Twenty One Today!

Back in the days when I used to do the Caley Thistle Highland March, I used to start my walking training in about October and really ramp it up once the clock ticked down under a hundred days to go. And I also remember how quickly those hundred days used to fly by: it was a case of get the miles in or be prepared to pay the price.

I mention it because the Ride2Cure starts in 105 days and it’s certainly not lost on me that once we get next week out of the way, the days will race by, and before I know it I’ll be at the Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital in Brisbane, wondering if I’m in a dream of my own making. The answer is probably yes.

For a long time, probably most of it actually, and certainly while I was coping with the Fenwick Muir both ways every day, I thought LCFN would go forever, or until such time as I physically couldn’t get on the bike anymore. But now that I know the end is coming, it can’t come fast enough in all honesty. I’m starting to feel just a little bit worn out. Maybe it’s the increased mileage in preparation for what’s coming down the tracks: maybe it’s just the fact that I don’t want to have to go out for three hours a day, every day, anymore. I think while LCFN was an infinite adventure, I was fine about it, but now there’s an end date, I just want it to be tomorrow. The game’s up. And one of the things that’s focussing my mind is that I’ve just put in 450 miles in the first eleven days of May, but that same distance has to be done is six days out of the traps in Brisbane, such is the schedule.

But before I can hang up my bike shoes and put the bike back in the shed for more than twelve hours at a time, I have some unfinished business: see when you’ve been at something for as long as I’ve being doing this, you crave to push the boundaries one last time because you know, deep inside, that this chance will never come knocking at your door ever again. Next Monday is going to be a crucial training day, the most important since that manic Saturday at the end of April when I pushed the boat out just to maintain the thousand mile months. Y’see today I bagged another 200 mile week, and with two days to spare. That’s 21 in a row, or every week this year if you prefer. But next week I’m in Liverpool on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Now you see why Monday matters…

I’ve said a number of times over the piece that one of the things that I’ve really appreciated about LCFN (note the past tense) is being able find where the magic happens: and I’ve been lucky enough to find it several times: the problem is, to be able to do that, you need to withstand an enormous amount of shit, both physical and mental, in order to give yourself a chance. Right now, I have a chance to put one of the best LCFN records to bed, but next week stands in the way. It’s the number of 200 mile weeks in a row: it stands at 24, excluding holidays. I’m on 21 and I’ve waited almost six months for this chance. It’s my last chance to smash this one to smithereens.

I’ll be on a train at 6:30am on Tuesday so early morning miles are out of the question: and I’m not back until 9pm on Thursday night so Thursday miles are dubious also. Monday is key: I’ve been eyeing up Monday for about three weeks, trying to get my mind in gear. The physical side will take care of itself: fuel and liquid of plenty. I’ll be knackered when I get home on Thursday night, and we’re out on Friday night so Monday is crucial. I want a hundred miles. I want to climb onto the bike on Friday, refreshed (ha!) after three days off, my most since December, knowing that anything near 50 will make the weekend manageable. Saturday’s likely to be a wee bit shambolic after a Friday night party so that’ll have to be a quiet one. But I reckon if I can deliver a ton on Monday, then 22 double hundreds will be within reach.

It’s been a funny old week this one: I had my old mate Gringo and his good lady Dozza staying at the start of the week. Gringo and I go back to the days of the Highland March: like me, he was fascinated by the adventurousness of it all, and we’ve been best mates ever since. He stays in Coventry Nil which probably explains his somewhat downbeat outlook on life (he won’t mind me saying that – he used to support Blues before he discovered Caley). Despite me being a Baggie and he a closet Blue, we do share a common passion in #SOTV.

Anyway, I digress. While I’ve been sat on an empty (teenage parlance for one’s parents being away), Jane’s been down south walking the Cornish Way with some old University friends. It’s a long story but the summary version is that Jane re-found one of them at a gig hosted by one of my Facebook friends and he happened to mention that both he and another old Uni pal, who Jane was at school with in Inverness forty years ago, do a long distance walk every year. She knocked it back last year because of her imminent Sports Massage finals, but this year she’s away keeping the men in check. Word has it Jane’s in charge of the kitty.

As if a working average of 41 miles a day wasn’t enough these last couple of weeks, I threw my hat into the ring on Wednesday night to help out at the foodbank collection at Celtic Park. I cannae remember when I did my first one but I’m only too well aware that shifting a couple of tons of food from the four corners of the stadium into a central point, then loading it up into vans for distribution across Glasgow, all while the game is on, is both a challenge and a back breaking exercise. Wednesday’s collection was made all the more difficult because it lashed it down with rain in the hour before kick off, so in addition to receiving full bags of stuff, you were rummaging through them, trying to locate and secure anything packed in paper (sugar!!!) or cardboard (cereals and tea bags for starters). And all the time you were bent over the bags, you were getting soaked right through to the skin. It was a bloody cold, miserable evening, but see once we’d shifted all the stuff and got it back to base, it was a time to reflect on a job well done. I really appreciate being one of the team working on the collection: I counted fifteen pairs of hands in a human chain from the van to the container back at Calton Parish Church: a mixture of old faces and new ones too. And what I love most is not being a diehard Celtic supporter like the others, I can just be me, doing it because I know it makes a difference to someone, somewhere.

And so to my other passion: my work. While I’ve not been on the bike, I’ve been diligently working away, developing a rule driven database that supports a virtual (ie completely fictitious) medical practice. I’ve had the patients for a couple of months, all configured according to the gender/age profile of the UK population. But these last couple of weeks, I’ve been working on the business rules to seed those patients with conditions in line with national stats: the rules stipulate, for example, that X% of males aged between 45 and 54 have a BMI of 30 to 35, and that Y% have a BMI of between 35 and 40. But the rules are cleverer than that: I’ve termed them co-morbidity rules because what happens when the rule engine runs, it not only codes the primary codes, it then goes down a level and codes A%, B% and C% of those patients with other conditions, also defined by national statistics by gender and age: those are the co-morbidities. So what you end up with in the database, for example, is percentages of people who’ve been configured with type 2 diabetes also being configured with cardiovascular disease, hypertension, obesity and depression. It’s powerful stuff, and it allows clinicians to develop new screening tools for disease, totally offline from actual patient data, and in a world where data is about to become ever more protective, that can only be a good thing. Two years on, I no longer give a shit that SPX didn’t value my skills: I was better than them anyway.

So LCFN rolls on. It’s never been easy, and it certainly ain’t easy right now, but I can see the light at the end of the tunnel: it’s 127 days away: a hundred and wum. When I finally reach Adelaide, I’m guessing that Amelie and I will have a forever kind of a hug that will give the Leona hug a run for its money. And there will be tears. I just know there will be tears.

But that’s for then, this is now: the 200 mile weeks just keep on coming…

Twenty one today!

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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