Achieving any long-term goal, such as the BG, inevitably leads to a "challenging" period which can feel a bit empty...physically and emotionally.
As expected, for some days after the BG, walking wasn't easy! Getting up from my sleeping position on the ground the next day was comical...I could get onto all fours, but hadn't the strength to lever myself into a standing position!
That didn't last too long though, and the only physical legacies I appeared to have were a very sore arch on the left foot (I suspect it's "collapsed" a little) and toenails on both big toes that have turned black. The left foot in particular looked pretty horrible, with the nail having been driven into the skin causing inflammation and swelling across the whole foot, which meant a quick trip to A&E to check I hadn't broken a bone somewhere under there.
But all that's behind me now. The foot's still a little niggly, but not too bad. Lethargy still remains though. We've been out walking on the hills since, including a trip up a couple of small Wainwrights, a day on Ilkley Moor and dragging my son and his girlfriend up Snowdon :-) But running isn't really on the agenda.
Last weekend, I did feel about ready to start again. Running leg 1 with Andy would have been great, alternatively a Paddy recce would have been nice, but fate conspired against me, and I'm now struggling with a trapped nerve in my neck. Is this a BG legacy? Who knows. The osteo reckons it's nowt serious and won't take too long to be better, but running's a no-no for another week :-/
Mentally, the first couple of days were a massive high. The grin didn't leave my face. To be fair, it rarely has since. I am really pleased to have done the BG. But, of course, me being me, it's not good enough and it's not the "end" which I always said it might be.
For a start, you can't help looking back and wondering, wishing you'd done a better time. So daft really...I always said that IF I could do the BG, it would be somewhere between 23.30 and 24 hours. Instead, it was 23.20. But, on the day, I was more than capable of easily doing sub-23 and, if I'd known I was going to feel so good all day, I know I could have done nearer 22.30.
The positive side of not seeing it as the "end", though, is that almost immediately, I started to think "what's next?". The obvious thing to look at is the Paddy Buckley. North Wales is where I got my early experience on the mountains, my Dad taking me up Snowdon when I was 5 years old, and then up plenty more of the Welsh summits during my childhood. I much prefer Wales to the Lakes, it has a much "wilder" feel to it, and I'm really looking forward to reacquainting myself with the area.
Obviously, what I've really taken from the BG is the fact that I CAN do these long distances. My eating strategy worked well, my legs and body held up, mentally I got into the right frame of mind....this augers well for the future. And, I guess, the other thing I've taken from it is that I finally feel qualified to call myself a "fellrunner"!
In the short to medium term, several people told me that I'd hit a bit of a low at some point in the weeks after the big day. To be fair, it hasn't been too low, but I'm certainly feeling a bit irritable, a restlessness with life and impatient to move forward again.
But there is SO much to look forward to! 2 weeks on Tuesday, I'm getting married to the most wonderful lass on top of a Scottish mountain!! What could be better, or more fitting after all the support she's given me. Kirsten received a text from someone (who shall remain nameless) after the BG saying that this person thought I was so much stronger mentally these days, that it had been a major factor in my getting round, and that the person felt Kirsten should take a lot of credit for that. What a wonderful text to send, and so much truth in it.
And there's our future to plan and look forward to. We can do anything we want to together. That will inevitably mean us living up in Scotland in the near future. Definite plans aren't yet made, and other things may crop up which open up new and different possibilities, but we'll end up in Scotland sooner rather than later!
It's been a long year, but ultimately, it's been full of positives. It's been (quite literally) an up and down rollercoaster of a ride, but I wouldn't change a moment of it. Anything worth achieving has to be worked at, and there's nothing more satisfying than seeing your hard work pay off.
Come next Spring, I hope to be able to offer support to more people who want to have a go at the BG, and help them to make their dream become reality. The fells, the solitude, the effort, the camaradarie, the tradition, the generosity of people, the chance to be out on the fells for a whole day...these are what makes the BG unique and it will always hold a special place in my heart.
39th Calderdale Hike 37mi. 01/04/2017.
6 months ago