Everest

Everest beckons: for feet, read miles. I feel like I’ve been crouched in my wee tent for days, waiting for the weather to break long enough to allow an attack on the summit, followed by a safe descent back to where I am now. The weather has been shit for ages: I know that for a fact because I’ve been out in it, chipping away at what’s left to scale the peak. Actually, I’ve not been in my tent at all. That bit was fake news.

But today the sun finally came out. Three days, possibly four, of sunshine to lift these tired legs up one last ascent to 29 thou: and a bit. The bit is another 29, which on this journey is tantamount to torture. It’s not 29 feet, it’s another 29 miles, and that itself is probably another 1600 feet of climbing. Everest is 29,029. C’est la vie.

I’ve been at this game long enough now to realise that the only way to keep moving forward is, well, to keep moving forward. If the total miles are the same tomorrow as they were yesterday it’s because you didn’t move yer arse. Now there may be a good reason for that: work, rest, illness and injury are all legit. But see cannae be arsed? That’s a red card offence: bed now, and no tea as my old man used to say. I think they threw that mould away when he died of cancer when I was just 19. That’s the same age that my Finn’s at just now. Scary thought.

Shifting yer arse is key to this game. Any old excuse will do when it’s ten minutes to heading out the door and it’s lashing with rain. Any old excuse would have done on Tuesday morning when Stewarton woke to a blizzard (as I’d predicted as far back as this time last week). But see that day I banged in 31 miles in 3 inches of snow before Christmas? That set the benchmark. That put a line in the sand. That was the trip that screamed “Advance to Killie: Collect 200 LCFN points if you pass Go”. I passed Go that day simply so that I would never, ever have the excuse, ever again of leaving the bike in the shed. Tuesday, and that snow, was instrumental in making this week. Anyway, you expect snow on Everest, even in March.

I’m on a bit of a run just now, just a tiny one, but a run nonetheless. All big runs start as wee ones. I’ve extrapolated the LCFN spreadsheet out to 30th September next year when I plan to roll into Adelaide. By hook or by crook, that ride needs to come to 40,000 miles. But here’s the tantalising bit: there are still 555 days between now and then. 555 days to knock off 11,000 miles. Do the maths: it’s 19.8 a day or thereabouts, assuming no days off. Aye right. Holidays, work, illness, injury, they’re all going to eat into that. So the best I can do is look back: what have I managed to date? Today was day number 785 on the road out of a possible 1314 (who mentioned Bannockburn?) which is basically 60% give or take 0.3%. That’s three and a half years: on the road six days out of every ten, or three out of five if you like. And for every one of those 785 days, the average has been 36. So 19.8’s a piece o’piss, right? Er… no. It’s still gotta be done. And I ain’t getting any younger. 64 last week.

The real metric, the sensible one, is to take that 60% and wipe out 40% of the 555 days that are left: that leaves 333, or as my Joe used to say when he was wee “tree, tree tree”. Now we’re talking. That’s 33 a day. Oooft, that’s a shift and a half, especially in the winter: best make hay while the sun shines then.

You probably thinking I’m talking rubbish. Take yersel’ oot the hoose for two hours tomorrow and do something out of your comfort zone: walk, cycle, swim, whatever. Then do it again the next day. And the next day. And the one after that. You can have a day off once you’ve done thirty in a row: two hours, every day. That’s the LCFN gig. Except it used to be four when I worked in Glasgow. I’ve gone soft in my old age.

It’s interesting cos my mate Lardy, who I knew 35 years ago before a 25 year timewarp ensued, messaged me yesterday to report that it was so feckin cold out at his bit that he was thinking of leaving the bike in the shed. Now I don’t have a problem with that cos Lardy puts in a shift whenever he can, but his point was how the hell did I manage over the Fenwick Muir, both ways, virtually every working day for three and a half years. Lardy, it’s commitment mate. Every long run starts with the very first day, and every day that you can stick another one on the pile is a day that will will ensure you get yer arse out that door again at 5am tomorrow: doesn’t matter if it’s lashing, doesn’t matter if it’s -6C. What matters is that you make the commitment, from day one, to do this, to make things as difficult as they can be, and to keep doing it. It reminds me of the Cumbernauld Marathon Walk: you walk a hundred miles in a day and win one: the pain fades and you want two. You win two, you start to understand the pain that got you there and you want three simply because the guy that wants four in a row needs to be harder than you. And no one is harder than you. That’s basically the way you deal with these things. Difficult is good. Difficult is challenging. Difficult is worth doing and sticking in there…

Because that’s the way it is for the kids and their families.

Gail and Eileidh were in London this week for tests to determine whether she is eligible, medically, for a new form a treatment. We all know what happened in London on Wednesday and your first reaction is ask yourself whether people are safe. Fortunately, that was the case, but those that died were someone’s family: husband, wife, father, mother, son or daughter. They were someone’s family, and that matters.

Now, if you know me well, you’ll know that I’m always up to something. And I am. Again. If you know, don’t spill the beans. I’m giving nothing away. What I’m up to wasn’t even on the radar a week ago but when you go through life doing stuff and exposing yourself to new ideas and new ways of looking at things, then ideas come. It’s happened again. Ross caught me on the hop with the LCFN book at Christmas but let me just say that if we manage to pull this one off, it will quite possibly equal it. Watch this space: guessing is welcomed but probably futile.

One final thing for this week: The March miles have been both persistent and resolute. Indeed if it hadn’t been for the barking lurgi I’d have been looking at a full house and there’s only ever been one of those ever (Dec ’16). So it looks like I’m on for the best monthly return since last June, back in the days when I was still chasing down the 25K threshold. Winter is finally on the way out: spring is in the air.

And Everest is in sight.

Let’s do this: to the summit…

Author: Von Schiehallion

I'm an old endurance athlete who's pulled a few tricks in his time. I ran my first marathon at 19 round a grass athletics track, ran/hobbled 100 miles in a day at 30, cycled from Manchester to Glasgow in a day at 40, kickstarted the Highland March at 50 and now, at 60, I'm doing LifeCycle. Life's too short to sit still for long. I like doing stuff that just seems impossible...

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