On the Saturday just gone I participated in the Jabulani Challenge by walking 22 kilometres through Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park. Part of me wants to say it doesn't really mean anything because the 'real' participants ran the whole course, or because the 'real' participants did 45 kilometres, or because my time was pretty bloody slow.
But I'm ignoring that voice in my brain because it does mean something, to me anyway. It means something because I wasn't at my best - having pretty much missed the last three weeks of training due to illness and life - but I did it anyway. It means something because I did it all completely solo. I drove there on my own, I walked on my own, I inhaled coffee and a toasted sandwich on my own, and I drove home on my own. I had so many excuses, so many chances to pull out, but I didn't.
It means something because it was a hot and sweaty 22 kilometres up hills and down hills and up so many more ridiculously steep hills. It was 22 kilometres jumping over rocks and tree roots and streams, dealing with shoulder high vegetation, goat tracks and getting lost once (okay, twice).
So I'm going to treasure my bling, and I'm going to treasure that sense of seeing yet another hill and just thinking 'yep, let's do this!'. And doing it.
Here's some things I learnt:
- Training plans are awesome, even when you aren't able to follow them to the letter. I'm certain that doing the training before I was sick and busy helped me out immensely on the day, especially all those hill intervals and trail walks. If I hadn't of done that work early on I reckon I really would have struggled on the day.
- Preparation is key. See the note on training above. But it's also about making sure you've got all your gear sorted well in advance, and that you've thought through all the logistics for a stress free day (just the essentials like parking, food, hydration and coffee...). I even pre-programmed the car's GPS the night before; one less thing to think about at arse o'clock on the day of the event.
- Going to an event on your own can be a bit intimidating, especially for an introvert like me. But it's worth it. I like the feeling of training for something, and being set a clearly defined challenge. There's also a nice sense of camaraderie out on the trail, everyone was very friendly and helpful.
- Although I was at the event on my own, I did have a virtual cheer squad which was so awesome. It really made a difference, especially in the first 7kms. So post on Facebook, tweet, text and 'gram. Just make sure you watch where you're walking when you do.
- Trail walking / running is hard. Don't assume because you can do a certain distance on the footpath that you can do that same distance on a trail. It really doesn't translate. It's not just the hills - on a trail you have to think about every single step you take (unless you don't mind a rolled ankle!). The trail is constantly changing, which is mentally and physically challenging, but it's also kind of what makes it awesome. I was beyond impressed watching the 45km runners. Impressive stuff.
- Apart from a bit of soreness in the knees yesterday, and a twinge (or three) in the ankles today I've actually pulled up pretty well. I'm putting it down to magnesium tablets daily (I've been taking them for a good few months now); good hydration before, during and after the event; wearing compression socks before and after; and a couple of nice long hot soaks in our pool.
Have you completed an event lately? Or just something that you're a bit proud of? Tell me!