This is my posthumous post on the dragons back race 2017. Reflection of the good, the bad and the damn right ugly. Casting my mind back to all my long blog posts i wrote months in advance about how im preparing physically and mentally for the challenge. The belief was there, The soul felt strong and the body felt capable.
I approached the race with alot of excitement but was weary of the huge task at hand. During the event the weather was very hot at times, clagged in with 10m visibility, we had rain and high winds. The whole erray of Welsh Mountain weather shook us up. The appreciation of even making it to the start line was prevalent on every section of each day. What an honour it was to be here. Throughout my time on days 1 to 4 my navigation and cool head prevailed. My decision making was good. I looked after my body, my feet and my hydration. I prioritised water so packed “heavy” meaning I had more water weight on board. This was something that didnt concern me. I might of had more weight initially but the priority of adequate water intake was huge on my agenda as the cumulative dehydration over the coming days could take hold of you weren’t smart. I was slow but steady and always had some in reserve for the next mountain, mile and problem solving situation every conpetitor indefinitely came across. My thoughts were clear and my judgement had clarity.
So far so good. Until the mind blowingly challenging descents started to play havoc with my lower limb on my right leg. Pain I’ve experienced before on many occasion, but feeling it creep in on day 2 meant I’d be regulary tapping into my reserves and using so much more physical and mental resolve that was needed. It turned out to be my nemesis and my downfall.
Running a futher 23 miles on day 2 after feeling the initial pop in my anterior compartment of my lower leg, and the following day of 44 miles proved unbelievably tough. The mountains never eased and the pain kept growing.
By halfway through day 4 I succumbed to the earth shattering pain that came my way and had to withdraw. Something I’ll never forget, something I’ll hold onto dearly. A feeling noone can truly describe, and one I will use to myadvantage in future challenges.
Now a week on, as i sit here staring painfully down at my cast walking boot with my crutches ever ready in my peripheral vision, I ponder and reflect. I keep playing the event over and over in my head. Shedding a tear and wishing I could of done more. Willing my body to continue, admitting defeat and staring failure in the eyes. Replaying that road on day 4 when I could feel my right lower leg pop and explode. Vividly holding onto the sheer agony it presented. Still believing in heart and mind, but not being physically able to pick myself up off the hill and carry on.
Acceptance that this time I wasnt invincible was a tough thing to do. All the pain and sacrifice leading up to this point fell insignificant to having to admit to failing. Having to accept that I was weak. In that moment I felt numb, in that moment i was crushed, but in that moment I also grew. I became stronger.
Even though the ligaments and tendons were detached, the bone suffered trauma and my race was over, I again sat there in that moment and reflected. I sat down on the Hill, the tears streaming my my puffed up eyes, and I called my partner telling her what just happened. The sound of her voice on the phone made my heart sink and made me realise what really is important in this life. Having her there with me in mind and spirit kept me going as far as I could reach. Knowing she’d be waiting for me kept me excited, made me thankful and made me feel alive. It was raw emotion that I’ve never felt. Hearing her soft voice and unconditional love in her words captivated my energy and empowered me. Reporting back to my family with the news I failed was hard but they didn’t care. All the cared about was that I was okay. I’m so proud to have the family i have.
Having an amazing support network around you. My brother, mum dad and sister. All my relations and friends have been there for me throughout this process. I thankyou all from the bottom of my heart.
The memory of Having met some seriously inspirational people on my journey through Wales will live on, and will most cetainly overpower the pain I’m feeling in this moment in time. I will be back and I will be stronger, I will have this experience to reflect on for the rest of my life and take strength from my weaknessess. Always adapting and overcoming and striving to be a better person.
It has taught me to admit failure and learn from it. We are our own worst enemies at times putting ourselves under stringent repetitive self criticism, We put ourselves down daily, we envy others, we rush through life with little thought as to what’s happening now, we always want more.
We always feel more is better. Running futher over more days is bigger kudos and more extreme, we become fixated on one upmanship and being the tough hero that everyone looks upto. But we forget that we are only human, and humans are allowed to fail. It’s okay to fail. You’ll build from it.
People have already said to me, “Ed, i thought you were ready, what happened. You had all day to do each days distance, your a trainer with years of experience; you should of smashed it no problem” and “does your programming and methods really work” I heard that too. The reality is u either stand up and be counted and try to better yourself and fail, or you stand back from the sidelines and gob off with sly remarks and insensitive comments. These people need to reflect on what really makes them happy. They havnt accepted failure or if they have, they have forgotten it’s raw and unequivocal hurt. There bitterness has ruptured there wallowing souls. Until they honestly realise how hard it is to accept failure they won’t grow, they won’t be happy and they can never understand how it feels to overcome this acceptance.
My preparation might of had chinks in its armour this time around but a proud man isn’t always a successful one, and i have yo hold my hands up and say my prep wasnt always without its adversity. Having obtained a stress fracture back in january due to consecutive 120 mile weeks. This is a learning curve to build from. 200 miles of mountain running isn’t something you have the formula for. Sometimes there are just too many variables and things you can never preempt. Aslong as character prevails and honesty with yourself stands tall in front of anything, then you’ve done well in my eyes.
It will be a while till I will be back running. But despite the severe injury I sustained I will draw from the positives and abolish the negatives. It’s going to be hard but it’s the only way and the right way. Failure will always be a tool for growth and with the right people around you can be a blessing in disguise.
So here’s to the recovery. A small glass will be raised and a centimental thought will be shed. A discouraged weakened individual I became will shortly be a distant memory, and the pain will turn to triumph. The self doubt is something I’ll hold onto forever as for now I see it as a remedy for self discovery. Fragility can be your biggest burden or your most powerful possession.
Let the failures uplift u. Strive to move forward, for I’m truly grateful for the people I have my life.
Till next time. Follow my blog on my road to recovery