Saturday 16 April 2016. It’s currently 06.07 am on this Spring morning and it’s just me reclined here on my bed with my iPad, my thoughts and nothing to interrupt my flow. Who knows what time I will finish this blog (I hate the word ‘blog’ … what does it mean?). And here I go slowly hitting those keys. Now I realise this is going to sound dramatic but today marks the start of the rest of my life. Wow!…That’s quiet the statement as I read it back but true, so VERY true. For many people my week’s events will be quite insignificant; just a slow jog around the country side and receiving an email. Big deal, ‘so what’!
As I reflect I just know that these two events have blown away the fog of the past few years and fuelled this life changing moment. Firstly I need to deal with, and explain the slow jog, I’ll explain the email shortly. Why and how can such an every day, and lets face it, boring event have such a defining effect. It’s because that 10km jog almost broke me. I have never been so exhausted, cold, dirty, determined and elated in all my life. You see this jog defined and challenged me, and established what is possible with ‘my condition’. As many of you know this slow jog was in fact my nemesis and is called the “WolfRun “. No big deal, thousands of people complete these so called “mud runs” every weekend. Agreed, my number was 6292. So yes many hundreds and thousands have gone before me and many others will follow.
The difference for me was our team. This team was made up of the closest person possible to me and the perfect stranger who I met on the morning of the ‘race’. Our strategy was simple, “teamwork”! We were to start as a team and go over the finish line together.
I had my concerns. My personal trainer and I agreed that I would probably struggle to get round. My fears were many. Being cold and it’s effects, the very distance to be covered, the thought of the mud zapping what little amount of drug enabled energy I had and the swim …. oh! the swim. We’ll get back to the swim 😄
Suddenly I was counting down at the start and excitedly joining in, shouting down TEN, NINE (I’m waving my arms in the air) EIGHT ….. TWO, ONE and we’re off. Tick that box we’ve started together. Now just the small task of 10km, 25 obstacles and that swim, oh and a huge waterside to look forward to!
Don’t worry I’m not about to describe every muddy field and 12 foot wall we scaled, I’m sure you can imagine what its like with or without Parkinsons depending on your reason for reading this.
Ok, I’m now an hour and four minutes into typing this ‘blog’ so it seems appropriate to fast forward to that swim. The fork in the trail directed and divided the swimmers and non swimmers. Pausing to gather my thoughts allowed my personal trainer to catch up and say ‘Ewan, we’re not doing the swim’. Little did he know how much I’d agonised over this moment. I set off for the bank of the lake. Before I could check myself I had slid down the bank and was sat waist deep in sludgy brown, smelly sub 10c water. Funnily enough the cold didn’t even register, survival instinct had kicked in and I was focused on two things, not drowning and the opposite bank. Sure I registered the safety crew in their dry suits and canoes but nothing else mattered for the next 80 metres, it was me swimming against my fears and challenging my condition. As I crawled up the muddy bank on the other side and turned around to watch my team follow me out from the icy lake it suddenly struck me what everyone was doing and the phrase ‘creating awareness’ became elevated to a different level. This was personal survival mixed in with basic instincts. Dramatic? Please don’t even think you know what it feels like unless you’ve experienced something similar. There’s a reason you sign a disclaimer before you start and for me it was because of that swim.
Yes the water slide is fun, ask Kaz, but you even pay the price for that experience with the biting cold. You join the queue anticipating the moment when you can squeal like a child as you slide down, this has to be the highlight of the WolfRun. Then it’s the slog for the finish line and believe me it’s a slog. Over and under various obstacles that once I’d seen as exciting challenges earlier in the day now quiet honestly were seriously irritating. Oh and then just one more plunge into the icy, stinking, sludgy brown stuff I believe was once H2O, believe me I DONT want to know the chemical make up of what sits in the base of this torturous ditch!
I started to hear the music booming from the beer tent, we were almost home. I allowed myself a peak forward and saw the crowd by the finishing line. As I got closer I recognised the little blond girl stood in her sensible warm coat and flowery Wellington boots cheering us home. It’s little Lottie from Lockinge. I fight back the tears, come on, 44 year old men don’t cry in front of 8 year old girls I tell myself. Further on I can’t help myself, apparently grown men do cry when they see their cousin and young family. Then the finish line!!…. but between me and “IT” they expect me to crawl under a cargo net into that brown chemical stuff one last time. Over the line and I’m broken. Well done WolfRun, objective achieved! Team Parkinsons.Me are the real winners as we hit the finishing line together and assemble for our celebratory group photo.
As I finish this blog I look up at the time and see it takes as long to type a ‘blog’ as it does to complete the run. It’s currently 9.07 and I’m late with meds.
Oh and that email ….. I’m afraid that will have to wait until Monday 😉