The last two months has been an incredible learning curve for me, and I have finally begun to understand how to balance different goals.
For the first time in my life I am pursuing my three greatest passions all at the same time.
I am in full time training for Jasmin Vardimons young company JV2, with trail running and surfing events squeezed in at the weekends and during the Christmas holiday break.
I believed for a very long time that there was no limit, and in many ways, it still remains a foundation in my motivation.
But it is clear that doing TOO much can hinder your performance in everything you do, and in a way, your limit for achievement begins to drop.
The last few races have been a huge eye opener to what the human body is capable of.
Helped along by reading ‘Born to Run’ a both educational and inspirational book written by Christopher McDougal, I decided to venture further than the 42 mile race I had dragged myself through in Cornwall.
I first ramped up a gear and took a slightly doubtful dive into the self-navigated 58mile race across the sparse Snowdonia mountain range.
I had entered without really thinking about it, and it was only when Benn Berkeley, a good friend and experienced expeditioner, helped me track and visualise the route along an OS map that I gulped with apprehension. He looked at me and said ‘wow, that’s long way’ … and that was coming from a man who has endured one of the toughest endurance ice races across Siberia!
None the less, I had entered, and I am not one for backing out, so I set off on an adventure with the thought that if the worst came to the worst, I could always pull out at a checkpoint.
The small pool of runners set off as the sun rose, and I was in my normal chirpy mood, excited to explore a great route across mountain range I hadn’t seen before.
I latched onto the back of two Australian runners in desperation of not getting lost, but they shot off after the first 6 miles.
I knew there was a long race ahead so I stuck to my own pace and made more of a focus to reach the end in one piece.
With over 10,000 ft. of elevation, I felt at times I would never stop climbing, but luckily the surrounding view was enough to distract from the pain.
I wearily stopped to fill my water pouch from the fresh river by the slate quarry, then continued, paying close attention to the terrain.
By the fourth checkpoint, I had caught up with a lovely chap called Tom. His smile was enough to cheer me up from a severe state of self-pity and I decided I would try and stay close too him for as long as possible.
He munched on some jellybeans and bound off down the trail, so I plodded after him, still shovelling nuts into one side of my mouth whilst trying to breathe out the other.
He welcomed my company and became a hugely motivating leader. He had some knowledge of the area so whilst he chatted away, I replied very abruptly, just trying to concentrate on keeping up.
All in all we ran together for a good 6 hours and I feel that without his chirpy spirit I may have crumbled and withered far sooner!
As we reached the last checkpoint, I was so desperate to finish but my legs were screaming at me, so I told Tom to head off without me and assured that I would see him at the finish line.
He spun round and waved me a good luck smile before disappearing into a never-ending horizon.
For the last few miles I had my map clutched in my fingertips, tracking every slight advance towards the end.
As I crawled out of the forest and reached the road, I could smell both civilisation and the finish line.
An old man stood with a walkie-talkie and buzzed back to HQ that he had seen the first woman. I had no idea I was running in the lead! My mind had been so focussed on my map, looking where my feet were going and not losing sanity, I almost forgot I was even in a race.
I was hit with a wave of last wind energy and embodied the bounding energy I had envied Tom having hours beforehand.
I could hear the band playing and I could see the lights of the finish.
As I broke through the tape I was greeted but the few male runners that had come through already, a teary eyed mum, and a very happy race director armed with a bowl of hot pasta.
I was in disbelief at my finishing time and position.
Being the youngest runner by about 6 years I was overwhelmed with words of congratulations from spectators and other runners.