This is the end of the year round up and review of 2012 (it’s a big one). The kit review will follow but for now, I thought I would have a recap of the last year for me on the 10MillionMetres campaign and also mention some truly cool people and organisations that have made this year the best so far.
I started the year with trepidation and, to be honest, a little uncertainty as to my future in running. The reason was that the previous October 2011, I had returned from South Africa with a severely broken ankle from competing in the Otter Trail Race. I would like to mention at this point that I think that the Otter is such a special and amazing race that I have already made noises to both Mark and John Collins of Magnetic South, (http://www.magneticsouth.net) to undertake the Otter again in 2013! Fingers crossed.
However, (and getting back to the point) the ankle was a mess. In fact, I did about as good a job of messing it up short of stopping myself from running ever again. To say that I was lucky is an understatement. So January came around and thanks to the attention of the guys at Active-VIII (http://www.active-viii.co.uk) I was making a sterling recovery. This was put to the test when I undertook the Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon 10K race. Nervous is a word I have used recently but with little training and a newly healed ankle, I was unsure. I needn’t have worried as the ankle coped amazingly well and with a few stretches and bit of walking and some fantastic running, I made it home in 54 minutes as I recall. Not bad but for the dystonia.
Buoyed by the success of Dubai and the reception from the media at the event, I pushed forward with organizing the Trans-America Challenge (TAC). This was difficult. Not only was I trying to initially organise the event on my own but the sheer epic size of the TAC meant I was constantly thinking that I had I bitten off more than I could chew. Eventually, others came on board. Some stayed and some gave up and some even advised me to wait another year. Of those who stayed the course and gave support help, sponsorship and general belief in the whole crazy plan, mention has already been made in my last blog. However, it is clear to me now that getting an event as big as the TAC on the road needed the help of some very special people and organisations and to those, I am extremely grateful.
So will all the hubbub of the TAC going on, I received an invitation to compete in the Winchester PPP. This is a top race. Short and to the point, the 20K bike, 5K run and 2K paddle, was just what I needed; irrespective of the flooding. I even did well up the hills on the TT bike and, so I was told, came in the top 10 on the bike.
Warmer weather brought out the wetsuit and off to the lake I went to duel with my fear of water. Combining this with sessions of NLP with David Brown came in seriously handy across the USA. Thanks David. Mixing training with family time is hard but incredibly important, as last December my little baby boy was born. Priorities change and decisions are always made, changed and then changed again with a baby in your life and I’m grateful to the whole of my family for their support.
July rolled around and training was in top gear. At this point with a September start penned in, I was being advised by Mimi Anderson to think about planning some rest into the schedule and rest is what I got. With less than a month and a half to go before leaving for the USA, several things happened which made me question whether I could go on with the TAC. The first was pretty much most of my, then support crew, couldn’t make it. This left both Larry Watson and me, to run around and make calls to find someone, somebody that could take a month or more out of their lives and at the last minute too. Find them we did; Sharky came on board first, followed by Janelle, Sean and lastly David. I knew I was going to be in safe hands as they are a fantastic crew and respect and thanks is given to both them and their families, employers etc., for volunteering their time and work so well together. Thanks to Joe and Phil from the BBC and the One Show team for being so accommodating. Cheers guys!
The second thing that happened, around the same time, was that I came down with a serious chest infection. The type that’s hard to shift and get rid of. Training came to an abrupt and immediate stop. I was becoming really worried as to whether I would make it to the USA at all. So, I have to thank Aurélie for distracting me with the news that we were moving home too. To the South of France no less! So four days before I left for the USA, the contents of the house, my family and most of my worldly possessions were relocated. Leaving me encamped at my mum’s with expedition kit filling every available corner (or so it seemed). Thanks Mum!
I won’t go into the details of the TAC, as I am trying to write a book and wouldn’t want to spoil it for you. Save to say, it was and still remains the hardest challenge to date and “epic” as a word does not quite come close to describing it. I’ll leave the judgment to you when you’ve read the book. In the meantime, you can recap at my video wall : http://www.alexflynn.co.uk/the-video-wall/
One month after leaving the states, I am in familiar territory. It was the 11th of November and I’m on the start line to complete the Athens Classic marathon. The people were welcoming and supportive of my 10MillionMetres cause and I even had the pleasure of meeting Barefoot Bill, from Boston. It was a hot and hilly course that, unfortunately, claimed the life of another competitor during the race, which was ahead of me. I felt pretty good. I think that this was because I had rested a little bit but still the thought that I was biting off a little too much too soon after the 3256 miles of the TAC, was rattling around in my head. I pushed the thought aside and got on with enjoying the run. My race splits were good and, though I was a little fast, for the first half, I was on form. But fatigue came and reasserted its presence. The legs slowly turned to lead at around 14 miles in to the race and I knew that my planned time was slipping. It was a grind to get from there to the end but the finish (finally), came and I even managed a sprint. Thanks to Thanos, Panos and the guys at the Athens office of the deVere Group.
I should have seen it coming. Others told me that I was pushing it too hard and when it did…I felt it.
Shanghai was amazing. What a melting pot!! What history and, again, the people were cheering, smiling and supportive of all the runners.
There were about 26,000 runners, initially made up of all three races; 3K race, half marathon and full marathon, which made it interesting when the competitors had to funnel into half the width of the road to cross the chip timing mats. Good fun though. All seemed fine when I started. The weather at the start was cold and the rain was horrendous but I felt ok. A little cold and tired perhaps but that was down to the early hour, the weather and jet-lag. What I didn’t realise was that I must have picked up a cold virus on route to Shanghai and the result was that two thirds of the way around I developed a pain in the chest, like intercostal pain. I did a quick diagnosis (while running) and decided that it was early stage Pericarditis (having had this once before in 2009 – it fitted the symptoms). So I significantly slowed the pace and ran/walked, keeping my breathing calm and heart rate low. There and then I decided that I was going to finish (one of my more stupid decisions), as I believed that I could do so, even if it meant walking (which did not cause pain). So finish I did, and in less than five hours. I highly recommend both marathons (Greece and Shanghai). They’re great fun, well organised and the medals are suitable impressive.
PLEASE NOTE: On a serious point – I do not advocate that anyone runs or trains with chest pain. If you have pains in your chest, please, please, please stop and get medical help immediately. I for one will be taking this advice in future and hope you heed it as well.
I am now on the mend and taking a well-earned break. I was right about the Pericarditis and have been told to rest, rest, and rest. So I’m taking my doctors advice and resting as much as I can over the forth-coming month and I’m getting better and stronger everyday. Promise not to do anything until I get the all clear …honestly!! That’s a promise!
There are some stunning races and plans for a couple of nasty events in the 2013/2014 pipeline. So please keep your eyes on my 10MillionMetres Facebook page or my twitter at alexflynn01.
Thanks must be made to all of my sponsors and particularly the deVere Group, who (without whom) 2012 would not have been the year that it was for 10MillionMetres!!
Huge thanks to the following people in the quest to raise donations for Team 10MillionMetres
- Mimi Anderson for breaking world records left, right and centre and for being simply marvelous at the same time;
- Danny Lavender – afflicted by Parkinson’s for over seven years and pushing the boundaries each day at a time. Top bloke; and
- Maria Galvan – for running her first half!
If there is anyone I have forgotten. Please let me know. If you’d like to be part of Team 10MillionMetres, please email me (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Lastly, thanks to you and everyone who has and continues to follow and support me and my 10MillionMetres cause. It makes a difference receiving the encouragement and messages and donations!! So please keep them coming
Wishing you all a Happy New Year! Keep moving!!!