African X Day 3 – The big push over the top

Sitting in the breakfast hall looking around was a great feeling, we were all looking at each other but not saying much. We all knew what was coming, we all knew how we all felt. We just nodded or winked or waved at each other. It was a awesome feeling, like being part of a army, apart of something bigger, it was US against the route. We weren’t so much racing each other as we were the Route.

It was the shortest day of around 24km but wasn’t going to be the easiest as we were all badly damaged. The gun went off and I tried to settle into my stride but every step almost bought tears to my eyes, my left knee was so sore that every step I took ¬†felt like someone was stabbing me with a knife.

I popped a mild anti inflammatory tablet, stepped aside,stretched a bit and had a talk with myself about being in trouble before and surviving it and about sucking it up. I changed my running style and forced my myself to land on my heels and roll more which seemed to help stretch things out and as I warmed up it felt better but still very sore.

Managing my pain was hard but when you have a partner who is also in a similar spot it’s even more difficult. Jennifer was in a bad place without much experience on how to deal with it, so I was teaching her, this is what I wanted her to learn,How to suffer,How to switch your brain off and keep going. The process but breaking me into a 1000 little pieces but I knew she needed it more than me so I pushed through my own boundaries to help her.

At 1 point I looked into her eyes and she wasn’t really there and I smiled. At this stage I’d pushed her up almost every climb, we hadn’t walked much and we were running in a higher place than the last 2 days. With 6km to go all we both wanted was to get home.

Things are a bit blurry from this point as we both kept moving despite everything in us screaming to stop, we caught up to a few other teams and chatted a bit which helped.

Finally we could see the camp and I got goose bumps and had to hold back the tears, we had made it against the odds and survived, we crossed the finish line dazed and confused and went and fell straight into the pool.

My learnings and thoughts on the race will come later, for now it just feels like learning to walk all over again.

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