I’m here, I’m training …

I bought some shoes.

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They aren’t hot pink – but they do have hot pink laces. I have trained in them for the last 9 weeks so they are almost ready to be traded in. I have a hot pink pair on order to transition into for the last SIX weeks of training. *shrieks of terror*

You may recall last year my brother was consulting with a Hawaiian Iron Man participant on my behalf because he was concerned that I ‘wouldn’t have the legs’ to finish the whole thing. That story was part of this post. The upshot being that I should be clocking around 100kms / 62.5 miles a week and my long runs should be a lazy 35km / 22 miles on a regular basis.  At that time, 12 days until the marathon, it was not such helpful information. My longest run to that point had been 25km / 15m miles and I wasn’t about to trot out a quick 35/22.

It is fair to say my training plan last year was on the haphazard side. An international move and a terminally ill parent was not conducive to a super smooth countdown, that was my excuse anyway. This year I did have the opportunity to consider better planning and running programs.

Here’s how that worked out.

A lot of thinking about starting to train for the first part of the year.
As summer drew nearer, thinking about how hot it would be to run in the heat.
When summer arrived – spending ENDLESS mornings of the 77 days my kids were on summer holidays at the pool for Swim team.
When Swim team ended it was the middle of summer, super hot and humid and about 18 weeks until the NYC Marathon. It was time to make a plan.*

In my internet browsing hours I happened to come across the New York Road Runners Virtual Training Plan. There was a 20 week plan, a 16 week plan and a 12 week plan. I was 18 weeks out – a tiny bit late for the 20 week plan but more than in time for the 16 week plan.

It was a fairly straight forward exercise that involved inputting some relevant statistics, determining if I would do a Conservative, Moderate or Advanced plan (tick Conservative here) my credit card number and voila – a 16 week track to running a marathon. It looked suspiciously similar to the training plan my Runkeeper app had produced on my phone for free, but the fact I had paid for it, even a small amount, made me feel I was more likely to follow it.

And although it fluctuates weekly depending on what information I input about my training runs and times, it tells me today my current estimated completion time is 5.16.23 – 5.26.21 just sneaking in under Katie Holmes’ time of 5.30 which was my driving force from last year. It’s not rocket speed, or particularly fast, it’s actually pretty slow – I am no sprinter, but unless you have run a marathon this year or last, or ever, you don’t get to tell me that.

I have been religiously recording my runs and times in and on of all my recording devices, so I am not cheating myself.

I now share them with you – to keep myself accountable.

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Nine weeks of training, it really feels like I’ve run further, but you can’t argue with an App, a    fitbit and a Garmin watch apparently. Triple checked.

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I do have to be a sprinter now though in one respect. Today there are 45 days to go until I hit the starting line and I still want to meet my target of 42 financial sponsors – one for each kilometre and 42 sponsors committed to testing for Bowel cancer.

The first because I desperately want something and someone different to think about every 7 minutes or so – (give or take 45 seconds apparently – uphill, downhill, crazy spurt, extra slow) while plodding my way around the streets of New York and the second because The Jodi Lee Foundation is based on raising awareness of Bowel Cancer.

How to sponsor me for your very own kilometreclick here and don’t forget to let me know which kilometre you want. At the moment only #5 is taken. So many to choose from.

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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 ;)

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Ambitious?  Hell yes, but so is running a marathon if you ask me.

* I thank my three years in South Africa for adding this phrase to my vocabulary, I have no idea what I would have used in the past, but it’s a brilliant addition.

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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.