It’s tomorrow!

bib

Right now I am sitting on the couch in my friend BC’s apartment listening to the hustle and bustle of the early Saturday morning NY streets below. I have been awake for a couple of hours. There is a lot going on in my brain.

I arrived in New York yesterday morning in what felt like the start and end (I am still not sure, I suppose it is both) of an enormous journey, but in reality was a two hour flight from the ATL.

A message from my aunt this morning

Well Nik, we have gone full circle. This time last year you were arriving in Australia. We will be with you every step of the way. Looking forward to the finish photo and medal. Be brave. With love

It’s true, on this day last year I was landing in Australia. When I took off from LA the 2012 NYC marathon had not been cancelled, when I landed in Sydney it had. Either way it didn’t matter so much to me then, but because of the cancellation I had the opportunity to run this year. I would probably have not been able to otherwise. Small things.

Yesterday I went to the Expo to pick up my bib. There were thousands of people there, expothousands of fit looking, marathon running types of people. It was a daunting experience. The bag check, id check, the bib pick up and then the only possible exit is through the rest of the expo area.  A bit like the people you always curse when traveling with small kids and you have to travel through the duty free shop on your way into and out of customs, the very clever organisers funnel you into the world’s biggest ASICS NYC Marathon shop where people are in a frenzy buying themselves mementos and gifts for family and friends.  While you stand still, trying to think and take it all in you wonder why you can’t – it must be the DJ in the middle of it all pumping tunes designed for maximised purchasing opportunities. If you don’t move you are at risk of being knocked over – good practice for the start line tomorrow?

I didn’t go with the shiny silver jacket with inbuilt red flashing lights on the shoulders, not sure if it was an 80’s throwback or not but not that many chilly days in Atlanta to justify.

silverjacket

The shirt I wanted to get wasn’t in my size, but I was able to buy it anyway for the PBM who by chance was corresponding with me via fb chat at that exact time and was happy to take the XS on offer.

freyashirt

After I made it out alive from the ASICS store there were rows and rows of running related things that were what I imagine to be a bit like a runners heaven running shop.

It was about the same time that a message came in from another friend having seen my check in to the expo (I am nothing if not a slave to social media)

You can never buy too much gear there

Thanks for the green light Soph!

Luckily the headbands were in my size so a did snap up a few of those, although not all of mine say 26.2.

headbands

I got a couple of other t-shirts and thought I should stop then – and didn’t go through with the thigh warmers, shoes, flouro long socks or various protein bars or the Vitamixes on offer.

I did want the gloves but left without them somehow.

glovesAfter I escaped the madness and was walking back to BC’s there was a beautiful New York sunset.

sunset

Tomorrow’s high in NY is predicted to be 9 degrees celsius. Chilly and windy. Better than too hot I suppose. The OAC (from Kili adventures) ran a marathon in Myanmar today where the temperature was 32 degrees celsius but the ‘comfort level’ was 39!?

In other news as I start in the final wave at 10.55am I wasn’t keen on being on a bus at 6am and having to wait at the start line with my 48 000 closest friends wearing running gear and garbage bags, so I enquired about alternative transport yesterday at the Expo and was able to get on a Staten Island Ferry at 8.15am, which will bring me to the start line at about 9, a much more acceptable arrangement.

I am feeling the love from around the world so much. Thank you all for your messages via various forms of social media and telephone. I treasure every one of them and will draw on them tomorrow.

I suspect ( not having ever manged more than 11km) a marathon is like childbirth where you set off with good intentions but take sound medical advice if required through the process.

Thanks Sally C for this giggle with excellent advice.

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I may not get to 42 sponsors tomorrow but there is no harm in trying. I will be chasing Sponsors to be Committed to Testing for the rest of the year, and a very long time yet. I believe that awareness of possible symptoms and testing when appropriate are so important.

How to sponsor me for your very own kilometre – click here and don’t forget to let me know which kilometre you want. Again I am focussing on value for money, your kilometre will last at least 7 minutes!

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Numbers marked in red are taken, perhaps your lucky number is still available?! Snap it up now before those that haven’t chosen yet pick it.

How to be a sponsor committed to testing – send an email to randomthoughtsnikki@gmail.com to let me know and get along to your local GP or pharmacy, whatever way is accepted in your country of residence and do yourself a favour and get tested. I won’t be asking for medical results or certificates ;)

It’s a small crowd so far, but don’t let that deter you from joining.

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The Why – 2012

It was on July 11th 2011 that I wrote the first version of ‘The Why’ explaining my reasons behind climbing Kili and asking for your indulgence in following my journey.  Thankfully after being such a loudmouth about the whole thing I actually made it to the top, flew the flag, had the picture, had South Africa post lose my first round of thank you letters and dragged my heels on the second round. (Note to self – lessons for this time around). So much has happened since then just ten months ago that it seems a lot to process.

First order of business is my mum’s health, when last I wrote she was about to move into a new treatment phase to address the sinister creeping (look away kids) fucking cancer that had returned to new pastures in her body. Once again drawing on her strengths and reserves, medicine both traditional and alternative she has triumphed over the beast and after a torrid few months of radiation treatment and chemo while under the additional supervision of her Chinese medicine physician she is once again getting great blood test results, body scans and the all clear for a new international jaunt in the second half of this year where she will come and visit us in our new country of residence (yes – we’re moving in June from South Africa to the USA – Atlanta, Georgia). Did I mention last time she was diagnosed when I was pregnant with my daughter now 5? Since then she has welcomed three new grandchildren, the latest just last month and she has already had two trips to Queensland to visit the gorgeous baby Isabel and her big brother Oscar.

To summarise she is six years into her diagnosis of Bowel Cancer Stage IV, plus three grandkids (four in total), plus one Hopemobile (her own Grey Nomad method of transportation used for camping up and down the Aussie coastline) and a round the world plane ticket in hand (not her first in the last six years). Yay for my Mum!!!

I cannot say enough wonderful things about my friends, family and absolute strangers who sponsored me for my Kili climb. I am so indebted to them for their support and encouragement, I made it to the top – which was the idea and my stated goal, but in some ways I feel I let them down. I didn’t insist, nor even ask that they get tested for Bowel Cancer when I gratefully accepted their words of encouragement and sponsorship dollars.

I wish I had.

At Christmas time my wonderful friend Sarah and her family from Hong Kong came to South Africa to visit us, luckily for us her lovely husband is South African and they have been twice to visit since we have been here. Our eldest sons are best friends from pre-school days and always pick up where they left off and our youngest (hers a boy – mine a tomboy) are also very close, born a month apart at the same hotel-spital in Hong Kong. We spent some wonderful times together during their stay both at our place and with her in-laws and friends here in SA. It was so wonderful to see them all looking so well and happy. Sarah was very dedicated while she was here, running four to five times a week in training for the Hong Kong GreenPower event that she was running later in January. Her first year at 25kms (she usually tackles the 50kms – in fact we did it together twice as part of the same team) she wanted to run rather than just hike.

On the 15th January she sent me a text to say she had finished in under three hours and was very chuffed with her time – if you knew the trail you would be very impressed as I was. On the 22nd January she sent me an email titled ‘News’. It wasn’t good news, it was bad news, bowel cancer bad news.

As I write this she is in a rest week between 25 rounds of radiation and an eight cycle chemo treatment program. She is strong, positive, fit and healthy and has incredible support from family and friends near and far.

If you saw Sarah and me side by side – you would pick her as the one about to run the New York marathon, not me. This year I am going to finish the marathon and then text her to tell her my time – it will not be as impressive as hers would have been, but perhaps she’ll run it next year for a comparison, I would not count her out. Or maybe she’ll just come to visit for the shopping and a girls trip – that works too.

In July last year The Jodi Lee Foundation had raised almost AUD $250,000 towards increasing awareness of Bowel Cancer and early detection, as of today after some amazing fundraising efforts they have raised AUD $790, 844 and counting. No doubt the first million is just round the corner and more importantly increased awareness translating into saving lives. Jodi would have been amazed but not at all surprised at Nick’s dedication to the cause and success in achieving the goals of the foundation. She would also have been proud that I didn’t have any vomit in my hair after seven days on Kilimanjaro, although not sure she would have approved of the plaits I wore to stave off the greasy hair.

So The Why changes while it stays the same.

Sarah, Mum and Jodi, I am going to run, walk, limp or drag myself across that finish line on November 4th and while my body may ache, throb, cramp or seize up (why say may – lets face it – probably will) I will try to remember that its just a drop in the ocean compared to what you have faced and just keep going.

NYC November 4th, 2012 – apparently there’s a marathon that day

39, 000 runners

2,000,000 spectators

26.2 miles / 42.195 kilometres

No official ‘cut off’ time, I knew there was a reason that I entered this one, but the official clock is turned off 10 hours after the race starts

David Lee Roth, Lance Armstrong (OK he’s an actual athlete), Haruki Murakami, P Diddy, Scarlett Johannsen, Ryan Reynolds, Alanis Morissette  and Katie Holmes (we will come back to her at a later date) have all done it before

41 medical stations – carrying five tons of ice, 13,475 adhesive bandages and 390 tubs of vaseline

80 photographers take up to 450,000 photos of racers

Internationally televised with 315,000,000 viewers

Has its own iApp to follow individual runners

Its New York baby- go big or go home!

Am currently hiding under the bed pretending its not happening…

Mid-life crisis continuing, false courage after summiting Kili, the world’s worst excuse for a trip to New York with a girlfriend (yes, once again I have a partner in crime), all possible explanations of the decision making process.

I only have to do 26 more weeks of training, one international move with my family, two stints in temporary housing and another full summer holidays with the kids in a new city where I know a total of three people (all of whom I have only met once).

You see – even you are wincing at the computer screen now aren’t you?

Follow the crazy journey right here – from the comfort of your own couch. Its bound to be a maniacal laugh a minute.

ps – this doesn’t mean the Kili posts are over, there’s still so many details to share

pps – the blog is now officially in a ‘state of transition’ between ‘Off to climb a mountain’ and ‘One mountain, One marathon’, it will keep developing at the same rate as my technical skills….slowly (I may have to seek advice from the 9 year old at some stage)

Memories fade, but I kept notes

It’s happened – just as we predicted. Although I was there less than five months ago when eleven tired and weary, mountain sore people sat around drinking beers after their first shower for a week, determined to never forget the pain. Ten of those (don’t forget we had Superboy doing it for fun with his mum with us) said in no uncertain terms ‘it was the hardest thing mentally and physically’ they had ever undertaken. I know because I listened to them say it and wrote notes so I wouldn’t forget later.  I feel sure if you asked them now their memories of it would be softer and they would say it was ‘one of the hardest’ or ‘quite tough’ ‘it’s just a matter of really putting your mind to it’ – which is EXACTLY what all the people who we talked to beforehand who had done it told us.

The 'kitchen' - birthplace of many a cucumber soup and fried chicken dish

Those that are yet to climb it – I will tell you here and now, there is a conspiracy by those that have gone before you, no-one tells you how hard it actually is. To be fair to them this is because unless they got back yesterday – they probably can’t actually remember. Like a lot of terrible experiences – your mind seems determined to protect you and glosses the memory to make it fuzzy and happier. I imagine this is so you don’t have some kind of post-traumatic stress situation about eating eggs where you are unable to differentiate between the ‘yolks’ and the ‘whites’ every day for a week, or wonder how there can be ‘fried chicken’ on Day 6 of a non-refrigerated trek.

Of course if I dig very very deep they are still there – the flashes of pain, exhaustion, whiffs

Toilet tent and a 'Vicks fix' - Camp Day 4

of the stench of sweating daily and not bathing for a week, along with the retching accompanied by a quick splash of Vicks under the nose so I could go back into the bathroom tent because it was that or the great rocky  outdoors with no coverage and about 200 people I didn’t know looking on – with their cameras at the ready as this photo shows.  Or the shame of the memory of being excited that the LDL was having a nose bleed so we all had to stop and rest for ten minutes and then I could manage a sip of water from my camel-bak and then face the next thirty minutes after we had been told not to ask for stops as we were simulating ‘summit day’ conditions.

My little book of notes – collated on a day to day basis while lying in the tent at night with the OAC has proved an excellent memory prompter for reliving the pain and agony and even the teary conversation we had the day before summit about handing the flag to her to photo at the top if I didn’t make it.

I promise more posts about the week that was Kili -before I tell you about what’s next as my pseudo mid-life crisis rolls into 2012.

Thanks again to all my sponsors – I now understand the South African postal service thought they would rather keep the thank you notes I posted in December (my bad doing it at Christmas time). I hope someone’s house is made much brighter by the many signed photos of me summiting they collected. I haven’t found anyone trying to sell them on eBay yet so it seems they may have worked out I wasn’t famous after all. I have more on the way – watch this space.

Even got the photo to prove it….

This was not an easily come by photo and it wasn’t just the climb – my big camera (with accompanying giant lens) was relegated to my overnight bag after finding it way too heavy to keep in my day pack after the first day, weak I know but a necessary strategic move & in no way justifies my husband’s commentary that it was too big and heavy and not to take it. My smaller point and click camera slept with me in my sleeping bag to keep it warm and the batteries from draining too fast – unfortunately at some point this meant it got rolled on and apparently didn’t enjoy the experience so while it still took photos – you just couldn’t tell what they were of.

Luckily the main group were sighted on my approach to the summit as they were returning, so after tears and hugs the LDL handed over her camera so when we got to the ‘photo place’ a grumpy Kiwi took the shots for us. I’m not sure why he was grumpy – but he was a little begrudging and didn’t seem that caught up in the euphoria of ‘making it’. However – he took not a bad photo – so thanks to him for that.

With Stator the magic guide

The pre-summit group (as in pre my summit) The LDL third from left and OAC third from right both standing

Here's one we took earlier - Day 2, the smiles still seem fairly genuine. OAC second from right, LDL, third from right then me in the middle with the big blue hat and plaits (there's a look that won't be rushing back)