This last week has been quiet. Training has been progressing, notwithstanding the debilitating effects of my flu jab at the beginning of the week. However, aside from planning the trans-USA challenge I have been learning about patience. I’m sure that those who know me would describe me as impulsive, stubborn, and occasionally single-minded. However, I believe that recent events have highlighted that I can be, at times, more patient than I thought possible.
This line of thought started, I believe, on my arrival home from the Otter Trail Race earlier this last October. I knew that it may take some time, with my injury, to get back to full fitness and ability. This has not meant that I would forsake every effort to get back to racing as quickly as possible, but it’s more an awakening to the fact that it would take effort across a longer period of time and that there would be no quick bounce back. Considering this I’ve realised that the same thing occurred to me back in 2005 and I recall that I exuded patience…albeit on a slight learning curve.
Once a year there is a race called the Hairy Legs Challenge. This race takes place in the gorgeous countryside around Goring on Thames, in Oxfordshire, UK. The area is outstandingly beautiful and has more Trail than you can shake a stick at. The race is a duathlon, comprising a 5k run with a 20k bike ride with a 5k run at the end. No great shakes you might think. However, it’s the terrain the makes the challenge a challenge.
I would like to say at this point that I have the dubious honour of being the guy who changed the bike route. It was 2005 and I was a week away from running the Three Peaks Challenge when I took part in the Hairy Legs as a pre-Three Peaks warmer. The 5K run went well and transition onto the bike was smooth; with a quick exit towards the Ridgeway. What was not so smooth was my descent down the Ridgeway, the then challenging bike route. The Ridgeway is a prehistoric road stretching over 85 miles from Ivanhoe Beacon and ending near Avebury in Wiltshire (which I ran back in 2009). The track is rough and in places rutted; sometimes extremely so. What I failed to appreciate on my rapid descent, at over 40 miles an hour, was the small but not insignificant sign on the left, which clearly stated the words “bear left”. Well, the red mist was down that day and I was determined to finish strong. So, shortly after passing the small but not insignificant sign I hit the drainage pipes graciously put there to preserve the road from the deluge of water it receives when it rains. I made it over the first two pipes but the third stopped my bike short. I was thrown from the bike and somersaulted as I covered the twenty metres before landing; narrowly missing breaking my neck but triumphantly separating my shoulder, breaking my collarbone along with most of my rib cage and puncturing both my lungs. They airlifted me…as they said I would die if taken by road.
After returning from hospital, there were weeks of frustration and inactivity. Boredom got to me and I even tried to do press-ups within a month and a half but my shoulder was just too crunchy. Finally, after many failed attempts to do crunchy press-ups, I learned to be patient and that great achievements (like getting well) take small steps. Returning to the present, my injury in the Otter Trail Race has again made me realise that patience is needed and that, although I am back running very short distances, with diligence and a little time I will be able to cover the distances that I’m used to.
So why can I not apply the same patience to the imminent arrival of my third son? This week has seen both myself and Aurélie at the hospital with all the right indications that my boy is ready to be born. However, the midwives have alternative views and sent us home. I have patience. It truly is a virtue, but one I am finding hard to find…. Endeavour to persevere is what I keep telling myself. Endeavour to persevere.