Baby Queens – Red light
Baby Queens – Red light
4 deserts – Racing the Planet – Madagascar
Start line… 31st August…
It’s finally here!
And so the time is rapidly approaching for Challenge 2 to commence… 250 km across varied terrain in Africa. The last email I read from Racing the Planet brought more information, including the fact that 4 members of staff had had their luggage lost so it was a good idea to pack as much as you could into your hand luggage. There then followed some frantic searching online for hand baggage allowances.
Now this may be a sign of things to come… and doesn’t really bode well for either my packing skills or how much it looks like I will be running with on my back. It turns out the airline has an allowance of 7kg for hand luggage (within dimensions) plus you get a handbag to carry things on. At 2am everything came out of the main bag, scattered across the living room floor and lots of squashing packets into creviches began. I’m not quite sure how well this is going to go down when it’s time to go through those x-ray machines… what if they insist I have to open my back pack up?
There was, of course, no room to put my trainers in the pack. Now if there is one thing you will not be able to replace for a race… it’s going to be this key item. We spend time breaking them in, we send them off to get stitched up for gaitering… there is no other item that you have probably taken as much thought and planning with as what goes on your feet! And that’s not just a race of this type, but any running. Blisters and foot problems make or break a race. There is therefore only one solution… and that’s to put the Converse into the luggage and wear my running shoes. Trail shoes. Woah… what a look to rock through customs LOL!
This then has thrown up another aspect… food! For those that know me, they know I love my food… especially cake. Cake… I feel a Homer Simpson moment coming on…
I have planned my nutrition quite carefully I think… but it doesn’t fit in my pack. I chucked everything into a stuff sack. A 20L stuff sack. It was full. My backpack is 20L. Where will everything else go? And… and… I’m under the daily calorie allowance I was hoping for as well! I’m praying I don’t get hungry… lives will be affected if I get hungry… I love my food… cake…
Doh… anyway… keep the writing on track, no time for cake tangents… it’s time to get to the start line in Madagascar! Hopefully the rumblings from Iceland will not worsen… hopefully my luggage will arrive safely… there are 4 flights to get there but I’m reassured the weather is getting a tad hot (ok so there are murmurings of 40 degrees heat – I’m ignoring those) so I have packed a couple of bikinis for the hotel pool for which there is much logical reasoning! If you want to know what that is, email me via the 4deserts website and I will reply on the blog there and once I’ve been and got taped up, it won’t be long before I depart the UK. Oh yes, that was another little thing… the legs have a few niggles… the plantar has kicked in again, the ankles are painful, swollen and the calves… well let’s just say if you could get rock solid, they’d be harder, so naturally the Achilles has decided to join in the grumbling. Obviously I’m ignoring all these things too, plus I’ve had a bit of help from my coach and fantastic sports therapist to keep me going 😉
So as to links…
If anyone fancies watching the updates of the race, please click here.
If you want to email me to send encouragement to keep me going through, what I have been reliably informed, will be moments of hell, please click here.
If you want to read a response to any emails sent, and to catch up with my thoughts on how each day is going, my blog (along with others) can be found here.
And of course, not forgetting the other aspect of what I’m doing here, highlighting the fundraising and need to get awareness out about domestic abuse / violence, to say that no, it is not ok, please share, donate, and get the message out, my justgiving page can be found here.
I look forward to hopefully hobbling over all stage finish lines… have a guess as to how long it will take me overall, and donate for each guess 😉
4 flights folks… I’m possibly on one of them right now as you read this!
Have a great week!
© August 2014 Michelle Payne
Domestic abuse / violence is a topic that is not talked about easily. It is easily hidden away because most people do not want to acknowledge the existence of it, don’t want the subject to touch their lives and also because once you know about something, there is then a choice about whether to do something about that new knowledge. Such choice automatically then leads to responsibility. Who wants to take responsibility for reporting domestic abuse? Who wants to get involved in that? The answer is generally a big fat no, with such inaction then lending more power to the abuser, because they get away with so much more, feel safe in the knowledge that they won’t be stopped and actually, if no-one ever does anything, it sends the implicit message that it is allowed. Yes, you read that right… by not doing anything about it (or sitting on the fence as it were) if you know about it, do nothing about it, then you’re saying it’s ok.
The world is a dangerous place, not because of those who do evil,
but because of those who look on and do nothing
~~ Albert Einstein ~~
But if you know abuse is happening and want to help someone, what do you do? Who do you turn to? What help is available? If you don’t know the answers to such questions, that too can stop victims getting help. So the aim of running these challenges is not only to raise funds (which are desperately needed) but also to raise awareness of this topic.
Therefore, the charity that I chose was Refuge.
Although I have a full time job in the City, I am also a qualified Counsellor. I work in private practice with clients, with whatever issues they bring (from self-esteem, relationships, body image, negative thought patterns, generational patterns and more) and additionally as a volunteer with a local domestic abuse charity. Please note that this is not Refuge.
Refuge opened the world’s first safe house for women and children escaping domestic violence in Chiswick, West London, in 1971 and have been providing help to those who need help to escape. As Government funding is not enough to sustain the demands that Refuge faces… and let’s face it, demands that shouldn’t be necessary in any day and age!… it relies on help from volunteers and donations to meet those demands… demands that ultimately means lives are saved! Ways that they get such help is through challenges and events, such as running… which helps to raise much needed funds and helps to get the message out about what domestic violence / abuse means and can entail, and it was one such event that brought me into contact with them.
That event was the Virgin London Marathon and the first of the Triple Continent Challenge. Now some friends (who aren’t runners) thought that because I’d already completed a long race by this point, figured it would be easy. That was, until I pointed out I wanted to run the whole way… and in a much quicker time. Specifically to shave at least half an hour off my time, or more if it was possible. But predominantly to do this without stopping, with all the niggles that I had had to date and the fact I hadn’t run more than 13.1 miles non-stop. I hadn’t figured on the amount of people running it either until someone pointed that out.
And it was at this point that I knew I needed help. Professional help (yeah yeah I can hear some of those friends’ voices laughing at that…) because it’s one thing to actually go and totter off down a trail marathon (or ultra) with a lot of walking (and pain, which kinda goes without saying) as a one-off, it’s quite another to specifically train for and run a road marathon… one of the world majors… with virtually no proper training experience, especially if you’ve had quite extensive hip surgery some years previously which meant spending about 3 months on crutches.
Life is somewhat synchronistic because I eventually, through a recent running connection, found myself making a visit to that person’s coach to see if they could help me. That initial session was more like an interview… and it wasn’t me in the driving seat! What did I want to achieve, what training and experience did I already have… and what time did I have to put into training going forwards. Looking back, it still makes me chuckle a bit to remember Rich’s face when I told him what I’d already signed up for, what little experience I had and how I had no readily available time to devote to training. He told me he didn’t think he could train me. He’s blunt like that 🙂
However, when you really want something… ultimately, you will do what you have to do to get it… and when he told me that, apart from feeling pretty gutted for a little while… my answer was: tell me what you want from me and I will tell you if I can do it! A day later I got an email. And nearly died in horror, wondering how on earth I’d fit one run in, let alone five… plus a coaching session, plus two conditioning sessions… all in one week, every week, plus daily stretching… plus work, college, commuting, second job, building my own business… well, you can imagine…
and so the training began, choices and sacrifices made…
until 6 months later I ended up on the start line of the London Marathon… well actually, I was in a pen… near the back which took about 10 minutes to reach the start line once the race began… but off I trotted, with one of my friends from Sierra Leone beside me…
I didn’t finish in the time I envisaged the previous year…
I had “injuries”… a niggly ITB meant pain… but worse was I had developed some painful plantar fasciitis which meant I basically limped most of the way round…
and yes it hurt, especially the last few miles (not as much as when I stopped after I crossed the finish line though… little tip… do not sit down on the grass, you will end up being helped up by the Red Cross if you are not able to pull yourself up by holding onto a nearby tree!)…
but I did it non-stop… the whole way… so damn proud…
and I did it quicker! Not too shabby a time if I do say so myself 🙂
4 hours 17 minutes 15 seconds
It’s amazing what you can achieve when you set your mind to it… but the thing is, you have to be open to the possibility… to know and be able to reach out to those that can help you. My coach Rich was amazing in helping me get to that point, he’s even more amazing for putting up with me since, or maybe that’s the wrong way round 😀 … of course, we had to get over the little thing first about how he thinks I’m absolutely nuts to even consider doing one stage run, let alone two… and let alone so close together… and that’s not normally how he works… what’s that saying Rich, it takes one to know one 😉 … anyway…
I’m still fundraising for Refuge with these runs, so if you would (hopefully) like to sponsor me for being crazy enough to attempt this challenge… to help Refuge help others, please click on my justgiving link where you can donate online:
and if you would like to find out more about Refuge and the work it does, please click here.
And of course if you have ever fancied running or jogging/walking a marathon to help a fantastic charity, then please get in touch with Refuge to see about getting one of their bond places!
I’m flying out very shortly to start the second challenge in Madagascar, so will blog the next post when I can.
Many thanks for taking the time to read this, and please do spread awareness of what domestic violence / abuse constitutes and how people can reach out and get help.
Don’t fence sit (you’ll get splinters eventually ;)… say No to DV!
Have a great day 🙂
August 2014 Michelle Payne
SNAKEHIPS – Days With You (feat. Sinead Harnett)
You jump, you spin, you hop
the delight on your face
when the music starts
as you wiggle and try to bop.
it’s a joy to behold
Once upon a time
I too was like that
a long time ago
before I encountered
some of life’s little mishaps!
To have such innocence
to feel so free
without caring who may see.
spin round and round
until a stagger
a fall to the ground.
I gather you up
your bottom lip starts to quiver
and give a little shiver.
I wipe away the falling tears
and try to calm your fears
a sniffle, a snuffle, a little sob
such tears and hurt
make my heart throb.
Your friends start calling your name
they want your attention
they’re playing a game!
You look up at me
as if to ask
if I get down
will you take me to task?
Or is it ok?
Will you wait
while I go and play?
These moments I will remember
as I age and become more grey
no matter your age
you will always stay.
Words © July 2014 Michelle Payne
Picture found circulating freely online
MAGIC! – Rude
To the End
What do you see
when you look into my face
what thoughts and images flash through?
What do you feel
as you hover above
acting like a clown?
What about when you cuddle up close
What about when you pat my chin
when you want attention
when you touch my skin?
We greet each other
a good morning
a grateful sigh
each day that arrives
brings a happy thought
we still have
just that little bit more time.
And every day
you do the same thing
you look puzzled, bemused
as the alarm starts to ring
you tilt your head
snuggle up close
no words need to be said
just another few minutes
a little more time
before I have to get out of bed.
I should be used to this by now
I tell myself each day
yet still I watch and wonder
as you move… startled
as the alarm starts to play.
How do you hear that noise
how does it sound
how much I wish you could tell me
how I wish I could understand.
People say that you don’t care
how can I know your feelings are true
but to connect so deeply to another
with such total utter unconditionality
to deny that instinctive elemental love
I just don’t get
I’ve always known that time will approach
I know I’ve done everything I should
I also know that when all is said and done
My self I will still reproach.
not enough time did I give
not all my words were soft
in ignorance I wanted to stay
to keep my world’s reality at bay.
I hope and pray this didn’t add
to any suffering and pain you had
I just could not believe it true
this day could come so soon.
And sure enough
that day did come
time to leave
our physical bond undone.
Together to that very end
you knew you weren’t alone
surrounded by love
wrapped in my embrace.
my very soul
into the mystery of beyond you go.
Words © July 2014 Michelle Payne
Picture found circulating freely online
So what is the next challenge?
Well after I couldn’t sign up for the Marathon des Sables, I did a little Google surfing… and it was amazing to find just how many runs, races, countries and continents these are run on… I think every country and definitely every continent. Yes you read right, every continent including Antarctica! And no, I’m not going there… I’m not a fan of feeling even a little bit cold… I blame being a summer baby for that!
But I happened to find myself at a website with THE most stunning trailer… in a different country on a different continent and while listening to the soundtrack and watching the most amazing scenery… I got the goosebumps. You know the ones, not just any old I’m feeling cold or something a little freaky has happened and raises the hairs on your arms… this was OMG I have to do this, I have to be there… it doesn’t matter how hard it is (I may regret ever thinking this shortly!)… how expensive… this is a once in a lifetime experience…
I’d found myself watching this:
(click on the title to be taken to their website)
170 miles / 273 kilometres from the North Rim of the Grand Canyon up to the Grand Staircase
over 7 days
You get a tent for the night… and water to drink…
self-supported – you have to carry everything else you need in a backpack while you run/hike/climb
a marathon or more every day
(one day is a double marathon)
and longer than the Marathon des Sables.
But a triple continent challenge needs 3 continents… so add the continent of Europe… specifically the London Marathon… 26.2 miles, completed earlier this year, although I haven’t had time to blog about it until now… more on this in the next post!
And for the third continent… it’s back to Africa… for the 3rd time in 18 months… oh yes, I paid a little visit to another African country at the beginning of this year which I figured might help as challenging “training” albeit of a different nature… which I will write about if I ever get the time!… So yes, Africa again … specifically Madagascar… no, not like the film… though if I end up hallucinating I may very well see talking lions and giraffes… hopefully not the zebra though!
And this is part of the 4deserts series via Racing the Planet. Each year they put on a stage race, like the Marathon des Sables and Grand2Grand (or g2g as it’s more commonly known) in the 4 driest deserts: the Atacama Crossing (Chile), the Gobi March (Mongolia/China), the Sahara Race (Jordan/Egypt) and the Last Desert aka Antarctica! They also put on one extra and this is known as a roving race, held in a different country each year with 2014 being held in Madagascar… quite a good job as 2013 was in Iceland and it looked cold.
(click on the title to be taken to their website)
Again, you get a tent for the night… and water to drink…
and you have to carry everything you need in a backpack while you run/wade (there are river crossings above knee height *eek*) and no doubt walk (lots of walking, I plan on lots of walking).
And just to make it harder… because surely that doesn’t sound hard enough?
The two stage runs (as these type of multi-day events/races are known as) are only a few weeks apart!
Actually they are 15 days apart, from the finish line in Africa to the start line in America… and in that time I have to fly home from Africa, get back to work, college and daily life, recover (heaven help me)… and then fly out to America to get on that starting line.
15 days between the two events… running a total of 324 miles.
Yes, you read that right too… 324 miles, across remote and difficult terrain, carrying everything I need and giving an overall total of, I believe just over 350 miles for the 3 events.
I am of course fundraising for such a challenge… and it’s for a fantastic charity that deals with challenges, survival, motivation, courage, fears (amongst other aspects)… details will be given with the London Marathon post 🙂 so please do take time to visit their website and share information once that post has been blogged.
From new runner in February 2013
to double stage runner in September 2014
Is it do-able?
I’m about to find out.
“You only get one life: aim high and be all that you can be”
~ Michelle Payne ~
© August 2014 Michelle Payne
Indiana – Heart on Fire
Well it’s now been well over a year since I returned from Sierra Leone… and as I’ve previously mentioned, this trip and challenge ended up opening some doors for me… very interesting ones!
When you set yourself a challenge and not only meet it… but, to put not too fine a phrase to it… smash it!… where do you go next? And it’s one thing to train well and achieve a half marathon, let alone finish a full, in tropical heat and humidity… and in under 5 hours 15 minutes 😉 (yes, I’m still proud of what I achieved that day, and I believe anyone could also achieve it if they wanted to)… but anything else would surely be too huge a step up to contemplate seriously! However, I truly believe that if you really want to do something, you will eventually get there… what’s the saying?
If you really want to do something, you’ll find a way.
If you don’t, you’ll find an excuse.
~~ Jim Rohn ~~
So upon returning home, there just happened to be a half marathon a week later… so I entered, and got not too shabby a time for it. However I already knew I could finish it because 1) walking was possible and 2) I’d jogged the first 11 miles of Sierra Leone non-stop, a PB was guaranteed as it was the first time racing at that distance… and I also had in the back of my mind words repeating from another runner I met in Sierra Leone… who said: “well of course Michelle, once one has completed the Street Child Sierra Leone Marathon, they can only do MdS” (or words to that effect).
For those that haven’t heard of MdS it stands for Marathon des Sables, described as “The toughest footrace on earth”… how daunting is that?!
250km across the Sahara desert in Morocco over a week… a marathon every day, with one day being 80km (the Long March) so that’s a double marathon and a little bit more… and you have to carry everything you need for that week on your back. All that is provided is a tent to shield you from the elements and water to drink through the course.
Daunting actually is an understatement, plain crazy seemed more appropriate… but I watched the trailers, and got goosebumps so I thought I’d sign up. But it wasn’t open. So I couldn’t. It obviously wasn’t meant to be… and I’m not sure if I felt relieved or disappointed… but the seed had been planted… which was then watered with a little internet surfing via Google…
and that next challenge… will be discussed in my next rambling post 😀
Given the news from Western Africa at the moment, please keep the people from Sierra Leone, Liberia and Nigeria in your thoughts… absolutely awful news about the Ebola virus and deaths from it. Prayers sent to those affected and their loved ones, and hopefully it won’t spread any further than it has done already.
© Michelle Payne