due to track and trace, so now there is a loose tooth somewhere in my car.
Leading up to the race, my hamstrings were beginning to flare up. I was also experiencing some tightness on the outside of my thigh. Having brought a golf ball and foam roller to relieve some of the irritation before the race began – I decided to use my valuable time standing directly in the gaze of the sun preaching to anyone who would listen about how not to get too affected by the sun.
Then the race started! The conditions were still uncomfortably warm and dry which meant being properly hydrated and cool was the main ploy.
“Now boys, this heat is gonna catch a lot of people out, take some of my salt tabs”
There was a little bit of self-sabotage on my behalf, I decided against wearing a sun visor/hat. Two laps in… I was sun-dried. I had to text Supermum to ask her to soak my visor buff… the main thing was I really wanted some water, to revitalize myself.
Three laps in, I ran into Sid!
Sid is a legend.
[Sid should be read in a Birmingham accent]
As someone ran by, they asked him “Sid! How you doin’, mate?”
Sid in his strong accent murmured, “Do you know, how lang does it take to cook a 200-pound turkaay at 100 degrees?”
I had no idea how Sid (competing in a morph suit) was lasting, But a 200-pound turkey would have been an exciting sight! I decided to walk and talk with him for about two laps, just generally discussing fundraising and how he hated wearing his morph suit. To the extent, he didn’t train in it and only put it on 10 mins before the race. Yet, Sid through his passion for raising money for Birmingham children’s hospital, told me the morph suit was worth helping provide things such as beds for parents to sleep on at the hospital. Sid’s determination and the thought of children not being able to have their parents with them, in the hospital.
In December last year, I ended up having an overnight stay in hospital with Shay and was so grateful for the bed I slept in next to my son – that experience was what inspired me to finally write this article.
For those who asked if they could sponsor me during the race, I politely ask you to head over to Sid’s fundraiser and sponsor him in my place. After finishing my talk with Sid, I ran into my friend Mike. He (Mike) mentioned how Sid liked to make things harder for himself such as doing triathlons on a BMX. He has almost zero visibility in the morph suit. At night, he has to wear a visor pulled right down so that the torch beam lights up the path in front of him.
Before getting into a groove:
A few hours into the race, the weather finally cooled down, I started to simply… feel epic. Annie, my daughter had massaged my legs with some deep heat at the end of the first four laps and I finally fell in a good rhythm. Thanks to the salt tabs I brought on my journey, hydration wasn’t as big of a factor as some of the other competitors who didn’t prepare for the weather being this brutal.
Three laps after meeting Sid, on my way up one of the hills (which all should be appropriately named stuff of nightmares). I met a fellow competitor (turns out he was a stage hypnotist) with these rather peculiar headphones on. He told me they were called “Bone-conduction headphones.” Fascinated by them, I asked if I could give them a go… and so he let me. The bass was surprisingly present. Yet I couldn’t necessarily identify what music I was listening to. That didn’t stop me from wearing them for at least another kilometer. P.S. I think he didn’t mind me wearing them for so long (sorry).
Facing difficult times:
Midway into my fourth lap, I had started to fully cool down, the sun had finally taken a full vacation. However, as I was running downhill I felt a tweak in my right knee (Instantly giving me flashbacks to a similar injury in 2015 in Gozo). Without hesitation, I decided to do a little prayer to God. Which was strange for me as I thought I was a Buddhist. It went something like
“If I take the rest of the race easy and promise to be a good girl forever, please will you not let my knee get worse and stop me”
After lap seven, everything felt like it was starting to unfold. My torchlight battery had finally died and I had to head back to my tent to replace the batteries. On the eighth lap, I tried to put my walking poles together to give my knee a break but as I started the lap, the poles fell apart like a cruel magician’s trick. By the ninth lap, the negative thoughts of not being able to achieve my original target weighed down on me, making it difficult to find some optimism for continuing, when things started to not go ideally.
Two other runners (Mike and Gregg) had their tents pitched right next to mine. So, as soon as I heard they were back I shouted “Lads, I’m thinking to call it a day at 10 laps.” I explained all the problems that had started to arise. To which Mike replied, “So what’s gone wrong.”
After listening to my problems, he suggested “So, other than your head torch, which you’ve now fixed – what is the actual problem? Is it, 15 laps or nothing?” All of this was said with this puzzled look I had previously seen two weeks ago when I told him I should have been a rapper (Debut comes out soon!).
A tale of resilience:
Mike sliced through my weak excuses like a pendulum. He suggested I take 2 paracetamol and told me “we’re all heading out now on a communal lap”. So, I did. I put on my comfy fluffy fleece, ditched the walking poles, and headed out with a cup of coffee and feeling happier than before my interaction with Mike! To me, it highlights the power of reframing events. Specifically, being able to reflect and not view things as stacked against you… and maybe the coffee had started kicking in.
The fleece didn’t last long… I ditched it at the next aid station. But, I felt and ran the rest of that lap pretty gracefully I’d like to think (at least in my head and that’s all that matters). Once again after a while, those demons started to whisper and crawl into the back of my head. Running at night provides an ample amount of time alone for you to doubt yourself. I started to feel like “what’s the point anymore”.
Stronger then you think:
But, to quote myself from earlier: Pushing my body to its absolute limit has taught me the very essence of who I really am. I recalled motivating words from a fellow ultra-marathon competitor called Lauren. Telling me “Don’t quit at night, wait till sunrise everything will feel better when the sun comes up.” (Lauren btw was supposed to have been supporting Mike and me in this race but she hurt her wrist leading up to the race). Yet, sure enough, it did get better. At roughly 6 – 630am I texted my mum and told her my final goal was to reach 13 laps and to maybe grab a quick Redbull.
The conclusion of the race:
With my final goal so close, the remaining two laps felt like a blur. The final two laps felt greater than the first two. On lap 12, I bumped into Jason, who wore a Deadpool morph suit back in 2017. He did not feel as great as I was and said it was hell. His knees had fully gone. Lap 13 I saw another dude whose knees had gone too. We chatted for half a lap. Poor man, I think my tired nagging probably made it harder for him than his knees for that half a lap.
Near to the end of the race, there was a child barely old enough to talk, with a kids’ race number on him that went “well done” and that made my race for me. Something about encouragement from children really gets me. Every clap and every “go solo, you’re doing great!” means a great deal. As children obviously are a bit more in their own worlds usually, their encouragement means so much. That said, next year I’m considering joining one of those “right so the rules are, jaeger bomb then a lap” teams from Birmingham. Please do get in touch if you’re reading this!
Also, thanks a lot for reading, and please do go and check out Jason and Sid’s just giving page! 😊
Every donation helps!:
Jason’s post: https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/jasonw83
On September 18th I will be running the Equinox24 at Belvoir Castle (24 hour running event). I have entered as a solo runner in memory of my Mum who passed away earlier this year. I am fundraising for the charities Mind and British Heart Foundation”
In 2017 I ran solo as Deadpool for cancer charities, completed 10 x 10km laps (100km) and raised a chunk of money for good causes. Thanks to all who supported that effort.
This year I am aiming for at least 12 laps, but ditching the fancy dress.
If you can spare any money for these great charities, please sponsor me on my fundraising page below. If you are a UK taxpayer then please remember to Gift Aid your donation; it won’t cost you a penny more, but the charities will get an extra 25p for every £1 you donate, and it makes a massive difference to them.
Sid’s just giving: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/equinoxsidmorph
Broken Oaks: www.brokenoaksanctuary.org
Betty White Challenge: #bettywhitechallenge
The challenge started as an intermediate effort to honour the legacy of the great Betty White. And her unwavering support for organisations focused on improving the lives of animals. This challenge encourages people to celebrate Betty’s 100th birthday. By making a small donation (As small as £1) to a charity/cause based around animal rescue, welfare, protection and conservation.
A little blurb about my guinea pig sanctuary:
Broken Oak Animal Sanctuary, primarily focuses on the rescue, rehabilitation and providing a safe haven for guinea pigs. We advocate and facilitate responsible guinea pig care and provide resources through education, counseling and referral services. We partner with other organizations to aid us in being able to find foster and permanent homes for guinea pigs who are donated to us. Our mission is to offer a permanent sanctuary and a long-term home and/or assist in finding a safe placement, for guinea pigs who have been abandoned, surrendered, neglected, or mistreated.
For this specific fundraiser, I was trying to raise money for recent surrenders and rescues we took in that area. The £500 will go towards the vet bills and medical needs of 5 piggies.
And then of course we have social media @brokenoaksanctuary on IG and Broken Oak Sanctuary on FB, where people can see pics and posts about what we do!
Thank you for your help!