Grand2Grand Ultra – Stage 1

27/03/2015

And so it began…

The Grand2Grand… I was actually at the banner, the start line… the very place I had seen on the trailer a year ago. Thinking back now it still seems very surreal… did that really happen, was I there… remembering the nervousness as everyone gathered, as the British crowd decided to get a group photo and how it seemed totally right to go and get our flag from that start line 🙂

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Memories are made of this.

We gathered, the wind rustled, music played… there was dancing amid a sense of heightened anticipation… and then suddenly the countdown finished and everyone surged across… I tried to keep up, heart hammering, head down, pushing too quickly and feeling it because my pack was heavier than in Madagascar. How hard to try and hold back when you get that adrenaline surge and just want to go, to fly across the ground…

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…eventually the crowd thins out and, given the number of competitors, the distances you are covering, differences in runners’ speeds and race strategies, eventually you can find yourself on your own… and given the landscape we were running across, this could be for hours at a time!

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I adopted a walk/run strategy which worked well for what I reckon was the first half of the course that very first day… until disaster struck…

I should have expected it really but a combination of naivete, lack of running experience, living in denial and sheer stubborness to achieve what I had challenged myself to do would have a price: that being my piriformis cramping and spasming acutely. The pain was unbelievable. Every single step hurt and it was all I could do not to cry while I limped on. I knew I was well within the time cut offs even if I walked the rest of the way due to the time that had elapsed to that point, but I didn’t know if I could actually  walk that far…

Luckily I then met up with a cheeky funny Irish chap who was incredibly kind: on seeing at how much pain I was in, he decided to stay with me the rest of the way. We talked about our running experiences (mine: very little; his: 3:05 marathons and finished 100 milers) and why we had chosen to do the event. I then learnt about Team SuperGavin – several of the g2g racers had joined together with him to fundraise and help his friend’s little boy who was having treatment for Embryonal Rhabdomyosarcoma. For those that do not know what Rhabdomyosarcoma is, very simplistically, it’s a rare cancer that affects mostly children under 10 years of age, mainly boys, and affects the supporting tissues of the body. Gavin was a baby when he was diagnosed with an aggressive form of this cancer.  Phelim was fundraising to help with his treatment – even now, reading what Gavin went through brings me to tears. I cannot begin to imagine what his family and nearest and dearest went through, and hopefully I never will.

To read more about this type of cancer, please visit the Macmillan page by clicking here.

To visit the blog of Team Gavin Glynn, please click here (and have tissues handy!).

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How can you not push on when you hear about something like that? How could you whimper out because of a bit of hip pain? Here was a real story of pain, determination, hope and courage. Of bravery. A child who demonstrated all these qualities and more.  A story of pure and utter LOVE.

So… the trekking pole got jammed into the muscle (thank god there were no photos of this – ok yes I’m phrasing this politely, I jammed it against my backside !!) and it was a limp shuffle onwards, interrupted slightly when the storm clouds whipped up so fiercely that the plastic ponchos we had been given had to be dug out and fought. I say fought because the wind was so fierce I managed to get my head into what appeared to be an arm sleeve and in the process nearly ended up nearly suffocating myself. Phelim helped me out of that one too! Luckily the black clouds veered to our right so we only caught a brief few minutes… others behind us were not so lucky… and later that evening there were tales of huge hailstones pelting runners!

Eventually we came into sight of what appeared to be a little hill looming ahead. Our final destination was to the right but that would have been too easy… the pink flags fluttered showing the way ahead… to where little dots moved like ants. Only 5-10 minutes, or so we thought… much later (probably around 30 minutes) we reached the base of that “little” hill… an incline so steep that especially with my hip still having a pole stuck into it, meant I had to take only a few steps then stop and breathe… and repeat: steps, stop and breathe. I’m not a fan of hills – they hurt 🙂 let alone when you chuck altitude and injury into the mix.

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See the little dot just before the hill starts – that’s a person.  Hard to gain perspective from pictures like this.  There were also numerous people going up that hill, not that you can see them on this as it needs to be magnified, a lot!

Later… much much later… and after quite a few choice words were uttered into the wind, we got to turn right… no easy trail here, avoid the sneaky cactus, don’t stumble over the uneven ground, ignore the pain from your sensitised feet and do not cry! Until up ahead fluttered the signs of camp…

The feeling of relief stepping over that finish line was amazing. One of my tentmates was waiting and helped take my pack and I hobbled over to the med tent. And there was another godsend. A runner called Yuri who was volunteering at the event, who not only works as a sport therapist but also teaches sport massage and although he hadn’t been planning to do any physical therapy at g2g, due to the amount of pain I was in, offered to help. I gladly accepted. Thanks to Yuri, the immediate pain subsided quite a bit and I was able to hobble to my tent and crack on with getting kit, food and drink sorted while the rest of my tent mates gathered.

Stage 1 done… 9 hours, 7 minutes, 20 seconds… much longer than I had expected to take… but…

I would now be on the start line in the morning no matter the pain… I just didn’t know if I’d make the end of Stage 2…

© March 2015 Michelle Payne

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The Triple Continent Challenge

04/08/2014

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:

GRAND TO GRAND ULTRA 

(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.

RTP Madagascar

(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

18 months!

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


Checking in

18/07/2014

So folks, just grabbing 5 minutes to pop in here… I’m conscious I haven’t updated properly since the last post connected to the Sierra Leone Marathon, but that’s because life has just kept getting busier and busier.  Do you every get to the point where you just feel totally overloaded?  Well although we talk about managing time and stress and pressures of life, it happens to Counsellors too! And I miss my writing so will endeavour to pop in more, albeit shorter posts.

For those that follow regularly, you will have noticed that I have stepped into the world of poems, which feels to flow very nicely at the moment.  They will be posted on Wednesdays, hopefully fortnightly… but I will see how that goes.

And how come the lack of time? Well I finished the college course I was on… and promptly started another! At the same time as the day job and the counselling job (both voluntary and private)… and then there’s the running!  Sometimes you never know what’s around the corner and this has most definitely proved to be true since visiting Sierra Leone in 2013.

For those that follow me on Twitter, you will no doubt know how some of this has seeped into my life… I’ve heard the phrase “taken over” muttered by friends but feel that may be just a little harsh 🙂 … but what we do in life will always ripple out.  For every action, there is a re-action.  And travelling to Sierra Leone to run in the marathon that the charity Street Child organises each year… well that opened new doors for me… very positive and happy doors… more on that to follow!

In the meantime, this weekend I am running a race to once again raise awareness for Street Child.  I will be running it with a few of the amazing friends I met out there, including the mad Geordie previously mentioned here… who still reminds me I went and left her (yes Helen, I’m talking about you again!)… this will probably happen again tomorrow… well I reckon if I’m never going to hear the last about it, I might as well make it worthwhile 😀

And the race, it’s a little adventure through a wonderful trail which takes a bit of time… 100 kilometres long… from a town to some stones that have been standing a while in a field… time to go lace some running shoes up…

Happy Friday everyone 🙂
Michelle

© 2014 Michelle Payne


If this were your last day

25/06/2014

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If this were your last day

If this were your last day
what would you stop and notice?

Would you see the sun as it
peeked through a blanket of darkness
Would you watch as it turned into
a glowing orb of shimmering molten orange?
Or would you lay there
and ingest the peace of a silent moment
second by second?

If this were your last day
what would you marvel at that’s around you?
The sound of birdsong, the beat of a butterfly’s wings
the hum of a city’s traffic?

Would you be active or sedentary?
Engaging or detaching?

If this were your last day
what would be the things that matter to you?
The house, the car, the latest tech and games?
Or would it be the people, the hugs
the laughter and smiles
the pain and the tears that have accumulated over time?
Would there be happiness, hand held walks
or would there be anger, blame or fights?

If this were your last day on earth
would you Give or Take
be Love or Hate?

If this were your last day
Today
Here
Now

What kind of day would you choose to have?

If this were your last day…

Words © February 2014 Michelle Payne
Picture © August 2013 Michelle Payne


Sierra Leone Marathon 2013 – A new challenge #SLM13

10/02/2013

Last Monday a friend mentioned to me about the Sierra Leone Marathon that was taking place in May this year and wondered if I fancied doing it as I’ve been wanting to improve my running. Well, when I say running, I mean my attempted “interval training” on the gym’s treadmill. As my jaw dropped in disbelief at the word “Marathon”, she quickly mentioned that there were two other options: a half-marathon and a 5K run. I kinda liked the idea of a 5k run, even though I’d never managed it before without stopping. And so the seed was planted.

However, given that a 5K wouldn’t really be THAT much of a challenge and really… how could I fly all the way from London to West Africa for that… that seed sprouted into the idea of doing a half-marathon. I think I’m still in shock that I’m actually going to go and do this.

So, the basics!  This is for Street Child:

Print

As stated on their website:

“The children who eke their survival only by stealing, working for pitiful sums in often hazardous and/or demeaning conditions, or selling – often selling that which no-one should ever have to sell?

The children whose sum possessions are usually the rags you see on their bodies.

The children who sleep on the street in lorry parks, market stalls and other public places, hopelessly exposed to disease and predation.

The children with no hope of medical care when they inevitably fall ill.

The children with no secure or safe place – who can never relax.

The children more often viewed with hatred than concern in the places they live.

The children exposed to gangs and drugs instead of school and food.

The children with no visible prospect of education or development, condemned to parasitic life.

The children with no one to look after them.

The children whose life is almost certainly condemned to being brutish, short, and dangerous.”

A pretty damn worthwhile charity don’t you think?

Add to that the personal challenge from only being able to run a 4.5km on a treadmill in 25 minutes and getting myself fit enough in the roughly 12 weeks that is available, but also to fit it in around what is an already hugely packed schedule; not forgetting that as a life coach I have to be able to motivate my clients, so motivating myself should be a doddle right?  Not so.  After all, how many people find it easier to help others change things in their life, than their own!  Coaches (and counsellors) are no exception!

The aims:

*** to raise money and awareness through social media and blogging for Street Child (thereby helping others to eventually help themselves);

*** to blog updates showing the highs (and no doubt lows, hopefully not too many) of this personal challenge;

*** to get fitter;

*** to be able to complete a half-marathon;

*** and maybe, hopefully, inspire others who may be finding their current path a bit hard to walk at present.

I will also be looking at finding and utilising any resources I can, as well as listing them on the specific page I’ve created for this challenge, which can be found here!

If anyone has any questions, tips or thoughts… please do comment and share them.  I will endeavour to respond as soon as I can, either by comment reply or in a blog post.

Please do share and help me get Street Child’s message out there into the world. For twitter users, the hashtag is #SLM13. And for anyone that fancies joining in and running either a 5K, half-marathon or full marathon, please hop on over to their Marathon Page for more information, which can be found here.

My fundraising page can be found here and I will be adding that to each blog post I write.

I look forward to sharing this journey with you.

Namaste
Michelle

© 2013 Michelle Payne


Affirmation of the Week

30/07/2012

“I LISTEN TO MY BODY”

Seriously, how often do you really listen to your body? Did you know it speaks in whispers? Well, mine does… and very quiet ones at that. It’s either that or my *ego* self is way too loud… yes I’ve been pushing myself at the gym but I am actually very body aware when it comes to sport and/or exercise… I spent years doing a specific type of sport so am very lucky in the regard that nowadays I know how far to push myself, when to hold back, and when to not exercise at all. However, in the past, some years ago, most of the time I used to ignore what my body was telling me, I listened to others and conformed to what was expected of me by them… I worked a full-time job, I commuted, I then trained several times per week, commuted, worked, trained again, a solid cycle that never ended… I didn’t eat properly, smoked, didn’t get enough sleep & when I did sleep, it was never through the night solid sleep either.

These days I try to listen more… and it’s voice is especially noticeable when I really start listening… I don’t eat chocolate (*waits for the gasps of horror*)… which considering this is a daily staple, is a huge sacrifice!  I will then often smaller portions because really, I’m thirsty rather than hungry… and may even have a 2 hour afternoon nap on a Saturday instead of slumping in front of the tv watching something that would take my mind elsewhere from where it really needed to be!  When I listen to my body and ignore the *I want I want* of the ego… which ultimately is the part of me that wants instant gratification and comfort… then I am actually looking after myself properly, feeding myself, hydrating myself and loving myself in ways that are beneficial to me.

Now this isn’t the same thing as revelling in our bodies… we can revel and relish our physical form as much as we want, and that’s a good thing…  so long as we are taking care of it… after all, it has to last us a long time, a lifetime in fact!

So I would ask, if you sit quietly and “clear the clutter” that the monkey mind continuously fills your head with, what answers do you get when asking what things do you do to your body or give to your body that, really, you don’t want, need or isn’t good for you?  Not in a *health police* kind of way (I still maintain a little of what you fancy does you good *grin*), but more in the way of (and these are just basic thoughts, feel free to add to them):

  1. do you drink enough water
  2. do you over-eat or not eat enough
  3. do you eat enough of the right kinds of food
  4. do you get enough sleep
  5. do you exercise and if so, exercise in a healthy way
  6. do you smoke
  7. are you happy in your body
  8. do you accept your body
  9. do you drink alcohol
  10. do you do drugs

On a personal note, I’m trying to drink more water, cut down on some of the types of food I used to indulge in a lot more (oh how I love white refined sugar)… and one thing I always always try to do (and fail miserably) is getting to bed earlier (Facebook = time stealer)!

Perhaps next time you pick something up to eat, drink or even take part in… ask your body… do I really need this, do I really want this, what benefit will this bring to my life… will it make me happy… and open your mind to the answer… it could be the start of a new adventure with yourself!

Wishing you a wonderful week ahead ♥

© 2012 Michelle Payne


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