There are ten days left until the Super Spartan race. TEN. There’s no escape. I got an email the other day reminding me, as if I could forget. They are very clear you must bring your waiver form to the event, or you can’t race. You know, the form that says that you promise not to sue them if you break your legs/have a heart attack/fall to bits. Aiieeeeee and quadruple aiieeeee!
I have to admit I’m cramming like a lazy arsed student, hopped up on Pro Plus and desperate to get through the exams. Disclaimer: I am not taking Pro Plus or any other supplements, but now I’m wondering if there actually are any wonder drugs that could make me fly over walls and shimmy up ropes. Probably not.
At the gym yesterday, one of my friends said that I should just rest next week as I am now as fit as I am ever going to be for the race. I admit that scared the crap out of me because I don’t think I am that fit. Perhaps compared to people who don’t exercise, but I’m not at Spartan Queen level. I had planned to go for a run today but after three days of workout/run/workout on the trot, I need a rest day. After a week or two of easing us in at the new gym, the Coach has gone medieval on our asses and my shoulders are a bit tender. Obviously I don’t run with my shoulders but feck it, I just need a break. And some motivational quotes to cheer me on. Warning – I may pepper this post with them.
Tomorrow is another day, another sadistic workout. My running is still a bit rubbish, but that’s okay. Slow and steady might not win the race but it should get you to the end eventually. I’ve decided to crack on with exercise until Thursday (gym/run/gym/run), finish up with a massage, and then have two full days’ rest before the big day. Other than that, I can’t do much else but watch my diet and eat well for the next ten days. I’m planning another rest day this Sunday which will involve brunch with a friend, then watching the Wimbledon men’s final. Lovely jubbly.
What I have noticed in the last week, is how low level doubt and anxiety in one area of your life can spill into all the others. Things are still messy in my personal life which is not easy, and while I understand that despite my fears I will probably have lot of fun doing the Spartan Race, I can’t wait for it to be over so that I don’t have to think about it anymore. Doing exercise purely for the sake of it is something I am really looking forward to.
This Saturday I am off up to Glencoe again, just for one night. Due to its cheapness and proximity to the Clachaig Inn, I am staying in the Youth Hostel there. I’ve not stayed in a youth hostel for about ten years; the last time I was sharing a small room with two friends and we had our own private bathroom. I am not sure how I will cope with sharing with strangers, never mind having to get up for a piss in the night and find the toilets. Most importantly, my ear plugs shall be packed and I will keep my fingers crossed for nice roommates. Another wee adventure where I go out of my comfort zone.
But I am feeling a bit nervous about it this time. My plan is to hike up Buchaille Etive Beag, a mountain and ridge walk with two Munro tops, looking over Glencoe and Glen Etive, which is a truly wild and beautiful part of the country (for Bond fans, it’s most famous for being where they filmed the last bit of Skyfall). Unlike the last time, the weather is predicted to be showery and it’s a much bigger walk. I chose it for its relative safety, good paths and amazing views. Even though I am unlikely to get lost, I am currently obsessing over exactly where to start the walk or worrying about sliding down a slippery bit and landing in a bog.
Until I saw the weather forecast, I was really looking forward to it. The chances are that it will only be intermittent showers and it won’t be too cold. Walks in this weather can be annoying and unpleasant but at the end, you feel fantastic; knowing that you’ve persevered and really deserve that pint. And if it’s horribly wet, I can always abandon it for something that’s still tough but much shorter and safer, like Kingshouse to Kinlochleven over the Devil’s Staircase, a route busy with people doing the West Highland Way. It’s a pain as I’d have to get the bus back, but doable in an afternoon.
However, I’m annoyed with myself about my fears. For considering scrapping an exciting and challenging walk because it’s unknown to me and I will be alone. Possibly that last part is the crux of it. I’ve written about walking on my own before and I do enjoy it, especially as I am normally too out of puff to talk much when I’m walking up steep hills. But when you are alone, you can feel more vulnerable. If I’m not sure what way to go, there’s no-one to consult for directions. If I fall, then no-one will hear me scream…
These fears are natural and understandable: I am made of tough stuff but I’m no robot. I’m letting my insecurities rule my logic and potentially depriving myself of a great experience. It’s also great Spartan Training. The mountain won’t be empty anyway. One of the reviews I read on Walk Highlands (a great resource for info on walks all over Scotland) by another solo female walker relates how she met and talked to people the whole way through the walk. It’s not a foolhardy enterprise I’m undertaking, just another challenge that I am more than able for. And if it feels dangerous, I can always turn back.
Perhaps I should take a leaf out of my son’s book. He was with me at the gym yesterday; part of the workout involved box jumps. This means you stand in front of a 24 inch box (or higher if you are braver) and jump squarely onto it with two feet together. It’s harder than that may sound. At the end of the session, he was messing about on the boxes and I encouraged him to try and jump it, using a few stacked up barbell weights to stand on to give him some extra height. After he did it the first time, he insisted that I remove a weight to make the jump greater, then again and again until he jumped from standing on only one weight. Each one is about 2-3 inches in width, so I reckon that’s a 21 inch jump.
What impressed me was his fearlessness and his commitment to improvement: to make it more challenging for himself each time, and thus get better. And he is only five years old. I want me some of that attitude. Give it a few years and he’ll be thrashing the arse out of the Spartan Race. Maybe if the worst comes to the worst, I can get him to do it for me.
Until next time,