Mini Big Greek Adventure
Life is a daring adventure of nothing at all….
‘Courage over comfort’ Brene Brown
I was thinking about this when cycling (through fear and doubt for my double charity challenge). Courage always comes with fear, with change and growth, for we need courage for this. When things are comfortable we don’t need courage. So although fear and doubts maybe scary, they are often the window to our growth and happiness. Have a think about it….?
I’ve been quiet about it all as it’s been a complete roller coaster. From speaking at the Encephalitis Society members meeting in October when they asked me, saying I can’t ride my bike. To cleaning my bike from 5 years ago when the weils Encephalitis turned my world inside out to trying to ride and run.
I’ve done a dance back and forth since January to get to this point. Running my fastest 10km since 2013, and having my ‘most challenging’ weeks of neurological healing. It’s certainly been a case of adapt, enjoy, pause, strength, flow, fear, courage, growth. I feel vulnerable sharing as i remember a trauma medic saying, you can probably heal for 5 yrs then you will know where you’re at. I’m not ‘at’ where I believe I can be, so the journey continues with hope regardless of time.
So my charity challenge and adventure began last weekend to Rhodes in Greece.
Part 1 – Rhodes Marathon
Part 2, The Tour of Yorkshire Sportive… a true mental & physical test
24hrs into the charity run adventures and I was still on route to Roads to Rhodes marathon… read on…
The taxi driver pops hotel address in sat nav, and we end up down a dirt track behind the airport with three wild dogs ‘attacking’ the car… he locks us in and has a panic attack, praying in Greek for his 3 daughters lives, I try to calm him in my non Greek & he says we will both be attacked by homeless men and die Fortunately helping him breathe and we find the main road to the hotel….
Where the check in guy says I’ve come at vampire hour and takes him an hour, the room is beautiful…. but it’s new hotel and the lights don’t switch off, call vampire man, put some clothes back on first (don’t want to scare him), vampire man says maintenance arrive at 5am, it’s now 1am… so he cuts the fuse…. maintenance arrive at 5am (3am UK time:-) to finish the room….
I check out & now await (with a circus beatboxing crew (yes really?!), very cool yet ‘beat’ is strong) the bus to the airport to fly to Rhodes, part 2 travel.
I always say, trust the taper, adapt to the circumstances & believe in yourself. I think I will be practising this 100% . I know marathon times for many are so important but I’ve been thinking about this…. why does a certain time mean you are good enough or not? I get the goal, I help people with this, I get the disappointment, yet please never let it sabotage your enjoyment, journey, leanings and achievement. I have to accept to finish tomorrow will be truly amazing (side ramble!)
So Rhodes Marathon was initially my ‘warm up’ for Maserti Tour de Yorkshire . Aliki Chrysochou my Encephalitis model of healing inspiration warned it would be hot… um, yes, currently 28 degrees, fully warmed up
Yet this is little story is a snap shot of all our lives, the chaos, the beauty & fears of us all. So whilst I feel vulnerable, sad, happy, excited, hopefully, strong, I feel an overwhelming sense of gratitude to make the most of NOW. For that’s all we ever truly have & our thoughts are our choice,
Having easily returned to Athens airport (the direct route) I boarded the flight to Rhodes with anticipation. A happy taxi driver took me to registration for the marathon, where I was greeted with a big cheer! So much fun. My number was 4100, only 193 were entered into the marathon, the rest were made up in the family 5km, 10km and half marathon. I wondered if there was a reason for this…. Checking into the Savoy Hotel another happy man told me he would recommend 10km. 10km is good for you, 42km not so good…. little did I know.
I slept better than the night with the vampire man! Yet not as good as usual for me, dreaming I missed the start several times. And then replication dreams of when I was sprayed with rohypnol by some badnits whilst sleeping in Italy (that’s another story!). I’ve not had these dreams before, but I think always think it’s good as the unconscious mind is processing things. So as the sun rose like a golden disc, I quietly got myself ready.
I had done my mental strength mind maps in great depth and written a clear strategy for the what if’s, along with my models of excellence. I recommend this to all my clients, specific people who inspire you for the goal in mind. For this run I chose Aliki (my encephalitis role model of healing and possibility), Susie Chan & Sophie Rawlings for sheer strength and inspiration (completing the Marathon de Sable and then London in such heat, incredible) and finally Jenni Falconer, for energy and strength (running London marathon and presenting her crazy early radio breakfast show). 4 amazing ladies to inspire me, with 4 clear goals and reasons for each 10km (you can read more here…)
It’s funny how our instinct gives us insights and we have to judge if it’s intuition and wisdom, or fear of what’s ahead. Probably a combination of both. I think the sad death of Matt only 3.7 miles from the finish of the London Marathon gave me a huge reminder and caution of the heat. I’m always cautious yet this highlighted the important of respecting the marathon (and any sporting event) and adapting your goal whilst listening to your body. So my race plan and complete focus was to finish, enjoy the amazing route, raise money for charity and finish feeling good (especially as I was travelling on my own). So as the gun fired, off we went, and I soon realised I would need to adapt even further as the sun rose, I scanned for a cloud or breeze, nope, they were on holiday in the UK!
The route was beautiful and calm, with fishermen a plenty sitting around the sea edge, dogs on scooters with their humans which made me smile, and cats sat onto of bins. I decided to adopt a walk run plan, and for the final 10km to walk the whole distance. I have never made this decision before. Of course, moments of what will people think fleeted through my mind. But the more I coach people, I realise the importance of enjoyment, completion and experiences. Times are great, competition is great, I love this. I’m hugely competitive and strive to achieve more. Yet equally there is a balance and everything coming together. Learning how to adapt and be okay with this is empowering (I can help you if you want). The course felt hotter than Sierra Leone marathon in places, and the sun was relentless with no shade at all.
My fitbit which I was using to monitor my heart rate died (maybe this was a sign!) So my walking decision was not based on feeling ‘bad’ in anyway, it was more in awareness and respect of the heat, the interesting taper & the upcoming bike ride. I had a wonderful ‘picnic’ walking along, hydrated well with nuun tablets and smiled at the wonderful Greek atmosphere, support and beauty of the route.
As I came to the last corner with cheers like I had won the race (pretty sure I was nearly last!) I jogged with joy across the finish line. My medal around my neck, a buzz of people as the 5 & 10km were finished too I saw the Red Cross tent. I thought, I’ll just have a seat in the shade before I find my bag and let everyone know I’ve done it! Many people even on the 5 and 10km seemed to be suffering from heat exhaustion and much sickness. I had none of this, but remember several faces peering at me, blood pressure monitors etc and then I found myself on a stretcher in an ambulance…. I know this is random, but the only thought I had was if this is it I’m going to raise so much money for amazing charities, I hope everyone knows how much I love and value them, and my houndy is always looked after.
I remember being aware a few hours later of being in a hospital with some more faces around me….. to cut, I am completely fine, and the Rhodes Hospital (where I found out I ended up) were completely amazing. The place was calm, quiet and respectful. Of course, after I guess 4-5 hour (as I had nothing but my very wet run clothes) I thought I felt totally fine and was ready to escape. But this was not allowed, as I had no idea where I was, or any money, escape was not an option. I was moved to a room with a lovely UK couple, Jackie (who had severe heat exhaustion) & Lee her husband, and a greek guy with a wonderful, attentive mother and family. Both were on double saline drips, and the guy had done the 10km which I think puts things in perspective. I didn’t have a saline drip, hydration bloods ‘very good’ (secret high five, as it’s really important value of mine to take care of myself, for the events team, and as a good role for my clients). So I wondered what had happened, but I don’t speak any Greek… shameful really.
The long and short, as my brother would say, was my heart had a ‘funny moment’, bloods, ECG and Ultrasounds with a very wise, old Greek Cardiologist were taken, of which I remember the last. I feel incredibly lucky, yet weirdly really well as I didn’t run hard, and fuelled well. So marathon wise, body muscles etc feel good…. Yet I am very mindful of what ‘I don’t know’ happened. I think irratic heart rates can be induced with physical stress, emotional stress and travel, all of which I have had over the last couple of weeks. There is nothing more to be done, yet a mindfulness that even when we have adapted and made the best plans, we still must expect the unexpected and adapt once again!
I made it back to the hotel late that evening, where my Greek receptionist friend welcomed me, saying I told you 10km is good, 42km not so, and always use a lift my friend. Followed by, you must go around the Old City tonight, it’s so beautiful, don’t rest and miss it. Vamos! I smile.
We get one life, we get one chance.
The cardiologist was happy, saying we don’t get to choose when we die, but we do get to choose when we live. You are still alive, well done, goodbye. I loved their simplicity, care and practical advice. No dramas, no escape routes, no fear. I cannot thank Rhodes Marathon and Hospital Team enough, the event organisation was incredible and my care wonderful. And I can only thank you all greatly, from the centre of my heart (no pun intended!) for your donations, support and kindness, sorry to worry you all! If I had been awake or had a phone I would have posted a finisher’s photo and left the story until I came home….
But the story is part of our journey, and I hope by sharing it brings you hope, strength, smiles and happiness. I can 100% recommend Rhodes marathon (but only if you like hot routes!), but would still recommend you go and explore, it’s beautiful and I barely touched the surface.
I’m going to see how I go, l definitely rested and refuelled the most I ever have done post marathon! As for Part 2 and the bike challenge, I am mindful of the week I’ve had, and will decide later this week (it will be the shorter option if I do decide to do it) But as the cardiologist said, choose to live now. Fear and courage, patience and strength, love and purpose.
If you would like to donate and support the Encephalitis Society & 4 other little charities, it would mean a huge amount to them and I, and thank YOU all for your incredible support, it means so much.