I am struggling to walk properly today. The map on the back of the t-shirt may explain a little why. 32km hilly run in the Dales.
What a fantastic event. The DT30 (one of the Dales Trail Series events) is a beautiful but brutal offroad run, taking in some steep ascents, mud, bogs and outstanding scenery. Superbly well organised and fully waymarked route.
The atmosphere at the start of these events is amazing. Nothing electric or outstanding – just this gentle warm buzz in the air. It starts as you pull into the field (pretty much in the middle of nowhere) and a friendly marshal directs you to where you should park your car. As we get out the car, a bit of chat with the neighbouring vehicle owners and we wander to the little tent that’s been set up for registration. We are greeted my smiles, nods, “morning”s, by marshals and fellow runners alike. A real chilled and friendly vibe. There are pre-race nerves evident at the start line, but more in relation to the task ahead than of a competitive nature. The offroad/endurance/fell runners are a different breed. Some may be fighting the clock, or for position, but most are just running against themselves, the hills and Mother Nature – just getting to the end is enough. This is why, throughout the course of the event, runners will hold gates open for each other, chat to you like they’ve known you for years, move out of your way so you can pass them, saying “well done” as you do. People offering each other salt tablets, sweets, words of encouragement and friendly banter, sharing the pain of cramps/swearing a lot and laughing while doing the “meadow shuffle” for the last 3km of the race. Such a large bunch of good humoured folk you could not meet elsewhere.
It’s doing events like this, challenging myself physically and mentally, that keeps me sane. Stepping outside of my comfort zone makes me stronger, and more able to deal with everyday life. I’ve understood for a long time that my mental health is improved through exercise, but this is so much more than that. To spend nearly 4.5 hours in tough running conditions, you have to battle all sorts of head farts, and when your body is screaming at you to stop and walk, you have to persuade it it’s a good idea to just keep going. [Running is such an analogy to everyday life. When things get tough, you just have to struggle along for a while.] And when you cross that finish line, having accomplished the task, the elation is second to none. Post race buzz is epic. The sense of achievement being long lasting. Endorphins like no other.
I used to like being comfortable. Comfortable life, comfortable job.
Life is so much more interesting when you step outside of your comfort zone. There is a whole other exciting world out there. Scary at times, but never dull.
Next on the list of this years challenges; my first Half Iron, the DT40 and then Lakes in a Day.
I choose courage over comfort.