Happy New Year to one an all!
As we start a new year I look back on 2017 with great fondness even though the end of the year didn’t quite turn out the way I would have liked, there were so many other things that made it marvellous.
The beginning of the year saw me saying goodbye to Deana at Kent University, where she had been responsible for most of my rehab while I was gradually building up my running outside. Thankfully as I had been cycling, cross training and doing short running sessions I had managed to keep my fitness at an OK level, but from the endurance point of view it felt as though I was starting from scratch. None the less every time I went out for a run the sense of freedom I felt was absolutely fantastic. There is nothing better than lacing up the trainers and heading out, even in the pouring rain!
My coach had told me that I wasn’t allowed to race in 2017 as it would be counterproductive to my training for America. I must say it seemed very odd not signing up for any events but I had to remember that in September I would hopefully be running just under 3,000 miles so the sensible hat stayed firmly on!
In April Nici Griffin kindly asked me to hand out the medals at the South Downs Way 50, the first event of the year for Centurion Running in April. This is without doubt one of my most favourite things to do. As Ultra runners we are so used to running silly distances that we sometimes forget how long a 50 miles race is and all the hard training the competitors have had to fit in to their busy lives. For me it’s always a real honour to give everyone their medal at the finish line from the winner to the last person – they are all amazing.
Over the next few months my training picked up. HWMBO went up to Scotland fishing so I decided this was a great opportunity to go with him and use the hills to get some good hill training in! The fishing party would head out in the morning to fish and I would go off into the glorious countryside of the Highlands for a run finishing at the fishing hut, where Tim would sometimes have remembered to bring out my change of clothes – he did forget on one occasion leaving me shivering with cold but he was quickly forgiven!
Training become a tad dull when I had to do long sessions week after week after week, running 6 out of the 7 days but despite sometimes losing the will to live I did get them done. Luckily for me I was joined on some of these long sessions by Ben, Carl and Caroline, they were great company and a pleasant distraction as we chatted our way through the miles making the time pass quickly.
Meanwhile the planning for my Trans-con was in full flow. Crew, logistics and much more were all getting sorted, this took hours of my time and with two months to go flights were book for myself and the crew, RV paid for, cars provided – it was all systems go!
Just before heading off to the USA my book was published “Beyond Impossible” ghost written by Lucy Waterlow. Seeing our hard work in print was very exciting but a bit nerve racking also as I waited to see what other people thought of it. The book had been tough to write with all the emotions that were involved and even while I was committing theses words to paper I wasn’t sure whether I wanted people to know about my past. Thankfully it has had a great response so I’m thrilled – actually I can’t stop smiling, I have a book published! Way to go Mimi!
On the 7th September I set off from Los Angeles City Hall with the aim off finishing at the City Hall in New York in 50 days. Although I had said it was 53 days my actual aim was 50. Unfortunately it didn’t go to plan as my knee decided to give up on me. I had never been concerned about my knee when I set off as I had rehabbed it properly and it felt good and the surgeon knew of my plans and had given me no indication that it wouldn’t be anything other than OK. I’m not going to go into detail about the run in this blog but basically for the last two weeks I was in a huge amount of pain; I don’t think I have ever experienced pain like that before, (you can see from the pictures that things weren’t functioning correctly!)
It was decided that I should go to A&E for an MRI as the pain became unbearable (even for me!) The scan revealed bad bone oedema, swelling at the back and on the medial side of my knee and I was down to bone on bone on the lateral side of my knee. We all sat there quite shocked at what we were looking at. Had I continued I risked multiple stress fractures and the chances of having to have a total knee replacement on returning home were pretty high. After hearing this news I remember sitting in the consultant’s room, everyone had left me alone to give me time to work it though for myself. As I sat there in my running kit, my feet dangling over the edge of the couch, my hands covering my face I rocked backwards and forwards as I sobbed and sobbed. Although I knew there was only one decision to make I didn’t want to give up, I still had my running kit on for goodness sakes, my plan had been to be driven back to where we had finished the day before and continue with my run. I didn’t want to give up and be considered a failure by everyone or let my crew down, I knew I could have done the run, I knew I could, but the decision to stop had to be made. HWMBO told me that had I decided to continue he would have stopped me anyway. This confirmed to me that I had made the right decision as he wouldn’t have come to that conclusion lightly.
I felt too ashamed to face the world so I hid for a bit in New York. Becky, Paul and the children came out to see me, they said they wanted to come out and celebrate my achievement – that is one of the loveliest things that anyone has done for me. We celebrated though it was hard for me to feel there was anything to celebrate.
Even returning home I found it very difficult to come to terms with what had happened. People sent me some lovely messages which meant a lot to me and were wonderful but I had to work things out for myself. Gradually I came to realise that it wasn’t a failure it was a massive achievement. I had managed to run 2, 217.2 miles in 40 days, something that very few people have done, I was on track to break the record and however painful things had become I never considered giving up until it was forced on me. Now I can look back with pride at what I have achieved and remember what an amazing adventure we all experienced, something that I will never forget.
The knee is still not better so still no running but I am cycling. Unfortunately long distance running will probably now be something I can’t ever do again but fingers crossed I can do some sort of running. Rather than sit and watch everyone else going off on their running adventures I needed a goal for 2018 so have rather nervously signed up for Ride Across Britain, basically cycling LEJOG over 9 days. I know nothing about bikes, I don’t even own a road bike so this really is going to be a challenge that will keep me out of mischief for a bit! In 1999 I couldn’t run so who knows what I can do once I get the hang of cycling! I’m also starting swimming lessons on the 5th January as I panic putting my head under water – instead of giving up things I’m taking on new challenges.
I would like to say a massive thanks to my crew Jenny Davis, Becky and Paul George, Jan Strachan, Sophie Rooney, Aaron Asaro, Fiona Philips, Becky Williams, Becs Ash and last but by no means least my marvellous husband HWMBO – love you all.
Also thank you to my sponsors for my American run – James Manclark, UltraMarathonRunningStore, VW America, Qubit, Noxgear. Likeys, TruestartCoffee , Hoka One One, X-Bionic, Suunto. I couldn’t have done it without you.
So you see, 2017 hasn’t all been bad, it was my journey and one that will help to make me even more determined to keep going and not to give up, sometimes we just have to search a little bit harder. Here’s to an exciting 2018 and another marvellous adventure!