Facebook…. it’s a magical thing. You see updates from friends and family instantly connecting you what they are getting up to, witnessing memories being made. I recall trolling my feed one day and a friend of mine Dan Maxwell was on his adventure to Everest to complete the Everest Marathon. I quickly became obsessed with the event updates and began looking more closely at what eventually I found out was the highest altitude marathon in the world.
The more I talked about it the more I slipped into the conversation “oh and I was thinking of doing it” to actually emailing my interest to the organisers. Before long, having spoken to almost everyone in my circle (and outside it!) about the event – I had started up a road to Everest.
Two and a half years away? That’s not too bad, that’s plenty of time, I can do this, I’ve got this! One biking event, which consisted of a 100km flyer from Taupo to Rotorua later and heck, only 18months away! Both Kirsten and I had entered into the 50th anniversary Rotorua Marathon, an event I didn’t want to miss. Athletes from all over the world competed. We said to ourselves that this time we knew what to expect out of our bodies but nothing could have prepared me for what was to come. I remember running really strong and hitting the halfway mark 21km at 1hour 50min – 10min faster than my personal best.
I was actually going to reach my goal of 4hours. I also remember thinking, in just 30min time someone is actually going to be winning this bad boy and how I was in awe of such an achievement. I was waiting for that wall that someone had curiously put up in front of me when I was nearing the 30km mark but this time around it wasn’t a wall it was something very different. Almost suddenly I heard an unusual noise in my shoe and questioned what it could be? Could I have just stood on something? Why is my foot feeling warm? Hang on it’s not warm anymore… it’s numb. I then realised that my knee had started to pull so much that it was twisting. I had suffered from a serious Tibia Band issue from the previous Marathon and it was back to haunt me.
I tried to ignore the signs of my body telling me to slow down and remember trying to tell myself “Mel this is nothing on Everest”, “Suck it up and carry on”, so I did. I definitely ran the second half of the marathon a lot slower. It felt like someone kept moving the signs at each km further away just for shits and giggles. Finally the last km, although this time there was no adrenaline fuelled sprint for the finish line! I felt as though my legs could no longer bend, as though I had unwittingly become Forest Gump’s stunt double from when he was shackled in leg braces. I looked at the time and just cried.
Despite my injury I had made it earlier than the last Rotorua Marathon but didn’t manage the 4 hours I told myself I would achieve. I laid on the grass with my darling girls desperate to see how mummy was as Dad approached to help remove my shoes. I had completely forgotten about the earlier noise by foot made and it wasn’t until dad slowly removed my shoe that I truly knew that something wasn’t right! There it was, my sock covered in blood. At first I wasn’t sure I wanted him to remove the sock, but a big part of me was also curious. What on Earth had I done? Surprise! My toe was facing the wrong way.
It all started making sense. My toe was dislocated to the point that it was facing the other toe and the nail had dug right into the next toe causing it to bleed. Ice on the swollen knee and tape of a rather odd looking toe then a well-deserved hot soak was in order – my favourite post event treat! The sleep that night was hideous and nothing made that post event recovery better.
I knew that I needed to step everything up a notch for Everest. This event served as a well needed wake up call as to the gravity of the challenge that lay ahead, but also as an affirmation that if my physical ability failed me, that my mental strength would prevail.