I recently got the above quote by Teddy Roosevelt tattooed across my ribs. I’ve always loved the full quote but the last line above always hit home. I would always rather try and fail than to sit there and wonder “what if”. I take on challenges that nobody else would dream to do so there’s always more of a chance of me failing. Yes there’s runners who have done what I’ve done and cyclists who have done what I’ve done but nobody attempts them both.
As I wake in the Ashe Hotel in Tralee on this beautiful sunny Sunday morning my Garmin pings to say I have had poor sleep and need 63hrs recovery! I woke up at 6am Thursday to attempt what’s never been done before, ran through the night Thursday and haven’t slept since with the pain my body is in. When you can’t manage stairs or getting in and out of the car, can barely dress yourself and aching head to toe you can’t help but wonder is it all worth it. But I’m long enough in the tooth to know that come next weekend, pain will be gone and I’ll be back thinking I’m fucking Clark Kent.
I set out to become the first person to do a double Everest Run and Bike. Injury forced me to come up short but still ended up the only person to double Bike and single run. (Clutching at straws I know)
Having been out injured with no running for three months of the year I knew this was a big ask but I decided to move the challenge forward and give it a lash. Everesting as a challenge is fiendishly simply yet brutally hard! Mt Brandon in Dingle, we left home Thursday morning and started running at 3pm. My father in law Brendan sent me up the hill while Andy and Pete made their way down. You couldn’t see 50metres up the track, never mind the summit of this monster mountain. The weather was beyond brutal , visibility zero, just trying to pick out the marker post in front of the next one each time and keep moving forward. By the time I made it down after the first rep I was soaked to the bone. It stayed like that for the next twelve hours. The path I trekked at the start had turned into a full blown stream now. Footing was lethal. By first light I was sounding like that little orphan in The Simpsons with whooping cough!! It had seeped in, chest was rattled, head banging, ears blocked and blurred vision. But all that was fine, doesn’t help with running but doesn’t stop you running.
At the Kerry Way Ultra 200km run last September I had an awkward fall, tore my hip flexor at the attachment and it’s never been right since. I’ve ran several single days with 100km+ distance since and it held up OK, but with the elevation of this challenge it gave way. I knew straight away the Double was gone, now I was pleading at every fucking station of the cross on that mountain to let me get to the single Everest. Andy led the way on the last rep and all I had to do was follow him.
“Your gait has completely changed, you’re only using your left leg” he said. I had lost all power and use of my left leg. Just like the KWU all I could do was drag my left leg, step with the right, drag the left, step with the right. But with over 800m elevation per rep and how steep the top section was things got very dangerous very quickly. I marked my own route at the top with flags, it was incredibly steep. If you stood up anyway straight you’d fall backwards. We met a sheep farmer called Mikey Joe up the top, Andy asked him do many of the mountain sheep end up on their back, which set me up for several Kerry Man jokes but I’m too mature for that!! Only on his birthday I said to myself!
I climbed that last rep one legged. Andy told me one more full rep would get me the Everest and the watch ticked 8848m at literally the last step to the top. I was done. I may have managed one more rep but no more and I doubt I’d have made it up or down once more in one piece to be honest. I’ve never quit a race because it was hard or because I was hurting, I love the hurt. But there was just no way I could physically climb up and down another eleven times. There was never a doubt I wouldn’t get a single, if something has been done before then I truly believe I can do it too. But I was aiming for something that was never done before. Something huge. But it wasn’t to be and that’s ok. I’m actually delighted with the single because of what it took to get it. The weather and the injuries. It was far harder than I could have ever imagined. It was just relentless. After a couple of reps your legs scream from the very start, you can’t wait to get to the top but as soon as you reach the top you think “ah bollox, my legs can’t take another descent”, dying for the descent to end so the legs can stop taking a hammering only to remember that you have to turn and go again! I thought of doing half the mountain but twice the reps instead but there’s just no right or easier way of doing it. The elevation is the same no matter what way you try to tackle it.
In for an mri now to get to the bottom of this but I’ll be back training by the weekend. In some shape or form. Busy time ahead with the relocation of Spun Cycles & Spun Run but we’ll get a plan together again ASAP to go push the boundaries even further!
Thanks again for all the support, it makes me want to run through walls sometimes! I’m a bang average athlete in my eyes, a half arsed cyclist who prefers being a quarter arsed runner, busy family life and two businesses to run, I always get the training done that Bernard gives me but recovery is never right and it will be a few more years before it ever is right. But I do what I can, when I can and I’ll continue to push the boundaries and push my body as far as my mind thinks is capable.
Somedays I want to quit all this shit and just work away and live a normal life, but most days I want to quit work and go harder at all this shite! I’ll keep pushing further than any athlete has ever done so long as you guys keep supporting me!
And to save ye all asking me over the next few days which is harder, Everest bike or run…………..RUN!
Maybe it’s time to start looking at tackling the real Everest!