Almost a year ago I challenged myself to the extreme with Coast to Coast Scotland. It was a 170 km breathtaking course in the most mysterious and wild locations in Scotland. In 2 days we went from Nairn to Isles of Glencoe; cycling, running and kayaking. What an amazing but tough event it was!
How did I end up in Coast to Coast?
People who knew me 10-years back would never refer to me as the sporty type of person. I was a bit overweight (about 5-10 kg’s) and surely I wasn’t in a good shape. My priorities at that time were with my young family and with my career. A very stressful combination and I convinced myself I couldn’t find the time nor the need to exercise. 10-years back I couldn’t run longer than three minutes without gasping for air.
Sometimes I did an attempt, but finally not having enough character to carry on. Maybe you recognise this from your own behaviour. Then what made my behaviour change in the end? Well, the short answer is: I met Matthias, my new sporty partner, I noticed something during my yoga-classes and I was invited to a party.
Sports and exercise are life basics for Matthias. To him a healthy body is a healthy mind. But that was not what triggered me. I knew that already. I didn’t live it though, but I knew. In one of our many conversations on the need for exercise he told me about the quote on the wall of Nike’s co-founder Bill Bowerman. And this quote deeply touched me. It moved me. As if it always had been that obvious, but I just hadn’t noticed it.
Another insight happened during my Bikram yoga lessons. The teachers had wiry flexible bodies. Not overly muscular and not overweight. I realised in my childhood days (seventies), almost everyone had such a body. Body’s like the skeleton’s in a doctors practice. I was struck with an insight into what my body would transform when it was well taken care of. Something I hadn’t done for a long period of time.
If you read more of my blogs you know I investigate what unconscious believes trigger my behaviour. So I sat for a while with this question; when did I stop taking care of myself? Two thoughts appeared.
I was about 14/15 years old. At that time I was consuming chips and cola for lunch and dinner. And of course I gained weight; but I actually was happy with it. My body (hips, but, boobs) became more full, more female like and I liked it. I chose not to see the rest of my weight gain, but only focused on my new ‘assets’ :-). I wrote a previous blog on this matter called ‘The swan with elephant legs’. There you will also learn more about the party I was invited to and the impact it had.
About a year later one of my teacher’s told me: ‘Your good at all type of sports, but not really standing out in one particular‘. Although she most likely said it with best intentions, she was that type of teacher, I valued her remark as negative. I was offended! Probably she touched a sore spot already. At that moment I ‘decided’ exercise wasn’t my cup of tea. So petty!
Knowing is Acting
Once you know your own petty behaviour, you can’t go back and it’s time for transformation. In the past years I started working out again, but now with a different mindset and everyday I’m improving. My work outs range from Bikram yoga, tennis, running, strength training to dancing. I like to break the routine, to stimulate both body and mind, by trying something different. I can get really exited learning something completely new. And the same goes for challenges (check out my 10 days all sugar free). When Matthias came home one night showing me a video about an extreme event they where organising, I said let’s do this together! I wanted to challenge myself and be an athlete. Running 10km through the park, felt good, but not an athlete. In my mind more was required, I had to step up.
The event only allows for 300 participants and thus our difference in approach to training became clear. Matthias prefers ‘knowing if he can make the distance or not, before applying for a ticket’. So train first, then apply. My approach: ‘first secure a ticket, otherwise training doesn’t make sense’. And so for a period of time we did our regular running routine, discussing Coast to Coast, but nothing extra. In January things turned around. I received our registration for the event as birthday gift and all of a sudden we had to buy cycles (and a lot of gear that goes along with it, never knew how much you need to cycle). We started serious training, or so we thought….
Impressed and insecure
Our modest ambition for this course: reaching the finish line. And we assumed there would be more participants like us. However when we arrived I was impressed and intimidated. Only 23 women had signed up and I could overhear conversations on preparations for this event. Ranging from ‘Cycling around the Ijsselmeer’ (300km) and running one or multiple marathons. The majority was wearing shirts with a marathon’s name and some had done several iron man’s. And then there was us. What the hell were we thinking!!!!!
Coast to coast 2019
There was no way back. Step by step we worked ourselves through the course. Day 1 started with a run (11 km) and cycling on the road (78 km). Luckily it was cloudy, what made the top of the climb we had to make invisible. But I can assure you it was steep. We spent about 8 hours on the trail, but we made day one. Day 2 started with off road cycling (34 km), followed by road cycling (22km), another run (23 km) through the highlands of amazing Scotland and a final flat water kayak of 2 km. You cannot imagine how happy I was to use my arms. The last day took us about 10 hours to reach the finish line. When I heard the cheering and cowbell before the finish line, I was so emotional and thankful for their support, I cried. We both were relieved, proud and exhausted. We finished 289 and 290, but who cares! I felt like an athlete.
PS For the ones interested in a visual impression of the race, the organisation created an after-movie.