It’s been a beautiful, exhausting, illuminating week in India - and now we’re off to Hong Kong and China. Still running a marathon a day, now over a third of the way through my 100 marathons in 100 days… Phew.
What would I do without my support team? I certainly wouldn’t be running 100 marathons - and I wouldn’t have made it to marathon 25 (today!) So I thought it was time to introduce you to my wonderful team.
I’ve had a lot of opportunity to think about what drives me - what people call grit. The thing that’s got me running through Uzbekistan and the Middle East and all these places around the world. The thing that drives me to push myself beyond what I thought was possible.
Wow, what a week it’s been! France and Italy, some deep exhaustion and some equally deep appreciation for this crazy journey we’re taking together.
Running along the River Thames and it’s marathon number 3. Today was very special because I was joined by Dr. Liz Goodwin of the WRI. She ran 12.3km with me to represent SDG 12.3 which is, of course, sustainable consumption and production patterns.
So I’m back in my hotel after running my first marathon of 100: the New York City Marathon. I’m just doing my stretching, and reflecting on this super crazy, amazing, long day. One marathon down, 99 to go! Here’s what it was like…
In the middle of the cappuccino colored sands of the Atacama Desert, with miles of dusty rock strewn ground stretching to the horizon, I sat beside the trail. I was exhausted. Physically, mentally and emotionally. I had given everything I had to my effort to run across 7 Deserts on 7 Continents in just 7 Weeks. It was a ridiculously ambitious goal for someone who was a self-confessed non-runner, and the reality of the whole thing was setting in with a vengeance.
People often express jealousy at the amount of travel I do. Between travelling to see potential and existing sponsors, talk to people and organisations about water, and give speeches, I’m often on and off planes. I’ve just arrived in New York City now, ready to begin my most epic challenge yet - in 5 days.
I was in the USA recently on a far-too-brief trip to do some publicity for one of my sponsors. That sounds so fancy now I’m writing it! Had you asked me even a year ago if I’d write a blog that says that, I’d just have laughed at you. But anyway – the daily disbelief of what I’m doing is the subject of other blogs.
A couple of weeks ago, I went to see my new massage therapist. He’s a man called Garry Miridis and, amongst other things, he used to look after Cathy Freeman. Yes – the Cathy Freeman.
It took me a long time to get up the courage to see him. He is, after all, a complete guru in the athletic world, with a reputation for putting athletes back together. I’m learning that the world of professional or elite sport involves lots of walking a fine tightrope between health and injury.
A few days ago I had a long discussion with my brilliant Melbourne-based physio Ali Low and my new athlete manager Tim Cole. We were talking about an injury that has literally stopped me in my running tracks – over the past 10 days or so, I have been forced into the pool and stressing on a daily basis about the fact that I’m well….not running.
Their view was that whilst there may indeed be something causing aggravation in my hip, the sense of pain is being over interpreted by my brain. This is causing me to sense incredible pain, and in response, my brain shuts down the muscles around that area.
Let’s be clear: all the MRI scans I’ve had of the area are negative. Negative for stress fracture, negative for any major injury. Negative for everything other than some minor wear and tear expected of someone “my age” (yup that’s what 47 years on the planet does for you!).
Ali has done all the clinical tests, bending my hip every which way, poking and prodding my back and testing everything she can think of. Everything shows up negative.
There is literally no clinical explanation for the pain I’m feeling.
Picture this. It’s just turned 6am. It’s pitch black and outside it’s 4 degrees, but feels closer to zero. Wind careens across the ground, and rain is in the forecast.
I’m at the outdoor pool. The lights cast a dim yellow glow across the water. The heat from the water evaporates and condenses into a mist that hangs close to the surface. It’s so thick that you can’t see past the first set of flags hung across the pool. Today the flags blow in the wind. They’re my litmus test of the temperature and conditions, and they’re telling me that today it’s going to be bad.
I have a secret: I’m actually okay with not running. It’s nice to sleep in on a wintry morning and not have to go out into the cold trussed up like a chicken with water in my backpack that feels like it’s been in the deep freeze.
It’s fun to be able to go to brunch with my friends. To organise dinner and stay up beyond 9 pm. I have time in my day to get things done. And I’m not always fighting the mental and physical demons of exhaustion.
Yup. This not running thing is actually okay.
But here’s the deal. I believe in something far bigger than me. It’s this pesky thing that lurks around in the back of my mind. It’s my passion.
This November, I am lacing up my shoes for a third time. Each of my two previous challenges were 40 days. This time, my goal is to run 100 marathons in 100 days around the world. This run is all about getting a global community together to make changes as we try to stop the world’s water supply from running dry. I am measuring the success of this expedition not in kilometres run, but in changes we make because #EveryDropCounts.
“Mina, what is your Everest?” My Mama once asked me.
As I’ve pounded through the long miles of pavement, river banks, deserts and trails, I’ve
contemplated this question. I’ve thought about my passion, about what drives me. What
gets me up at 4am, and makes me run through monsoonal rains and extreme heat. What
makes the sacrifice acceptable, and has me committed to doing something I’m neither
naturally talented at, nor particularly enjoy. I’ve thought about my Everest. This is it...