Archive for October, 2013

Do better. Try harder. Go further.

27
Oct

My 2013 running year has been plagued with injuries; minor injuries (phew!) that coach Ian Corless (thank you!) assures me have been ‘sent to test me’. Well, I’ve been tested a-plenty. Time for the Injury Gods to go pick on someone else. Meanwhile, as I’ve spent the year taking two steps forward one back, lots of people have asked me how and why I’m still motivated, why I don’t stop running instead of waiting for my ‘next’ injury, how I can remain positive (mostly) when I’m constantly (it seems) on an uphill struggle with my fitness.

Easy! I simply look around me and steal all the best bits from friends, family and personal heroes. How, then, can I not be inspired to do better, try harder, go further?

My ultrarunning passion started as a dream several years ago as I perused an article on some runner called Scott Jurek (check out his book Eat and Run, too). The article made me sit up and pay attention. It was something about his mindset … his talk about the next race he planned to win, about the strategies he used to go faster, to go further, to explore the limits of the human body, to consistently shut out the little voices screaming ‘QUIT’ and ‘STOP’. His passion and mental strength were mesmeric and I couldn’t help but want to steal a little of that and see what I could do with it within my own private world.

So began a wonderful journey of discovery (culminating frequently in tears, tantrums and the occasional smatterings of pride). The ultrarunning legend Scott Jurek might have lit the spark but ultra-running success (i.e. crossing the finish line even when everyone has packed up and gone home!!) requires as much yin as it does yang. You can have the brightest spark but you have to be completely comfortable with the dark and the shadows, too. I learned that one hero is not enough. I took a more rigorous look and hey ho found all the resources and inspiration and motivation I needed in extremely close proximity and readily accessible. How had I missed this previously? Confession time: I must now admit that I am nothing more than a common thief. I STEAL inspiration if and when required! And if you’re reading this blog then I have probably stolen from you, too!

I owe my ultrarunning ‘reality’ to a certain Irish Aussie (you know who you are). It’s all very well to dream of saving the world, of having super powers and/or hitting headline news for whatever … so ultrarunning remained a dream until I connected on Facebook with an old school friend and discovered that here was a (relatively!!) ‘normal’ person – running these crazy distances. So ultra-running wasn’t JUST for the Jureks of this world. Of course, I now know that he’s not really ‘normal’ at all – but you get my drift. It was only after finding out that ‘regular’ human beings could participate in this craziness that I registered for my first race in an effort to go further.

If my school buddy was my confirmation that ‘regular’ people could chase dreams – others inspire me daily to try and keep my head in the right place and just bloody get on with it! The ‘how and why do you keep going’ bit relies heavily on your comfort with the afore-mentioned ‘darkness’ behind the sparks. For that I draw frequently on one lady’s incredible ‘humanity’ and loyalty and belief in what’s good and what’s right. When you have to spend hours in your own company training for 18-hour ultra races you need to be (reasonably) at peace with who you are! With my neverending room for improvement in this area this Ms W from Woodingdean is a fountain of wonderfulness who ceaselessly inspires me to … do better.

And when the going gets really tough? I think of the friend who has more grit and determination than anyone I know. I draw on what I’ve witnessed in her competitive career, hoping to steal a breath of whatever it is she has that gives her the strength to always ALWAYS find that bit of extra drive and depth of ‘digging’ into the abyss that is that hurt box – to find whatever is left in the human body to push a little further, a little faster, in order to cross that bloody elusive finish line. It’s humbling to witness when you know that your own best efforts have been ‘relatively’ pathetic in comparison. No, no, let’s not get into the ‘you must race to your own ability’ argument. I’m TELLING you that that kind of finishing ‘drive’ is something I am constantly chasing, which I am determined to find every time I hit that hurt box – and which I still allow to drift away each time it really matters. You know who YOU are, Mrs A. You inspire me every time to try harder.

And let’s not forget family – maybe the strongest inspiration of all. Facing down personal challenges would be impossible (for me) without daily motivation and support from husband and children and I am totally blessed that mine are the absolute best of the best and know me so incredibly well. And I can’t possibly write about my heroes and help without mentioning my beloved daughter’s thorough understanding of my mindset – the perfect example of tuning in to what’s needed: Whilst in a blur of tears during a race last year and amidst a thousand ‘comforting’ Facebook messages, Caitriona, my lovely daughter, stepped back from the platitudes and texted ‘Oh, suck it up, Mother. Stop crying in the bloody gym and get on with it!’ That’s the message that got me to the finish! Meanwhile, my husband refused to acknowledge my blubbering and instead just prompted me to get to the next fuel station, the next tree, the next marker … These are my true heroes – the people who just ‘get it’ – who get the fact that this is something that I simply needed to do! No explanations necessary.

So you asked where I get my inspiration. Now you know. From you! All of you!

Oh – and my ‘elite’ heroes? I had the absolute fortune and honour a couple of weeks ago to run in the presence of (I definitely won’t say ‘with’ haha) Scott Jurek, who was in the UK to speak at the Veg Fest. He was wearing a tee-shirt with his own slogan emblazoned on it: Pain Only Hurts! You can only win the most famous 100-mile trail race seven times in a row with a mindset like that. As a runner, how can you not feed off that?

Emelie Forsberg! She smashes records and finish lines with a permanent smile and you can’t but help share her thrill when you read her blogs about her passion for the mountains.

And Kilian Jornet. Wow! Doesn’t the title of his new book ‘Run or Die’ say it all? When people discover a passion, they will often make a list of books they want to read, races they want to run etc. When Kilian started trail racing he sat down and wrote a list of all the races he wanted to WIN! What d’you say to that? Not a lot. Kilian is currently the fastest man in the world on the trails and has won almost every race on that list. Much like Ben Ainsley has an open line of communication with the Gods of the Deep (I’m sure of it), Kilian Jornet appears to have exclusive access to the secrets of the mountains.

These are my inspiration to do better, try harder and go further.

So there! Now you know. My sources of inspiration are no longer a secret haha. So … who are yours? If you haven’t thought about it, then now’s the time. I think you’ll find a few surprises – and many will be so much closer to home than you originally thought. (Note: If I mentioned all my sources this post would be very VERY long!!!)

Draw from your friends, your family, your neighbours, your clients, your childhood romances, your teenage celebrity crushes, your adult heroes and from Mother N herself. It doesn’t matter where it comes from so long as it helps you take a step closer to being the person you want to be. See the hero in everyone. Find it, then let it inspire you … to do better, try harder and go further.

To cleat or, in my case, not to UNcleat

03
Oct

All new shiny bike is staring at me from the hallway. This is it! The last of my Ironman excuses unfortunately disappeared with the arrival of that all-important Ironman accessory – the bike! It’s very pretty  And all clean and gorgeous. I’ve been for a proper professional bike fit, too – and tried my best to look like I knew what I was doing but I don’t think he was fooled haha I think it was the two-minutes of failed effort before I managed to engage the cleats that gave me away!!

Never mind. If one is going to do stupid things, then one must put up with these small humiliations. ‘You’ll get used to them,’ the ever-patient Steve of Prestige Cycles tells me. ‘It’ll be worth it … It won’t take long …’

Well, I’ll tell you what didn’t take long: It didn’t take long to realise that my dreams of changing my name by deed poll to Amanda Pendleton Hyatt would have to be put off for a wee while. Cleats, Cleats, Glorious Cleats? Not bloody likely! Cleats! Pah! You lot out there with your ‘it just takes a bit of practice’ and ‘after a couple of tries it’ll become automatic’? You are so full of it!!!

Now, I’ll admit that at the ripe old age of 51 the speed of communication from brain to body is not what it used to be but this was a real wake-up call. I’m grateful to the youtube demo that said ‘Uncleat at least 25 times’ (gave me an initial goal) and I probably owe my life to the advice from many who said ‘Stick to grass until you’ve mastered it’!

25 times? Twenty-five? TWENTY-FIVE? Is it just me? Am I really that useless? I’ll be honest. I stayed on that grass and braked and uncleated 100+ times (in ‘batches’ of 25). All I can think is that millions of people use cleats. I cannot – surely – be the ONLY person on the planet who can’t get it?? Or maybe I am! Jeez, perhaps I AM completely useless. I certainly have the bruises to prove it. The upside is that I entertained MANY dog walkers – not one of whom, I might add, approached me to help me disentangle myself from my frequent prone position. I obviously looked like even more of an eejit than I felt haha

Of course, if you haven’t tried cleats, then you just can’t comment. Go try them! Go on! Dare ya! I mean, what’s the problem, eh? You simply twist your foot to release upon braking, right? But, I ask … BUT … do you uncleat at the bottom or the top? Which way do you lean? Did you remember to lean the direction of the uncleated foot? Every time? Did you uncleat before you braked – or at the same time? Or did you leave it too late? Or did you realise you’d forgotten and then panicked and then uncleated the wrong foot? Do you always uncleat the same side? Is that right or wrong? Should you be able to do both – in case of emergency stops?

Speaking of emergency stops …. Forget it! If my foot isn’t in the right place when I apply the brakes we are ALL totally screwed – no easy way to say it!! (Remember that next time you’re about to ‘sneak’ across the road in front of a cyclist haha)

Enough already! I will not give up. I will not give in. I will never surrender. I will NOT be the first person on the planet to admit to cleat failure! Meanwhile, though – best stay out of my way. Besides … do you really want to be anywhere near somebody who had to scrabble for the instruction booklet combined with google to work out how to change gears??

Road to Ironman? This is going to be one lo-o-o-o-o-o-o-n-g road 

 

** Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter – @hyatt_amanda 

 

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