So my race story starts 5 days before, when I woke up with a tickle in my throat. I had three days of feeling rough as. I think the combination of stress with the logistics (taking my mum and kids) combined with the psychological pressure of a new distance (which I never seem to cope well with) just got to me. That and in all honesty having just not been going to bed early enough and resting efficiently enough recently.
So I took three days before the race off work, rested, then felt slightly better so decided to race. I threw a random bunch of stuff together (which I thought was “adequately labelled” ). Looking at a big pile of stuff in the hallway the night before the race- stuff every where, I looked at my mum and said- this is not how Kilian Jornet prepares for a race. Mum said “And does he have children? No.” (more…)
Curiously, immediately after the race I was feeling unsure about the upcoming race in Sept which this one was part of training for…
However, by the time I got into my bed two hours later, I could not wait to do it all again. I reckon all the springboards, ahem I mean, people I spoke with along the way, have probably also signed up for their next one by now or are thinking about which one to do.
I messaged my friend when I got into bed and said- “why is it that you brain goes arrghhh that hurt like hell! Let’s do another one?” and he replied- “endorphins”.
This recipe is a nice healthier substitute for chicken nuggets. I tend to make the cakes a big bigger, small-hand held size. The dip is vegetarian, but you could omit it or make a vegan version (with vegan yoghurt and cream).
3 large or 4 medium sweet potatoes, peeled, chopped & steamed. (I usually steam them in the morning then leave draining, covered in a colander to make into cakes and bake later).
Gluten-free flour (around 2 cups, varies on desired consistency )
1-2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce (most contain fish however Henderson’s Relish is vegan, as is mushroom ketchup from Geo Watkins @ Waitrose)
I met Dini aboard her family’s home and sailing vessel “Happy Dancer” to find out more about how this young mother managed to sail, travel, have a career, a family and keep everything afloat, literally.
It was a hot and sunny but breezy September afternoon. We sat up on the deck in shade, our children played quietly below. It was peaceful and the air fresh and salty. Dini cut us up a winner of a Maltese watermelon and I felt I would need convincing not to sell all my belongings and buy a boat after this interview.
Dini is 31, an Australian who has travelled a lot (10 countries in her first 18 years) and whenever by the sea she worked on boats. Dini began teaching Yoga at 25, then met and married Pablo Martinez an accountant whom she ‘trained up’ in sailing skills by buying a share in a boat docked in Sydney harbour with a dream one day of setting sail in their own. They have two sons: Noah 4 and Gael 2.5 years (at time of interview).
Me (M): The first question I must ask Dini, is, why this lifestyle choice, and why now?
Dini: (D): I have always sailed. Since I could walk, my grandfather taught me. I have always been adventurous. My original plan was to buy a really old boat with friends and do it up. For me it was always an idea centring on community. No one else at that time seemed ‘on board’ with this plan so eventually I found myself married with an 18-month old son and another on the way. All our friends were getting mortgages and we just didn’t feel ready for that yet. We wanted to make our own little world and be cut off from some of the things we liked less about western lifestyles.
When I found I was pregnant with Gael we felt the time was right. Before that we were worried our older son Noah might feel lonely if we travelled but now our family felt complete we knew it was time. We sold many of our belongings and gave away the rest. This wasn’t challenging for us, it felt very liberating.
We chose Happy Dancer because of Moody (the brand’s) good reputation as a safe but also comfortable blue water cruiser. It’s built stronger than most boats, that was the important thing. The fact that it was already equipped with solar panels and wind generator was a plus.
Running New York marathon in the same year, a life time achievement maybe…
Running both and the distance between the two?
Patrick Sweeney reckons pretty much any of us can do this. It’s just a matter of getting into the rhythm of things.
Me (M)- What are you up to tomorrow?
Patrick (P)- Tomorrow I’ll be flying to Chicago to meet with a friend “Barefoot Alex” then onto the Kenyan Embassy to meet some top Kenyan marathoners. Alex and I’ll then pick up a torch and run from Chicago to New York and then run the New York Marathon.
After a short break in the series, I have subtitled the remaining two interviews this way, as I wish to convey the under-exploited potential of the human race.
Several years ago, my university friend drew my attention to the fact that many of our contemporaries were living in “self-created prisons”. Luckily, I had already found running as a way of breaking free from the library, or life at my desk, but I understood what she meant.
At a time when we should have been enjoying limitless freedoms, people were living in boxes: a whole world where opportunities outside their windows were left untouched and unexplored, whilst hours were whiled away watching escapist TV, playing on games consoles, or just generally making every effort possible to disengage from the wider world. This habit only worsened as jobs and families became the norm for that generation.
The notion of adventure seemed too much of an exertion for an already burned-out mind… No wonder the rate of mental illness seemed so disproportionately high…We thought we were happy in our bubbles, but we were scared to break-out of the comfort zone, and that’s a different thing entirely.
The following two interviews taught me that the life of your dreams is possible in the here and now (and here’s the cool bit for me) even with a couple of kids in tow In fact, setting examples for next generations: that we don’t have to live a life of optional limitation, is pretty much a purposeful existence in and of itself.
It doesn’t have to be all rat race and rush hours, it can be sunsets, beer miles and saying “Yes” to opportunities…
Meet Dini Martinez and Patrick Sweeney! Patrick’s interview, regarding his adventure starting tomorrow, will be up later today, so check back for that
M: “Winging it’s” my thing Remember the blog I sent you on minimalist training for Spartathlon?
N: In fact, if I look back at my training for ironman, my best time was last year, where I came top 10% in the world in my age group, on 12 hours training a week, that is much less than people who get those finishing times. The thing is, when you are running 250k, you have to get used to the discomfort, the muscle breakdown, the kidneys in clearing the waste production, there is no shortcut.
M: This race is in the footsteps of Phidippides, he dropped dead?
N: Well, yes, whether he had the right training and nutrition, who knows? I do know that 300 people run this a year, 50% of them finish, and as far as I know, not many of them drop dead. Not to worry
M: What have people said about this challenge? Other than the usual “are you mad”?
N: I get that a lot, most people can’t fathom running 246k, particularly when you live on an island that is 17k long! (more…)
I met Nathan for a cup of tea, a week ahead of his Spartathlon attempt. I wanted to know more about this family man, business man, and arguably Malta’s best ultra-athlete. Spartathlon is one of the most difficult ultras in the world (the only challenges that Nathan really takes part in nowadays, alongside his own record-breaking creations). Spartathlon is a 246km (153 mile) road race from Athens to Sparta. It started in 1983 and takes place 25-26 Sept 15. The goal of all participants is to finish under the cut-off time of 36 hours. Battling extreme weather conditions and strict cut-offs for the first 100km, it’s not only the distance that will be challenging. It is a stripped back race, no MP3 players allowed. Little support and only basic food is given. Up until last year, Nathan was the CEO of Malta’s largest non-profit organisation that helps people with disabilities. He stopped to maintain his role as president of the foundation. He set up his own business which helps people/ companies with executive coaching and business development. He is also heavily involved in foundations and charities for young people with disabilities and health problems. Nathan has been working and volunteering in the charity sector since 2000 and has raised hundreds of thousands of euros for good causes. His latest endeavours are as director of the Lino Spiteri Foundation, working to create jobs for persons with a disability on a national level. Me (M): Many athletes with families describe their lives as a daily ‘balancing act’, would you agree that finding a sport/life balance is trickier after kids?(more…)
In 2009 Maria Walton, a marathon coach from Arizona, was gifted with a copy of “Born to Run” by a friend. Shortly after reading it, Maria sent Micah True (the elusive and reluctant hero of the book) a Facebook message for some advice on ultra-marathons.
He responded almost immediately,
“It’s not my book. If it’s an autograph you are after, you’re asking the wrong guy.”
Maria replied: “No, no, I’m not a fan. I just want some advice on how to run an ultra.”
“Oh,” he wrote back. “You are going to run a little slower, run a bit longer. And that’s it really. I don’t train, I eat some oatmeal, grab a coffee, get out the door and run.”
Micah, an American ex-boxer who gave away everything he owned, moved to the mysterious Barrancas del Cobre of Mexico to emulate the methods of the Raramuri, and ran ultra distances there carrying no gear, just a plastic water bottle and a $8 timex watch. (more…)