Move on.

I sent this picture to a friend the other week, a friend who was having a tough time with something, someone.

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It’s spot on. Easier said than done, of course. I’m sure we’ve all been there. Toxic relationships, toxic friendships, maybe even toxic family or toxic work environment.

And sometimes, we cling on, even when we know we shouldn’t. Feeling bad, even though the brain tells us not to. Ending up not feeling good enough for someone, or understanding why something won’t go our way or someone won’t feel the way we want them to.

Relationships can be really fucking complicated. Or they can be easy. Or both. So many people stay in relationships that aren’t healthy, that are toxic. Relationships they really need to get out of. But yet they stay; for a variety of reasons. Scared to be on their own, scared they won’t find anyone else, children, financial reasons, sometimes abuse and control. Sometimes people don’t really realise they’re unhappy, but maybe they know they’re not happy but perhaps don’t feel it’s enough to do something about it. You know, sometimes people are looking for a reason to leave, and that if there’s not a big ‘thing’ that happens, then low level shit behaviour is not enough to leave or end a relationship/friendship etc.

Bollocks.

Just not being happy is enough of a reason. Of course it is. Yep, easier said than done, but also easier done than said sometimes. Short term pain, long term gain. If a relationship, friendship etc is making you unhappy, then you can do something about it. You don’t have to stay with that person. You don’t have to make a go of things, or make an effort.

Because that’s the ‘sunken costs fallacy’ that causes people to make poor relationship decisions. “I don’t want to throw away X years together” for example.

Are you basically saying to yourself that you’ve invested so much that you cannot notice your thoughts and feelings telling you to end this relationship? This divorces you from you inner thoughts and the quiet feelings that might guide you in your life and you can end up in a neglectful relationship with yourself. In other words, thinking about what already has been may prevent you from deciding what you want your life to be.

It’s a mistake to think that the amount of investment in a relationship automatically adds value to it. It doesn’t. The value of the relationship consists of what is happening in the present and in the future. The past is done. The past is useful in predicting the future, but the past by itself doesn’t actually add any value. The length of a relationship or the amount of effort put into a relationship doesn’t actually add value. If it’s clear that a relationship won’t serve you in the future, your previous investment in the relationship won’t change that and you’ll still be in the same position.

Yes, it’s hard, but don’t let the rest of your life be dictated by what has been. It doesn’t have to continue to be. What your future contains is down to you.

And so to my friend, I told them, yeah, I know you can’t just turn off feelings and all that, but you can try to look at things objectively, look at what’s been and what could come, think about your own integrity and self worth and realise you’re worth more, much more than that little crapbag who wasn’t the person you thought, who wasn’t the person you fell in love with. That person never existed. You don’t need someone else to validate you or make you happy. That comes from you. Other people just compliment that.

Go be a bourbon drinking dancing unicorn instead.

 

 

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Surf’s Up.

It started like any good weekend away; with a ROAD TRIP! I get ridiculously excited about road trips for some reason. To me, it’s not just a pain in the arse to get out the way before something exciting, it’s the start of the excitement. All you need is other people in the car (solo road trips are fun, just not as fun), some tunes (taste optional) and snacks (mandatory, always mandatory). Good weather and shades also help make a road trip go from great to awesome, but, given that we live in England, we are realistic that this will not happen in the majority of UK road trips, so we can live without. In order for a road trip to go smoothly, some kind of navigation aid is crucial. In this day and age, normally a postcode is punched into an electronic device and tech does the rest. NOT THIS TIME PEOPLE! We had the old fashioned sat nav; a.k.a an actual map. After confirming that yes, Nigel actually didn’t have google maps (I didn’t realise that could happen) I had to read a road atlas. In a trip down memory lane, I soon realised why google maps are SO AWESOME (please don’t ever take them away from me) and was reminded of learning to drive and not realising how maps and road signs actually worked together.

Surprisingly, after no wrong turns at all, some questionable music, cucumber and carrot stick snacks (it’s what Sian does you know) we arrived in glorious technicolor sunshine at Surf Snowdonia, our home for the next couple of days. While we laid out in the sun, basking in this Welsh phenonemon, the others arrived. We decided to visit the pub go for a walk while we waiting for the rest. Soon, we were introduced to Rich’s incredible short-cutting skills, “a must for any trip away”, Bev explained, fond memories being recounted of ‘those times when…’. Losing track of time due to an extremely intellectual debate on the EU referendum, we realised that although Adam had decided to try out the new ‘congested route’ option on google maps (and had great success), they had actually arrived. Bev and I decided to start our activity weekend with a gentle jog to go meet them, which, after quite a few beers and no sporting wear (i.e. sports bra), went better than expected.

Giddy with excitement (or it could have been the fair few drinks and no food) we all skipped off to the restaurant, only to be met with panic and confusion from the restaurant who thought we had booked/hadn’t booked/should have booked/had 15 vegans. A few conversations with Stewart later, all was smoothed out when it seemed the main issue was just that they had to sit us in a slightly different area of the bar/restaurant. Which actually was completely irrelevant as it all had a hotel-lobby feel anyway and all we wanted to do was eat and drink, not admire the table dressings.

A good nights sleep later (actually it was, those pods had pretty comfy mattresses – OK they were plastic pee-proof, but still, they were thick enough that you didn’t feel your spine digging into a bit of wood, plus the snoring-stick did not have to be used), it was time to prep up for our Snowdon HIKE. Hike is in capitals here to make the point it is NOT A STROLL. Poor Emma had been told by Adam that we were just off on a little walk, so they win the Most Unprepared award for not realising this was proper walking boots-water-snacks & lunch walking territory. I later asked Adam if he had not read all the details on the Facebook page but apparently he only reads “the first bit then I don’t bother”. Luckily for him Emma takes it all in good spirits, Elena brought enough food to feed 3 (Lucian’s share) and we revel in the fact we have more piss-taking material on Adam to add to the pot.

Talking of food and awards, Maya wins the Most Food Ever award. I have never seen so much food brought (and made/sliced/diced/prepared) for a couple of nights. And I swear the box was still full when we took it back out the other end. But not shit food though, good, proper food, green stuff and all sorts, it was like having our own healthy chef with us!    

And talking of awards, Elena wins the Most Style award. From her silk kimono for camping to her colour co-ordinated mountain wear fashion range and perfectly big-curl hair, big sunglasses and even bigger smile, this is one stylish laydee.

In typical group-organisation style, we all jump into separate cars with only a vague idea of where we’re going. Nigel, confident even without google maps, decides to follow Elena (who does have tech) ‘just in case’. We head off in Ben’s car, stopping by the shop for essential supplies, adding a time delay dimension into the race-to-Pen-Y-Pass Car Park. Sat nav (not google maps, I hasten to add) takes us a beautiful (but bouncy) scenic way and we rock up at the car park, only to be met by a ‘Car Park FULL’ sign. Logical thing to do was for me to hang out the window and ask where we can park. Cue the cones being moved and blokey pointing to a space in the upper level. WIN. As it happened, there were actually 3 spaces up there, so we raced back down to the entrance to see if we could see the others (because of course, this being in the mountains there was no phone signal – this is important). After what felt like a statistically significant time period, we soon realised they must have passed by and headed to the park and ride car park a few miles down the road. As we were at the start point for the track we wanted to do, we decided to stay put. What we didn’t realise is that the others were doing pretty much the same thing, only they had some phone signal so had sent text messages and voicemails saying where we were and for us to meet them there. Of course, we never got these, and it also didn’t occur to us that they would think we hadn’t got into the main car park. Still, we had a lovely hour or so in the sun chatting to the wardens and watching the 24hr 3 peak challengers arrive. Only when Elena drove up did we all realise what had happened. Ha-ha-ha.

Bev wins the award for Most Alcohol Drunk But Least Effects Seen, based on previous events but also having been asked if she was running up the mountain by a young chap, clearly impressed by her form.

So reunited, but feeling like we were a lot later starting that we had hoped (we weren’t really), we all started marching up the Pyg Track at some pace and soon realised it was pretty steep and pretty muggy to be doing too much of that. Claire was having some trouble with her ankle and unfortunately (but sensibly) decided to drop out fairly early on. I personally think it was a possible ploy to go and flirt chat with first aiders all day.

Injury count = 1

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We trekked on, up and down with some cracking views. Last time I did this track it was gale force winds and driving rain, and I never saw a thing. This time was much more pleasant (and sweaty). Unbeknown to us, while we were walking along Linda was devising a cunning plan to make Adam carry some weight, given his unprepared-no-backpack status, and threw herself onto some rocks, bashing her shin pretty bad and requiring the freeze gel. Don’t forget a first aid kit when hiking folks!

Injury count = 2

There’s a few things you should always carry when hiking, especially up mountains. Weather can be changeable, so always carry layers and things like hats, gloves etc. Water and food for energy. Maps, camera. And maybe a carabiner and rope? Yes, according to Ben. What he thinks he can do with this bit of string rope I don’t know, but Inga explained ropes and carabiner are to Ben what a blanket is to a child and it keeps him happy.

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A scenic lunch later (with Sian nearly taking out walkers with apple cores and Linda delighting everyone with proper nice cookies), more going uphill and a stretch of walking with Sherbert, the miniature Schnauzer we made it to [nearly] the top. We decided to have a group photo just below the summit because there were still [some] views and the top was covered in cloud. Good job we did, the summit was like Picadilly circus and there was an actual queue to get to the top trig point (needless to say, we didn’t bother and just had fights with midges instead).

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Toilet done, midges fought, selfies taken, we headed back down. Bev’s dodgy ankle was playing up and the cars were in different locations so we split into two groups for the descent. Alex, Ben, Inga and myself went back down the Pyg Track to join the Miners Track with the rest doing the Llanberis Path. Rich regained the Most Likely To Get Lost award for suggesting another short cut which, I heard, wasn’t actually that short.

Injury count = 2 1/2 (technically not a new injury)

Our fantastic four group had a lovely stroll down. No short cuts here but a quick paddle in the lake for Ben, and Alex got to gossip to her hearts content. You can’t quiet that one up at all when she gets going 😉

Back at the ranch the mood was jovial as we’d got the hard bit out the way, it didn’t rain and of course we’d all earned that beer/prosecco/cider/any alcohol. Nigel was impressing everyone with his Big Job before we’d had enough of that and headed back over to the restaurant, with Stewart and the team slightly calmer this time as 1) we’d booked in and 2) we’d become friends and he loved us. Food eaten, back to pod life for a bit of a guitar sing song around the [metaphorical] campfire while we waited for Lucian who was on an epic late night drive. He was in for a treat when Elena headed to the gate in just her dry robe and not a lot else, but suspect that it wasn’t quite the treat he was hoping for when he ended up being in a sauna with 5 of us at 2am. Or maybe it was (although it wasn’t that kind of sauna action). When we finally figured out how to make the bubbles bubble in the hot tub, we enjoyed some relaxation until a ghostly apparition appeared at the fence, scaring us all. The Welsh ghost of Father Christmas, we were a bit worried he was going to tell us off for being in the hot tub but no, he just fancied a bit of a chat as I’d guess he was a bit bored and lonely wandering around at 3am by himself.

Sunday blasted into life with a massive blue sky and a huge hot yellow thing in the middle of it. This pleased everyone. Today was surfing and water activity day! So better to be hot while plunging into cold water,yes?

Some of the guys went surfing. Yes, surfing in the middle of Snowdonia, no where near the coast. A mechanical wave runs up and down this lagoon. The surfers tell me it’s nothing like being on the sea but fun nonetheless. Alex enjoyed it as she got chatted up by an attractive man in a wetsuit (although got spectacularly cock blocked by Ben. Fail). Ben mangled his already-mangled toes on the seam of the bottom of the lagoon. The rest just appeared to be having a massive laugh with some up time on the boards. To be honest, I was too busy talking perfect portfolio careers with Inga and sunbathing with Bev to watch properly.

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Injury count = 3 1/2

Surfing over, next up was Crash and Splash. Like a wipeout water obstacle course and <dramatic pause> The Blob (an inflatable thing where one person sits at the end and others jump off a platform onto the other end making them rocket into the air). This is one of those things that looks less scary/more fun than it actually is. Not only do you have to jump off a platform and land a certain way (this is HARD, well it was for me) you then sit at the end and wait with baited breath until you’re flung for [what seems like] miles in the air and have no control on how you land. Although it is much fun watching everyone’s less-than-graceful (except Emma, she was uber-graceful) landing. Inga must have had significantly more weight ‘blobbing’ her as she went pretty damn high, and managed to land in a way that winded her. However, this has earned her the Most Impressive Blob award. She also totally rocked at the monkey bars (while taking most of the skin off her hand pad bits near the bottom of your fingers – no idea what that bit of your hand is called).

Injury count = 5 1/2

The final activity of ‘get out of your wetsuit’ was slightly less energetic and once completed, a weary set of BMFers headed back out into the sunshine, ready to eat/drink/drive home/sleep/collapse*. Lots of hugs later, the group dispersed, all to go our separate ways. Some straight home, some stayed and had lunch, some of us stayed and had a nap in the sun before heading home. *delete as appropriate

And heading home now means another ROAD TRIP! Only when heading home, it’s just a plain old road trip. No capitals. Everyone’s weary, everyone’s tired, sad it’s over. There’s probably no snacks, no singing, no chatting. Definitely sleeping. This had not gone unnoticed by Nigel. Nigel decided to go to extreme efforts to get out of driving once he realised all his passengers were asleep by having a twisted ankle, not mentioned previously but clearly causing pain now. This did mean though that a shop stop was called for, and snacks were purchased. This perked everyone up, and after a while at the side of the road with Nigel getting his leg up in full view of the queue of traffic, we swapped drivers, made sure Nigel’s ankle was the comfiest in the car with a little pillow to rest on and the road trip turned into a Road Trip! Not quite full capitals, but enough to lift the car energy to at least – BOOM – keep us all awake.

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Final injury count = 6 1/2

That’s not too bad – less than half of us. There might have been some that I have forgotten. Because, it wouldn’t be a BMF weekend without any injuries and both identified and unidentified bruising. Lesson: always pack the freeze and ibuprofen gel. ALWAYS HANDY.

All in all, a top weekend, made top predominately by the people who were there. Often it’s not what you do but who you do it with. And this crew are the best. You all rock, THANK YOU ALL for a brilliant weekend.

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What’s next?

Rat Race Dirty Weekend

Finally got around to writing about the recent Dirty Weekend. Not, not that kind of dirty weekend (tsk), this was the Rat Race Dirty Weekend event at Burleigh House in Stamford earlier this month.

20 miles, 200 obstacles. They claim it’s the ‘world’s biggest obstacle course’ and invite people to come and show whether they’re hard enough (similar to that other type of dirty weekend really). I’d heard about this event a couple of years ago when Vic B had suggested we do it (I think we’d not long done the Wolf Run). I think I remember telling her she was a twat and to sod off, like how the hell could I run 20 miles, let alone with 200 obstacles. So, it was with bemusement that I found myself standing in the starting pen for that very race this year, asking myself not for the first time, what the hell I was doing.

When I took someone’s ticket in about October last year it was far enough away to promptly forget all about it. Back then, it sounded like a fun weekend that loads of people from BMF were off to and I’d get FOMO. I basically just wanted to join in the after party really, but I know I’d also not be able to stand by and watch everyone else go running. And besides, I do actually really love throwing myself into mud and over walls. No really, I do. When I used to watch the Krypton Factor as a kid, I’d always want to do the obstacle course. That and the film where you’d have to look out for difference and stuff. Observation round – that was it! Sod the shape sorting thing, get me outside. Me and my brother made various obstacles when we were younger but never a whole course. Think we ran out of spare wood.

Anyway, winter skipped along. Christmas came and went. I went on holiday. Spring started. Work project went live. Easter brought chocolate. My birthday happened. Then, all of a sudden, that weekend was a week away. I think all of us from BMF who were doing it collectively thought “Fuck!”. It crept up, the sneaky little bastard. So, with training consisting of runs when I could, hikes, hitting gym classes and trying to BMF the shit out of the week I was as prepared as I could have been.

First things first, this is not just an obstacle race, this is a weekend. Friday to Sunday with pre-parties and after parties and everything in between. It’s brilliantly organised from start to finish, so hats off to Rat Race for making everything run like clockwork (or at least seem like it). From the booking process online all through the email comms, then parking, registration, facilities, race and marshalls, finish, after party and clear up, it was top notch.

I’m not going to go through everything because that would a) take AGES and b) probably be dull for you. So let’s try and keep it in a nutshell-cat-page . The dirty weekend started on Friday with a ROAD TRIP. Everyone knows a road trip has to involve SHOTGUN and the worlds ROAD TRIP in capitals. We did this with Adam being a sore loser about shotgun, Sian slating my music choices, me trying (and failing) to work Ben’s SD card media thingy and Ben just trying to make sure he’s going the right way.

Arriving in good time (but still later than we’d thought) we parked up and skipped off like four eager beavers to find registration and the campsite, only to realise how fucking far away the car park was. For people that were planning on running 20 miles the next day this seemed unnecessary energy wastage. We got through registration, felt sick marvelled at the last obstacle (5 shipping containers high) and found the BMF campsite at near full capacity. So with some fence manoeuvring we claimed our corner patch with the same triumph as I imagined Christopher Columbus felt when discovering America.

Most of us had our tents up before Adam had even got his pole out so had time to figure out where all the most important facilities (toilets, showers, bar, waffle truck) were. Elena arrived hoping to smash the record for the smallest tent in the world and actually smashed the quickest tent erection record. We never did try the ‘most people in the smallest tent in the world record’. Next time. Next to the smallest tent was the Mansion Tent, still put up before Adam had finished whatever he was faffing around with. Surprisingly, Bev was not on the cider at this point, preferring to abstain, but we made up for her and had a good luck beverage. Not as many as the Dutch Mud Men and Mudstacle groups though, who presumably had read a study about how getting smashed and staying up late (and being LOUD) the day before a 20 mile ocr is excellent preparation. I’m not sure my body could handle that amount of preparation.

Race morning comes, and we had to get up at something like 6am for our start at some time around 8. I never actually knew what exact time we were starting, instead choosing to do what I normally do at BMF and rely on someone else to know what is going on. It was an exciting morning for me, as I got to try out my new Trangia mini camping stove for the first time to cook my porridge. This was important as this is the stove I’m planning on using if (when) I go on a bike adventure, and needed to test out whether I could work it without setting fire to myself, my tent or someone else. Test passed, hurrah!

Lucy brought out the camo paint for the obligatory BMF stripes. Harry, founder of BMF gave us words of encouragement (and a t-shirt). Ibuprofen taken, snacks prepared and various body parts were strapped and taped up. Sian’s head was not complete without the camo buff and Toby got into the beo-uff spirit by making his into horns. Pre-race joviality amongst the slight nervousness (yes, Adam actually admitted he was nervous, but shhh, don’t tell anyone). For anyone who doesn’t know, these races have ‘waves’ where a certain amount of people start the race at the same time. This mean that we are all herded into pens where we all wait, the air tight with anticipation and impatience. There was a pre-race warm up where there is a extremely attractive BMF instructor; which distracts the nerves of most of the women for a short while. And then all of a sudden, there’s some incomprehensible words shouted into a microphone! Some music! A countdown! Air horn! Flares! AND WE’RE OFF! Reach and jump to touch the inflatable start line. Why? Because. That’s. What. You. Do. Running! Into a throng of people, flare smoke, cheering, spectators. And so it begins. “Do not think about it’s 20 miles. Do not think about how tired you are already. Do not think about how little sleep you have had.” says the little voice.

And so you don’t. Not for a while anyway, you try and keep up with the rest of your group and have a laugh jogging, climbing, jumping, crawling and admiring the views. Helping your friends and making sure everyone is through each bit. Making sure Bev is OK when she hits her back and head on a trampette after slipping. Congratulating Elena when she jumps off the top bit of the water jump (it was bloody high, involuntary scream-type high). Cheering Rich on for going on the monkey bars over the water while having a bit of a boogie to the singer. Being helped onto the water platforms by Toby, and helping him through the tyre birth canal. Jogging with Linda on the long stretches and all having a laugh at the food stops, especially the one with crisps where we were all shovelling them in like we’d not eaten for weeks (believe me, the 6am breakfast was a long time ago by that point). We had a combination of serious running, clambering and jumping and then a bit of dicking about. Toby and I enjoyed a gentle float and splash about in the reservoir (while Elena and a friendly chap from Belgium made sure Bev got safely across). I enjoyed doing somersaults over the bars in the forest pretending I was 8 again.

Mile markers were measured against Bev’s garmin, and each time it came out different, but at least it gave us something to talk about and distract from the fact that we were still only at 3 miles. We were carrying a BMF flag, that became as precious to us as a newborn baby, cradled and carried the whole 20 miles (although you probably wouldn’t throw a newborn baby over some of the obstacles like we did).

The weather was pretty fab too. Because YES, weather is important. Not too hot, but warm enough that you didn’t get hypothermia as soon as you hit any water. Sunny enough for strange tan marks and that “been outside all day” look. This also helps conversation afterwards when you’re running out of things to say because you’re tired or drunk and so can just point to body parts instead, and that person knows exactly what you mean.

Elena and I ended up splitting from the rest of our group at some point. Not sure exactly where, but it was before the 13 mile mark, as this was the point you could finish at a half, or carry on for the full 20. There was no question what we would do, but this point was marked with some weirdly shaped box things to clamber over. I tried one but had run out of a energy as it was just before a food stop, so I ended up being pulled up in a most ungracious fashion by one arm and one leg by some Dutch bloke. I ended up sprawled out on the top shouting “thank you” while him and his girlfriend shouted “no problem”, already leaping over the next one like gazelles. The Dutch preparation was clearly working well.

Elena and I made our way over the next 7 miles getting to know each other a bit more, chatting to strangers and realising our previous lives had more in common than we thought, like a secret club no one actually wants to be a part of. Before we knew it, we were on the last mile! That 19 mile marker got a whoop-whoop. We arrived smiling at an obstacle where the incredibly enthusiastic marshall told us there was only one more obstacle to go. Hurrah we thought! But no! That cheery-faced cherub WAS LYING. There was at least 3 or 4. With some last surges of energy (and a rather painful mishap where I fell off one of the obstacles and slid down the wooden battens and onto the floor on my back like a comedy sketch) we emerged down the final straight, running head first into The 5-Storied Beast. That final wall/cargo net/slide. We looked at each other! We could do it! Off we shot, like rockets (as fast as rockets go that have already been let off 20 miles previous), reaching the top like triumphant adventurers. I imagine it was rather the same feeling as Roald Amundsen must have had when he was the first man to reach the South Pole.

Stopping for a quick photo shoot13179260_10154081316726341_5012695865979688295_n and look around, we threw ourselves down the last water slide with more gusto than you’d expect of people that had just ran 20 miles. Easy to do when you know you’re nearly done.

And that was it. We’d done it. YAY!

A more civilised photo shoot later, with medals is the requisite proof that the event was actually completed, in case you wake up and think it’s all a dream.

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Race done, first up was a quick chat with the guys who’d already finished, but most importantly it was then time for a shower. This simple daily task that most people take for granted suddenly takes on the same importance scale of what you’re going to name your first born. It’s one of the Best. Feelings. Ever. Especially if it’s warm.

Then, all dry and cosy (especially if you have a DryRobe) it’s time for food and BEER (or just beer, but I wouldn’t recommend this – see below) and a chat with fellow survivors team mates about all the best bits, how great it was, who fell off what, who completed what and any funny bits along the way. All this while also shouting congratulations to all the people coming in, looking weary and muddy and tired but deliriously happy. Probably at the thought of beer and that they don’t have to climb over another bit of wood (for at least a few hours until they get drunk and forget there’s an entrance to the campsite).

Then, the party extends to other groups of people (either the wider BMF group or Sian and I infiltrating Mudstacle). Then the Party becomes the Official After Party where we head to a big tent to drink more drink, dance like mad loons (because we are all surprised our legs still work, and feel the need to show this with various high-knee type dancing, facilitated by the Reverend telling us to “fookin bounce”) until it gets late and we are thrown out of the Big Tent and we head back to the campsite where it’s like the race is actually a weird futuristic society-controlling drug that has put everyone into a coma by 12pm.

And so we wake on the Sunday morning, bleary eyed and weary but triumphant, each one remembering what we have achieved, both as individuals and as a team, proud as punch.

We move slowly to pack up, both to enjoy the sunshine some more and also because of stiff legs and sore heads. And after hugs and fond farewells, the road trip back home begins. It is no longer in capitals. There is no shouting of shotgun, just a slightly subdued journey (me with my head out the window but that’s more because of the amount of beer imbibed). The sense of achievement does not need to be spoken about (mainly because speaking takes effort) but is known amongst us all, waiting to be taken home to be shared with loved ones.

As a post on Facebook says [something like] “This was not just an obstacle race. This was a Dirty Weekend”.

As this is a kind of review (it’s not really, but nevermind), here’s a few handy tips for if you’re thinking of doing it next year:

  • There are plenty of snacks at the food/drink stops so there’s really not much need to carry extra with you, especially in a running bumbag which either cuts you in half or bulks up underneath a t-shirt making you either look odd or pregnant in photos. It is NOT flattering, although this could just be me. I have yet to find ANY race photos I’d actually confess they were me. Maybe carry gels if you like them, they can be stuck down socks/pants/bras/arse cracks. Apparently. I’ve not tried them but I have tried similar ‘sports’ bar type things when doing London to Paris which well, let’s just say, it wasn’t good. I’ll stick to the bananas.
  • The camping is miles away from the car park. Take a wheeled contraption to take over the million and one things you will need for camping. Prepare to completely forget where you park your car, even if it’s right near the front gate.
  • Stick with your mates or find someone who is interesting for at least the second half. Towards the end you will need someone to talk to to distract you from the countdown of miles (“seriously, how is it STILL only 17 miles?”) and hallucinations of beer you get from about mile 15 (“mmmm is that beer? Oh, no, it’s a rabbit.”).
  • DO NOT forget ibuprofen. It’s useful for EVERYTHING.
  • Eat something after you finish, preferably with protein and carbs. The temptation to just hit the beer is overwhelming and WILL result in a massive crash in the days afterwards. I have tried and tested this many times, so take my word for it. These kind of events take so much more out of your body than you realise, even if you feel OK. Be kind to your bod and give it some TLC after, it’s the only one you get (unless your shares in cloning or human robots come to fruition at some point in the future).
  • But DO take more booze than you think you’ll need. There is a somewhat frivolous atmosphere requiring a high level of celebration.
  • DO speak to as many random strangers as you can. They are interesting and funny and make for a fully rounded experience. Hug them if you can, especially if they are foreign and don’t understand you. They WILL love it.
  • Go for a shower as soon as you can after you finish. That shower will feel amazing and having a beer knowing that you’re not sitting with mud up your arse is pretty special.
  • Take lots of pictures but don’t forget to stop and look around and up every once in a while. Remember the smiles and look of satisfaction on the faces of the people around you, the constant positive energy of the marshalls, the bright lights of a party done well and the stars in the sky once it’s all over and the world is quiet.

Don’t just take my word for it, oh no. Watch Ben’s most awesome gopro video of the weekend here. It’s bloody AWESOME, has great music and just sums up the whole weekend.

All this is more than just running around outside and getting muddy. It’s about trying something new and pushing yourself. It’s about facing fears and doing it anyway. It’s about seeing what your body is capable of. It’s about doing something different with your weekend and not watching the world through someone else’s screen. It’s about maxing the shit out of life, if this is your idea of fun. But most of all, it’s about the people you do it with. The people that help you over that fence, old friends, new friends or strangers. The people that help you on that water jump. The people that keep you going when you think you’re fading. Being part of a team, a collective. The people that make you laugh. The people that share their prosecco or big tub of rice. The people that you make memories with.

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That’s what BMF is so great at. It provides you a ready made team, a set of buddies to do crazy shit like this with. Full of friends from the off, whichever park you’re at.

Give it a go, what you got to lose?

 

 

Life after divorce.

Life after divorce (or a breakup). By the time you’re in your 30’s and having a relationship breakdown, marriage isn’t necessarily the default but chances are you’d got to a point in your relationship where you were the last ones in your friendship groups to tie the knot and both of you thought it was probably about time you spent thousands of ££ on a big party where you’d invite a load of people you probably won’t speak to 5 years on.

So, once you’ve paid out more thousands of ££ for solicitors to undo the bit that you signed before the big party, what do you do? Easy! Follow this guide* to getting through that breakup and starting life again (aka have a life crisis):

  1. Get your hair cut in a new and funky style by the junior stylist (because the divorce wiped you out and you cant afford the salon director any more). Exclaim “it’s fab! Just what I always wanted!” with hysterical gusto while crying silently inside and wondering what your head would look like shaved.
  2. Take up a sport. Doesn’t matter which one, just do something to help lose more weight in addition to the 3 stone you’ve already lost through stress and a diet of alcohol and biscuits.
  3. Shag someone at least 10 years younger than yourself. Just remember not to engage them in conversation. Unless of course you do actually care about Justin Bieber or Harry Styles’s hairdo.
  4. Go on Tinder and other online dating apps/websites. Spend a few days chatting to John from Peterborough because he’s the only person who has messaged you before you realise you don’t actually care about the steam engine show he went to at the weekend or how many cabbages he is growing. Realise you have lost all self respect and delete apps in a fit of self pity and loathing.
  5. Join an internet forum based on shared interests. Realise after a week you have not slept or showered or gone to work, but you do have thousands of new friends who ‘get you’.
  6. Wear short shorts. You’ve lost 3 stone through the breakup diet and realised you don’t give a fuck about anything any more.
  7. Do household chores without any resentment towards the lazy shit you used to live with. Realise you actually like housework. Skip around with the hoover like Mary Poppins! Get bored and fed up. Give up on housework and eat biscuits instead when you remember the mantra ‘fuck the fucking housework’.
  8. Eat pizza from the box. Because you can’t be arsed to wash a plate up and because your body is now craving carbs following the break up diet initial stages.
  9. Don’t get dressed for 2 days. No one will see you! No one will judge, not even Phil the Postman. And besides, he likes your onesie, he said so that time.
  10. Go to bed with your make up on. After all, you’ve given up dating after Peterborough John, so no one will see you in the morning. And besides, you’ve always admired the Absolutely Fabulous look.
  11. Go on a singles holiday. All your mates are still married or have kids so you have no friends left anyway, so why not join other desperate singles trying to appear like they’re just there for a holiday and not there to find someone else to marry to avoid being alone for the rest of their lives.
  12. Go on an activity holiday. You’ve given up on the singles holidays because Greg from Southampton mistook your ‘let’s have a nightcap’ drunken shout out in the bar for something completely different which then triggered an incident involving hotel security, a flannel, a bowler hat and some chocolate mousse. At least an activity holiday means you don’t have to pretend to be interested in Joanne’s stories from her time in the Accounting department at the local council because you’re too busy hanging off a rock the size of a pea on a cliff face while mentally chastising yourself for not making a will.
  13. Shag someone from work. If you really want to keep things amusing try either someone from your own department or your boss. Or your boss’s boss. This way meetings will be interesting as you’ll just be picturing them naked.
  14. Get a cat. Decide one cat isn’t enough. Get another one so they can occupy each other while you’re at work picturing your boss naked. Decide against getting another one because you realise you’re in danger of becoming crazy cat lady.
  15. Contemplate getting a dog because you read somewhere it’s a good way to meet people. Realise you probably can’t get a dog because you now have cats. Read about a cat cafe. Decide to visit one as an alternative way to meet people. End up just meeting lots of crazy cat women.
  16. Wonder how long your eggs have got left before they start shrivelling. Wonder about freezing them then realise how much that costs. Make a point of visiting friends with horrid children to put you off the idea of spawning.
  17. Rediscover (or discover) tequila slammers. Who knew how much fun some salt, a lemon and some incredibly foul tasting alcohol could be?
  18. Get hideously drunk at a wedding and behave inappropriately. Drink tequila slammers (because they’re fun, remember), fall over on the dance floor, fall off chairs, flash your knickers, kiss your friends uncle in front of the whole family including his children, leave your hand bag at the venue and make your friend homeless for the night, eat the whole cheeseboard even though you don’t like cheese and other things that you will never remember because you drank so much tequila. Just remember to mention you’re recently divorced/separated/single, because this may go some way to excusing your behaviour.
  19. Spunk £3000 on a bespoke, hand made in Italy, cream fabric sofa. Because your ex loved black leather.
  20. Spill red wine on sofa. Throw white wine on it. Clean it up as best you can. Realise it’s futile and that even if it cleaned up you’d probably just do it again. Go out and buy big cushions instead.
  21. Cry for 3 days solid. Realise you’re crying more over a sofa than your ex. Realise you’ve turned a corner.
  22. Try Zumba because Jill from Reception had a spare pass to the gym. Realise you have all the grace and finesse of a baby elephant but enjoy the hip wiggling and freestyle. Make friends with Claire and Sophie. Start going to fitness weekends at Butlins where you spend just as much time drinking Blossom Hill and dancing to 80’s tunes as you do going to Body Pump and Zumba.
  23. Eat bowls of broccoli for tea. Spice things up with a few chilli flakes every now and then. Pride yourself on this ‘quick’ tea that does not involve anything beige from a freezer. while overlooking the lack of other essential nutrients in this diet. Mention said meal to friends who then start inviting you round for dinner more in exchange for juicy gossip and scandal.
  24. Start to realise that life alone isn’t so bad. Ponder the thought that maybe you’ve had more fun in the last few months than you’ve had in a long time. Decide you’re in no hurry to get into another relationship, and that you and you alone are responsible for your own happiness.
  25. Book another activity holiday, this time with sky diving. Hope that Greg from Southampton is still banned from booking with the same travel company.

 

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*riseandshinepaps bears no responsibility to anyone following this (fictional, made up and completely tongue-in-cheek) guide and the characters above are completely fictional and bear no resemblance to anyone, living or dead (apart from 18. Yes, that was me. Oh, and 23.)

Day #135 14.05.16

Eurovision party time where the gin and tonics come in a glass as big as your head. Much fun watching the Grape Escape’s live streaming of the year’s annual cheesepopfest (which every year reminds me of Rachel Crownshaw and the time as teenagers we watched it when her parents had gone away where we were screaming at the TV cheering on Katrina and the waves alongside ringing Rob Cooling at various points in the evening).

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Day #64 04.03.16

There’s nothing I love more than being outside. And being on top of a hill. It’s like being on top of the world, and there’s just something beautiful about sitting and gazing at the world below. I moved to Cheltenham for the hills (amongst other reasons) so I try to go for a walk up them as often as I can. Today was one of those days. Me and Louise went for a 5 mile stroll up and around Cleeve Hill having a good old catch up on life and marvelling at the views. Being outside in crappy weather isn’t in my top list of things to do but I still do it, mainly because it’s one of those things that makes you feel alive. And that’s a truly wonderful feeling.

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Day #62 02.03.16

Lovely meal out for Niamh’s birthday, full of laughter and random topics, including the many different spellings of Stav’s name and his love affair with Rescusi-Annie. I’m so lucky with the people I have met since moving to Cheltenham. This gang have welcomed me in and made me feel totally at home. So awesome of them to do that.

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Day #58 27.02.16

The annual Zambia reunion (sadly minus the flakey Ciaran who screwed his dates up) took place today. No selfie sticks were used in the making of this picture. 

I was actually trying to lay across everyone as they said that would make a good picture, but I decided this one was actually better.

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