So let's recap, last time I wrote I was 48 hours away from heading to Antarctica to start my challenge of running 7 marathons in 7 days on 7 continents. I was about to start a journey that would see me running 183 miles in 168 days around the world travelling from Antarctica to Chile to Miami to Madrid to Marrakesh to Dubai and finally finishing in Sydney. I am very pleased to report that I did it but in all honesty it hasn't fully sunk in yet. After a year's build up I still can't really believe it's happened but my sore knee and inability to walk down stairs properly without looking like a fool are a constant reminder that indeed it did!
The whole experience was amazing but brutal at the same time. I had naively thought I would be able to regularly update my blog after every race but it felt like we were almost constantly on the move and in the end I was so tired I was reduced to only being able to do very basic functions. I thought I would get some sleep on the plane in between marathons but at most I got 4hrs and in the end I spent more time running than I did sleeping over the course of the week which definitely took it's toll.
It seems my training plan worked and my body just about held up but like I Said I was ill prepared for the lack of sleep and recovery time. Mentally I stayed just about strong enough to succeed, I definitely questioned my ability to finish each marathon, even each lap but the thought of quitting never entered my mind. I backed myself from the very beginning of all of this to finish and I'm pleased I proved myself right although it does lead to a slightly anti-climatic feeling.
I've learnt a lot over the whole process, mainly I can do anything I put my mind too. My boundaries of what is possible have shifted, my definition of tired has changed and the confidence in myself has grown massively. I've learnt I need to get better at asking for and accepting help, you can't do something like this without support. I've also discovered that I truly love exercise, I'm inherently lazy and more often than not inclined to do absolutely nothing. I've used training for marathons and ultras including this challenge partly as a distraction from life and partly as a means to make me exercise. But the realisation that I do in fact really enjoy it has inspired me to do more because I want to, not just because I feel I have to. It was also a privilege to be around so many inspiring people, it's given me a real fire to do more and to improve my running.
I have a lot of people to thank, everyone who donated to the charity, to everyone for their messages of support, my friends family and work colleagues, Tom, everyone at Psycle and everyone involved in the world marathon challenge; the organisers, the volunteers, the support crews and my fellow runners.
I've been asked multiple times which one was the worst but they all threw up their own challenges from the wind in Antarctica, the lack of sleep in Miami, the hill in Madrid to the humidity in Sydney. Dubai was probably the hardest just because the temperatures were above 30C and as someone who melts in London when it hits 20 I was never going to be able to cope well with the desert! But as challenging as they all were, equally in some way I enjoyed them all and the sense of achievement at each finish line was huge.
So what's next? Well I have a tendency to use these challenges as a distraction from real life so I think I need to give it some time before signing up to anything else and work out what I really want to do. I also need to give my body some time to recover, I need to go back to basics to improve my strength and form so that as and when I do sign up for something I'm in the best possibly shape to give it a really good go. Though like I said my boundaries to what is possible have changed, if I can run a marathon on little sleep, food and having already run 3 or 4 in the previous days I can do anything, so watch this space!