How challenge 7 didn't happen

Updated: Apr 26


Or how a recent social media post hit a nerve and I listened to my ‘inside view’


So, what does that heading even mean?


Well my seventh challenge of 50 was going to be a 10-mile race called the Cabbage Patch, so called as it starts and ends at the Cabbage Patch pub in Twickenham (if you are into your rugby you will know the establishment well!)


Another race bib had been transferred to a friend who was now going to join me on the race, thanks to Celeste of Backpackers who was on pacing duties at the Oxford Half Marathon on Sunday 13th October, so we were all good to go. A nice 10-mile riverside run taking in Richmond and Kingston bridges as well as plenty of towpaths, so views were guaranteed.


However, lurking in the back of my head was this thought that I shouldn’t even start this race let alone think about finishing it.


Several posts from the guys and gals at ChasingProjects (follow them on insta or check them out at www.chasingprojects.com) – Architects of Wellbeing – had hit a nerve.



ChasingProjects

Their posts had been about listening to your body – your body is telling you stuff all day long, but we very rarely tap into it all the time. That gut reaction we talk about so readily is inbuilt in our bodies for a reason, yet so frequently we override it because we think we know better, we think with our heart, or we think with our head and just dismiss what the most awesome computer in the world, the human body, is trying to tell us.


So, an example of this could be:


Your inside view could be ‘I need a break’


Your outside view could be ‘breaks are for wimps, just keep going!’


Now in the run up to challenge 5, the first time I had run an ultra I had listened quite acutely to my inside view, which was telling me that I was nervous, and anxious about running 55km for the first time, yet it was also telling me I was as prepared as I could be, that I had planned things well and all I needed to do was follow my race plan and I was capable of achieving my goal – running 55km! and guess what, I did it (although I did walk up the hills, and there were quite a few of them, I am not that mad!).


So here comes the deal breaker - listening to my ‘inside view’ had allowed me to overcome some fears and achieve something positive.


My inside view was now saying ‘take a break’ ‘you need a rest’ but my outside view had a mega phone and was shouting ‘you can’t pull out, you will be letting people down’ ‘you can’t pull out as you are supposed to be inspiring others to get off their butt and be active’ ‘you can’t pull out as then you would have failed’, ‘you can’t pull out, you are raising funds for a charity – the whole point of 50 at 50 if that you bloody challenge yourself and don’t quit when the going gets a little tough’



If there had been a video of what was going on in my head it would have been a boxing match, in the Blue Corner was the inside view and in the Red Corner was the outside view - both just jabbing away at each other, each corner fighting to be heard the loudest.



Now add to this internal boxing match an element of grief and guilt. Imagine the ‘outside view’s‘ gloves being twice the size of those of the inside view and I was in a whole different arena.


So, guilt because I felt by pulling out of race and challenge I was letting down my dad and uncle. The two people who had inspired this challenge and who I was so tirelessly trying to impress even though they aren’t here to see it, and grief because I miss them, and they were so courageous and graceful in their fight against cancer that surely I could get myself out of bed, and across London in the pouring rain to Twickenham to run a bloody race. I mean that was simple wasn’t it.


As I try to practice listening to my inside view the hardest thing to do is to block out that outside noise, that white noise that grows in intensity if you let it.


So, who won? The red corner or the blue corner? Well I think the title of this blog gives the answer away, but deciding not to run the Cabbage Patch 10 miler was a really big deal for me, and even on Sunday morning, as I lay under the duvet giving myself the lie-in and rest that my body had said it needed, there was still that outside noise saying ‘Really???’ .. I had just made the decision not to listen to it quite so intently.



So, challenge 7, didn’t happen when planned but that’s OK, as Challenge 7 has been reborn as the Supernova race in the Olympic Park on Friday 18th October, come and join me if your ‘inside view’ says it is a good idea.

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