Reluctantly I am sharing some of the HBWR details here.
Mainly because my mum has subtly encouraged it...
"Um... I'm not sure where you'll be each day as I haven’t got your itinerary with me..."
This was not surprising as I hadn't given her my itinerary yet.
When I say ‘reluctantly sharing details’ it’s not because I am being coy or secretive, its mainly because I feel like most people wouldn’t be all that interested in reading the details!
I have again been humbled by the generosity of my friends, family and complete strangers that have donated and supported this adventure. Sometimes I feel like a phone call or a text message is not enough to say thank you but then I am reminded that everyone is in this for the same reason. I may be doing the running but everyone is invested in the HBWR plan because they want to help kids and they want to remember Lucian Page. It is a recurring thought that has kept me motivated along the way.
When you take the time to donate money or to send your best wishes, you immediately become part of the team. Raising money is about more than just doing something note-worthy or something that catches the attention of the public, it’s about building a vessel that everyone can get on board with. Finding a worthy cause that makes people feel like they are part of something special – something that will make a difference in the lives of others.
‘Have Bear Will Run’ is hopefully becoming something that makes a difference to the children it helps as well as to the people that help drive its vision. Small steps help build big dreams.
WHEN DO YOU LEAVE?
I fly out at the less than ideal time of 9.40pm on Monday the 27th of June.
It’s a 31 hour beast of a flight stopping at Kuala Lumpur and London before arriving in Rome at 10pm on the 28th of June. It was cheap and that is important on trips like this!
WHAT ARE YOUR TRAVEL PLANS?
I arrive in Rome and get a taxi to my accommodation in Ostia on the West Coast.
After a day of striping back my gear and stretching, I’ll take a bus across to Pescara on the East Coast of Italy carrying only what I need for the next 5 days. There I will stay the night and then get an early start on the 1st of July!
ARE YOU EXCITED?
Strangely, No Im not.
If I was going to Italy for a holiday, I would be jumping out of my skin but with an adventure like this I know what is ahead of me and I know how it’s going to feel. I am quite nervous at the moment and have been for about 48hrs now.
There are a lot of things that have to go exactly right for a trip like this to succeed. I am slowly getting used to the physical and mental challenges of endurance event but every single one is different. I can rarely predict what my body will do on a given day, regardless of preparation and I can NEVER predict what my mind will throw up once I get started. They say that endurance events are 90% mental and the other 10% is mental too.
During the Marathon des Sables in the Sahara Desert I took a mental battering and only just stumbled through the finish line. It was akin to a heavy weight title fight where the referee was just waiting to jump in and stop the fight. Mentally, I was like a punch drunk fighter hopelessly holding on to my much stronger and beefier opponent!
However the Anzac Ultra last year was a different story all-together. Physically it was challenging but after 160km I accepted that pain was something I could deal with instead of fighting. I wouldn’t say I blocked it out but I learned to cope with it a little better and ran what I felt was my best marathon time at the end of 200km. I’m certainly not boasting though – it would have still been a pedestrian time!
My point is that what is ahead in Italy is more of a challenge than a holiday.
HOW DO YOU FEEL AS THE EVENT GETS CLOSER?
I get a little edgier and a little less patient.
Small tasks appear much bigger than they actually are.
My mind starts to get nervous and goes about planting seeds of doubt in the hope that I won’t actually go through with this… It takes a consistent conscious effort to stay in control of my head and break my days down into smaller tasks so as not to get overwhelmed with big picture stuff. It sounds strange I know but when I am faced with this ‘Fight, Flight or Freeze’ mentality, small action steps are what keep me moving forward.
Last night I walked randomly around the supermarket checking out all the specials in an attempt to keep busy. I’m sure Coles had someone following me waiting for me to slip a Mars Bar in my pocket!
FYI – ‘Quilton’ Toilet Paper is a steal at the moment.
WHAT DO YOU PACK?
As little as possible! Over the years I am learning to make do without a lot of day to day essentials and on a running trip like this that definitely comes in handy.
Day to Day –
1 x running shirt
1 x running shorts
1 x hat
1 x pair Mizuno running shoes
3 x Injinji toe socks
3 x pairs underwear
1 x pair shorts (for at night)
1 x polo shirt (for at night)
1 x pair thongs
20 Band aids
Toothbrush and Toothpaste
20 x Neurophen
20 x Voltaren
5 x Roctane Gels
5 x Hydrolight satchels
5 x Cliff Bars
1 x Safety Pin
1 x travel size deodorant
1 x lip balm
1 x tennis ball
Phone and ear phones
WHAT DO YOU EAT?
I intend to start early in the mornings to get as many km in as possible before the heat of the day hits (avg temp seems to be 30 - 35 degrees) Cereal, toast and a coffee would be great.
During the day I will stop for an early lunch (11am) and eat what I can find, hopefully a sandwich or something I can eat on the go.
Regular water bottle stops will be essential and bottled water will be the quickest and safest option I think. Note to self – I need to practice my Italian water request – My Spanish request is spot on but I don’t think that will wash in the hills of Italy…
Afternoon snack will be the Gels I carry (with caffeine!) and the Cliff energy bars. One each per day.
Dinner will be early hopefully and may involve salad and pasta while washing down a hydra-light drink, before stretching and crashing out!
WHAT IS THE RUNNING ROUTE?
Pescara on the East Coast to Ostia on the West Coast. It’s basically 250km across the middle of Italy.
Each day is approximately 50km (give or take on various days) with the last day running through the city of Rome. I’m guessing that day will take a bit longer as I negotiate crowds and get continuously lost.
DO YOU HAVE ANY RUNNING SUPERSTITIONS?
Funnily enough I do have two strange quirks when I run. I insist on cleaning my teeth before I run for some reason? And I always feel the need to touch things while I run...
As I get more fatigued and my mind starts to become more of an enemy than an ally, I find touching things as I run gets me out of my head and back into reality. Signposts, trees, walls, anything that gets me back to reality and stops the voices in my head.
EMMA is the voice in my head that has become the single most influential factor of my running life.
EMMA (Excuse Making Machine Alert) - and we all have an EMMA in our head, knows me better than I know myself. She knows just what to say to put doubt in my mind. She will focus on an injury or highlight how far I have to go, how hot it is, how much my back pack weighs, how resting will help me run better tomorrow… The excuse making machine is always there but I am learning how to turn its volume down now.
Touching things as I run sometimes helps me focus on the physical and not the mental side of running.
WHAT WILL THE FUNDS RAISED GO TOWARDS?
With the incredible generosity of my friends and family I would like to offer 2 Lucian Page Scholarships this year! One for a cancer surviving High School student to help with their ongoing studies and one for a Primary School student.
It is not what I initially planned but I have been blown away by the big-heartedness of people! And now instead of saving the funds for next year, I want us to be able to help another student this year! I’m super excited about this!
After I get back from HBWR - Italy, I would love to meet up with everyone to share the tales of this voyage. I am hoping to book a venue somewhere in Sydney and invite whoever would like to attend to come and relive the adventure with me. This may be where I can verbalise why I do these things. It has a lot to do with making sure I am not living by accident.
We only get one chance to draw as much out of life as we can, while helping as many people as we can. I’m not saying we all have to run silly distances, but HBWR makes me feel like I am doing my little bit to help others.
Thank you again to everyone that has sent messages of support and taken the time to donate - Now for the easy part... Have Bear Will Run Italy!
Sarah will tell you that I have a terrible memory. Sometimes it's funny, sometimes frustrating - and sometimes my poor memory is purely protective!
Well today I was reminded why I don't do more of these events and why my poor memory keeps me coming back. If I actually remembered how endurance running feels - forget it!
Today was brutal, punishing and scary all at the same time. I'm usually quite positive and can find the good in most things but today I struggled... I'm certainly not whinging because I know I put myself in this position, but boy did Italy kick my butt today.
NEED FOR ICE.
I won't go into too much detail but the 33 degree heat and the crazy highways had me craving ICE in 2 very different ways. I would have given anything for a big ice bath half way through the day when I was cooking in the midday heat.
And secondly, I needed ice flowing through my veins today, running on highways with no shoulder and 18 wheelers steaming past. The only thing that kept me calm was the thought that cycling is a big sport in Italy and surely these trucks are used to sharing the roads...
This mornings sunrise was perfect and the first few hours felt comfortable and smooth. I only got lost twice today and feeling fresh made it easier to deal with.
I distinctly remember saying to myself this morning though - 'Slow down, you cannot even comprehend the pain you're going to be in by the end of today'. I wish I had have heeded my own advice!
Today, I experienced a situation that shook me to my very core and has changed the way I view these adventures and the way I look in the mirror now. The details of what unfolded are for another time but needless to say the last 10km taking nearly 3 hours to complete was tough.
There may have even been a few tears when I finally finished safely today.
Tomorrow is another big day and I'm hoping I pull up ok. The feet aren't too beat up and my legs feel good considering. The sunburn and heat exhaustion will be the things to watch tomorrow. I also need to improve my food intake. There is a distinct lack of shops on my route so today I had to survive on bananas for breakfast, an energy gel and a handful of almonds. Not ideal.
Fluids were ok though. There are the occasional fountains that are a godsend and most petrol stations sell water (and alcohol).
Special thanks must go to my amazing wife who stayed up till all hours waiting for me to arrive safely at Day 1 base camp. Thanks for your messages and support today Sare! You saved me.
Today's HBWR Km Count - 55
For all those movie buffs out there, this summed up my day today. I felt like Rocky...
"Rocky Balboa has taken Ivan Drago's best punches so far. He's cut and he's bleeding but he's on his feet!"
This is what happens when you spend hours on the road by yourself - you end up replaying movie scenes in your head and singing the same lines to songs over and over. 'The Gambler' got a great work out today.
I won't write another thesis today, suffice to say that fatigue has reached my fingers now and typing (and correcting all my mistakes) is becoming a mental challenge!
Today's trip took us past some picturesque villages up in the mountains. Thankfully the trucks didn't follow us up into the mountains. I say 'us' as I have reverted to chatting with The Bear and Lucian now in a bid to hear my own voice. It sounds strange but I haven't had a real conversation with anyone for days now and its starting to play on my mind. Our minds.
My 'real' conversations have been limited to simple phrases like 'Aqua Frizzante?' 'Aqua Naturale?' 'Per favore' and 'Gratze'. I'm actually quite certain Italians can pick up my accent in a split second now. I walk in to any shop, smile and nod - everyone's happy. Then as soon as I say 'Ciao' they stare blankly at me, as if I just swore at them and we revert back to me talking a little louder and slower, pointing and gesturing at the things I want... Quite embarrassing really.
This farcical habit culminated this afternoon with me turning up to my accommodation, where my slow talking and gesturing obviously worked a charm as the gentleman had one of the waitresses sit me in the restaurant as he walked out.
After a few lonely minutes I followed him out - finding him sitting at his desk. So I talked louder this time, using words like 'booking', 'accommodation'. I even used the international symbol for 1 nights board (two hands together, pressed against your cheek, head tilted to the side).
He then proceeded to flash me a big grin and give me a card for a local B&B! All this after a long day of running!
Eventually, and once he realised this tall sweaty mess wasn't going away, he disappeared and came back handing me a mobile phone. On the other end was a lady speaking pigeon English asking if I wanted a nights accommodation...?!
It all turned out OK in the end and I'm now resting up preparing for day 3. In a one bedroom house with Enzo, George, Giseppe and this lady teaching me Italian (kidding).
LETS GO ITALY.
Apparently Italy plays Germany in the football euros tonight. Let's hope Italy win or I may be dealing with some irate drivers on the roads tomorrow!
Thank you for all the amazing messages of support and motivating words! I try to be quite careful with my phone battery during the day (no music - killer!) but I will reply to them as soon as I can.
It's so humbling to read them and know that people have taken the time to support Lucian, the Bear and I. Thank you so very much. It went a long way to putting me in a better head space today.
Turns out it was a bit of a thesis again! Sorry, I've no one else to talk to here!
'The Day of the Mountains!'
If it were the Tour de France, they would definitely not be handing me the King of the Mountains Jersey!
Sleeping has been difficult these last few days with the various aches and pains. I find it hard to nod off and stay asleep - which is rare for me. The Italian football fans didn't help last night either though as it sounded like they all found a car horn to lean on midway through the night. I think they eventually lost in a penalty shoot out to Germany..?
A huge thank you again to all the messages that have come in. They are just amazing. It was those very messages that got me out of bed this morning. I was struggling to get going but the inspiring words (and bad jokes) of my nearest and dearest made all the difference. Special thanks to my brother Daniel who managed to link in the movie theme and motivate me at the same time. I repeated those words a few times today Danno! Cheers mate.
WHAT GOES UP.
I wasn't hungry at dawn when I set off today so I made some wraps to pack for later. I'm really glad I did as they were delicious! You probably wouldn't feed them to your own dog but after 5 hours of running I would have eaten a potato and loved it!
The first 3 hours today went in one direction - Up! The only change was when the road switched back on itself, time and time again. I actually had to laugh a couple of times.
The next 2 hours were downhill and I managed to get up some good speed. The roads were quiet with plenty of motorbikes and cyclists enjoying the hills and tight turns. My shuffle although feeling pretty quick probably had the bike riders laughing too.
En route I was really taken aback by some little Italian villages nestled into the mountains. They were a throw-back to the days of old I imagine and it was like watching my nan sitting on a wooden bench in her old apron and my grandfather standing around talking nonsense with his pals. There was a real serenity and warmth to these villages.
One thing Italians do exceptionally well over here, much better than we do in Australia I think - is talk. Every street or town square has benches and benches of men just sitting around talking. Every village or town I've passed through, it's been the one constant - meaningful conversation. EVERYONE just sits around and talks, there's not a phone in sight! It's the most amazing sense of community.
MUST COME DOWN.
Being honest, today was a real roller coaster. It had its lovely scenic and memorable ups and it's had its emotional debilitating downs. It ended with me in tears again as I gave in to the distances, the fatigue and the heat.
I'm staying the night with a couple and their over fed dog 'Linda', who keeps licking me, on account of the salt I hope. They can't speak English and I can't speak Italian so it's been an interesting evening. Beautifully though, the old lady put me in her 'machine' and drove me the 2km to the pizza ristorante to grab some dinner. She then scooped me up as I was half way home. Just lovely people.
It's three days completed now and although the numbers tell me differently the finish line doesn't feel like it's getting any closer. Sarah has been absolutely brilliant, keeping my spirits up. Her patience, messages and attempted humour have been a blessing! She is one in a million!
Thank you again to everyone, for all of your support and messages! I'm filled with gratitude at how lucky I am. I know this run is not about me, and Im conscious not to make this a social media campaign. HBWR can be a really important way of helping students in the future and honouring the little champion Lucian Page. Thank you again everyone.
I will add a few photos and comment on them instead of dribbling on here.
Too late I hear you say!
I didn't sleep too well last night but this time it wasn't my aches and pains that kept me awake... I had somehow convinced myself that the lovely old couple I was staying with had lured me there as part of a Hollywood horror movie! I was the only guest, locked inside the property by big automatic gates, miles away from anywhere... I spent most of the night planning my best Steven Seagal moves and escape route.
With a big day ahead (and fear still coursing through my veins) I got up early, prepped, pack my bag and snuck downstairs. Just as I open the front door, guess who turns up. The crazy knife wheedling grandmother, lunging at me!
Actually she had gotten up early to make me breakfast - bless her! What a lovely lady. We couldn't really converse due to the language barrier but she refused to let me leave without 2 bags of fruit and cookies. It's strange how the most un-corporate, un-English place I stayed, had the most heart.
Today was a long day in the saddle passing through valleys of fog this morning, hill climbs and switch backs over lunch and then down into the real heat of the basin that Rome sits in.
I pushed a little further than I had planned this afternoon in the hope that it will help our final day tomorrow. I'm predicting my journey through the South of Rome and across to the Tyrrhenian Sea on the West coast will be traffic ridden with lost of wrong turns by me.
I'm putting away litres and litres of water everyday and the town fresh water fountains are an absolute god send. I make a point of not missing the opportunity to buy fresh bottled water whenever I can. Being in the sun so long means my bottles get hot quickly and cooling myself down becomes a real problem when I'm on the move.
A strange occurrence started happening today as I got closer to the Rome Ring road. The Rome ring road is like an unofficial border, marked by a fast moving 4 lane highway that skirts the capital and allows people to travel around it, or into it.
Anyway... I saw a lady sitting in the middle of nowhere next to the main road I was travelling down and I assumed she was waiting for a lift. The plastic white chair she was sitting in must have just been coincidence. Then a couple of kms down the road - there was another lady waiting for a lift... Same white chair too... Then another, and another.
Eventually the penny dropped when I realised these ladies were not exactly wearing their church outfits and were always strategically perched close to a car park or quiet side street.
I assume it is a new initiative from the Rome government to help lost tourists. I'm not sure who was more surprised; me when I realised what was going on or them seeing a lanky sweaty mess with a teddy bear on his back!
Much like the Anzac Ultra from last year the heat and distance is starting to make my feet break out in a rash but I'm hoping with one day to go they hold out.
Tomorrow marks the final leg of this 5 day journey and although it feels 'possible' that I may finish tomorrow, I'm still not confident for some reason. There is something unrealistic about making it to the West coast as planned. I will just keep doing what I've been doing all week and hope for the best. One foot in front of the other.
All the messages, likes and comments have been overwhelming. Even though I haven't been able to respond please know that every single piece of encouragement is helping me and this is becoming one almighty team effort!
I am also so excited about the donations that are still coming in! These generous funds will make a big difference to the dreams of some brave kids. Thank you!
Four down, One to go - HBWR
Better grab a cup of tea for this one sorry team...
"The final furlong, the last leg, the GF, the home stretch, the big show, the green mile..."
Funnily enough, today again had a movie theme ringing in my ears during the last few hours. It was that line from the great Tom Hanks movie - The Green Mile. If you're Marty O'Rourke, Joel Patterson or my brother, you will have already predicted what line was being repeated by me over and over in my head during the tough times today...
"We got a dead man walking here! - Walking the mile, walking the mile.."
I certainly felt like a dead man walking a few times today and smiled at the thought of the afore mentioned boys calling out that line as I slowly shuffled along.
This morning I got an earlier start that usual, more out of frustration than anything else. I was up at 4am, already sweating as the air-conditioning in my room didn't work and Rome was pretty toasty last night. I resorted to pouring water over myself in bed during the night to combat the heat. The unimpressed land lord will understand I'm sure.
I had predicted that I would hit a barrage of traffic this morning as Rome rattled into action, so my early start was aimed at racing through the city before the masses woke up.
For a change, my plan worked. Usually I am cursing myself for taking another wrong turn or badly guessing what the menu said but today I was due a pat on the back!
Just as the traffic, and the day started to heat up, I was skipping out the other side of the city (Skipping is a massive exaggeration). The most difficult part of this morning though was keeping my emotions in check.
A number of times I had to stop and remind myself that Day 5 would be no less difficult than Day 2 or 3 or 4 (Day 1 is an exception that I will explain later...). Even as I was packing and going through my morning routine, I was so keen to get out the door that I risked missing part of the process which could have had dire consequences later in the day.
DK vs DK.
The thing about endurance events, in my limited experience anyway, is that everything becomes magnified the longer you endure. A grain of sand in your shoe, a crease in your sock, a rubbing strap or a minor hot spot somewhere on your foot will eventually become a huge deal if left unattended.
I have a structured routine that served me well each morning but this morning I was rushing that process in a bid to get on the road earlier. That same enthusiasm had me moving too quickly a number of times this morning or taking silly photos of things to commemorate the journey. More than once today 'Logical DK' had to have words with 'Excitable DK'.
Today's scenery was more industrial city that romantic village and up until the final stretch I was in a good head space to deal with this. However, Excitable DK got his hands on my phone at one point and before I knew it he had taken a screen shot of the remaining distance and excitedly sent that map to my family! To make it worse he also posted it to Facebook but thankfully only Em and Simone were quick enough to see it before Logical DK caught on and deleted it.
This was a perfect case of getting ahead of myself and didn't I pay for it after that...
ITALY vs DK.
The final 18km looked short on the map but there was a definite feeling that 'Italy' did not want me to finish this trip and she was going to throw everything at me on that final stretch to make sure I didn't.
The long stretches of road in front of me suddenly doubled, allowing me to see for kms into the distance now. The arch enemy of a distance runner, even a hack like me, is being able to see the pain ahead of you. At the same time the road side shade disappeared completely, the width of the highway halved and the trucks seemed to get wilder during this peak hour traffic stretch. Italy was putting up one hell of a fight!
At one point I needed a brain break and ducked into a supermarket on the side of the highway for water. My spare bottle was empty and I knew one bottle was only going to last about another 30 minutes. After putting my bag in a locker (I assume that's what the angry service lady meant) and searching the store for water, I made do with a luke warm energy drink and headed to the counter. There waiting for me was the same angry service lady swiping her way through 2 massive trolleys of groceries, at a record slow pace. Well played....
Eventually my weary feet and heavy legs arrived at the seaside, carrying the Bear and a prized photo of Lucian. We had run, walked, shuffled and crawled 250km across this amazing country and we were finally able to take some time to soak it up. I had no idea what I was going to do once I actually hit the water - I had no speech or dance prepared. Strangely I hadn't actually thought about this moment.
Using my phone I attempted to capture parts of the moment. Quick video, snap shots and personal thoughts. Before long though, I was casually told by the life guard (Roberto, who spent a year at Bondi as it turns out), that this was not a free beach and I had to move on. He helped me take a quick photo and then it was time for me to gathered up my bear and belongings and head up to the sidewalk again.
It's a difficult feeling to explain, and I will attempt to do it better tomorrow once it's all sunk in, but finishing a journey like this feels a little strange. I didn't expect a marching band or any fanfare but to every other beach goer there today, I was just some bloke getting his feet wet and then walking off the beach again. I doubt anyone even noticed I was there actually. The only people that know what I have been doing and know what I have been through are a 1000 miles away.
Don't get me wrong, I'm certainly not feeling sorry for myself - I'm the luckiest guy on Earth! I guess what I'm trying to say is that the adventure has such a distinct finish and now it may take some time to sink in properly.
WHAT A TEAM.
The most satisfying thing for me though had definitely been the incredible team effort. It's been absolutely tremendous!
I am usually very reluctant to open up about these adventures because most people have better things to do than wade through pages of my dribble. But hearing that my family and close friends have enjoyed the trip and even felt a part of it in some way, makes it all worth while. Like I said, this has been a huge team effort by everyone involved. Every donation, every message, every like and comment - both the heartfelt and the humorous, have fuelled this trip. I owe every single person a debt of gratitude for making this adventure happen. Every single message was read and appreciated!
And now that this adventure is drawing to a close please know that everyone has played a part in doing something special. Not just this week but for years to come now. Together we have raised funds, remembered a special little man and maybe inspired a few other people to reach for something a little irrational. Something worth chasing. This trip has confirmed the notion that with belief and support, we are all capable of achieving amazing things.
SHOULD I OR SHOULDN’T I BLOG?
This morning I set off on an early morning run and the usual voices in my head started to chatter.
For runners, it’s a familiar occurrence. Maybe it’s a familiar sound for everyone. The voices in my head tend to be a little louder when I’m running though. And the longer I run, the more convincing these voices become.
This morning’s 9km dawn run turned into an auditory arm wrestle between Robbie Williams on my IPod and the thousands of bats that circled and screeched overhead in Centennial Park.
Trudging through the final 4kms, I started to play with the idea of writing a regular blog post again.
In the past I have dabbled with blog posts but generally shied away from the process as I felt uncomfortable with the focus that such grandstanding tends to attract. It may not be ‘grandstanding’ as such, but it feels that way to me at times. I always struggle to get my head around the voices that ring out when I consider posting things online…
“This is boring – nobody cares!”
“Don’t be so self-centred, thinking people will want to read this”
“What you do is not extraordinary – Don’t start thinking it is…”
MAYBE I SHOULD BLOG…
This year I am planning another adventure in the hope to raise valuable funds again for the Lucian Page Scholarship. Lucian’s scholarship is in its 3rd year now and I would really like to expand it in the future to help as many cancer surviving children as possible. But to do this I need support and to encourage support I understand there are certain necessary responsibilities. Firstly, I need to share my plans.
Maybe its superstition, maybe its fear, whatever it is, I don’t like announcing my plans until I’m confident everything is locked in place and I am sure I will be making an attempt at the adventure.
Whenever I hear about someone taking on a travel adventure or a major endurance event I find myself asking the same questions - How are they affording this? How are they training for this? What do their organisational plans look like? Who is supporting them? What equipment are they using?
Which brings me back to the voices in my head… If these questions and interests are running through my mind, could it be possible that other people may be asking similar questions? I hope so.
What I do in my life may not be extraordinary, it may not even be that interesting for the majority of people but it’s not the majority of people I am aiming at, I’ll leave that to the big budget Nike commercials and the larger than life motivational speaker - Eric Thomas. For me, it is through the thoughtful comments from friends and family I can now appreciate that my posts, videos and adventures inspire just a select few.
We are all motivated by different things, I accept that, but if I can inspire or encourage just one or two people to chase down their lofty dreams, then putting myself out there is definitely worth it.
Over the next 3 months I will document my preparations as I embark on the next of my fanciful adventures. I will attempt to give you an insight into some of the steps I take in order to get these escapades off the ground. At the very least it will give an insight into the planning, training and details I encounter, and at the very best - it may even help others take on their own quest!
There are many things I now do naturally to prepare for these events but I’m positive there are better and more proficient ways to do them. In the coming blog I will try to outline some of the steps I take in case anyone is actually interested. It may not win me a Pulitzer but at least it will help my fading memory recall what I have already ticked off.
Additionally, it will give people the opportunity to offer me some sage advice on how to execute things more efficiently.
Training for endurance events can be tiresome. Especially in Sydney where my access to varied running tracks is limited. I have ascended the Coogee steps more times than I care to remember and I now know every inch of Centennial Park – so much so that I have considered setting up a guided tour company through there!
Over the years I have developed a better understand of my body, to the point that I now know how hard to push it, as well as how often. This has not always been the case though. My work load has see-sawed between avoiding training at all cost in my early years (I remember feigning a bad case of diarrhoea to get out of a pre-season running session at the Raiders) to over-training and squeezing in as many sessions as possible in any given week.
Preparing for an adventure usually involves me spending months organising and preparing details while keeping my toe ‘dipped’ in the training pool. Then as the departure date gets closer, the training ramps up in a bid to build my confidence levels (more so than my aerobic capacity) and convince myself that ‘I am ready’. This method has had varying degrees of success…
Combining my need to keep training interesting and my new-found confidence with sharing my adventures, I have decided to introduce a few training challenges to my preparations. My first Training Challenge was posted on YouTube this week and was met with some positive feedback from good friends and family. (link…..)
Over the coming months I will attempt to film a couple more novel challenges to keep people updated on how my training is going and how I am keeping myself sane. If you have any suggestions or ideas – please send them through!!
APPLICATIONS AND PAPERWORK
Before I can undertake any fundraising, I first have to get permission from The Children’s Hospital at Westmead. This involved filling out a number of forms and submitting them with my plans and the details of the event (or 'activity' as it is categorised this time). So if anyone is desperate to know what my plans are, just contact Stephen at CHW!
I have successfully submitted my application and recently received confirmation that the ‘activity’ could take place. Along with this confirmation comes the necessary paperwork to outline my official obligations as well as the documentation to prove to the public that this is an authorized CHW activity.
My passport is nearing its life expectancy deadline and so a new passport needs to be ordered and paid for ASAP. Its $254 for a 10 year passport in case anyone is curious… As well as $16.95 for ‘mug shots’ at the local post office.
I lodged my details and filled out the forms online before printing them off and cueing at the post office to get the process underway. Not only were my photos inappropriate (apparently my head casts a shadow, resulting in the extra $16.95 donation for new shots) but the form did not fit on a regular sized A4 page when I printed it at work. It is probably more likely that I messed up the printing process than an Australia Post formatting issue.
Finally after my initial printing mistakes, my passport has now been cut up (thankfully only the front cover), as I eagerly await my fresh new document to fill with official looking stamps again!
I didnt realise just how much importance I placed on the level of freedom my passport gives me until the Australia Post official said quite matter-of-factly -
"You do understand you cant leave the country now that I have cut your passport...?
The Bear has been grounded. But not for long!
BLOGS AND PLANS TO COME
Training details, Fundraising information, Flights, Accommodation, Support Crew, Support crew transport, Gear List
Terrain Maps, Nutrition, Insurance, FAQs, Contingency plans and of course the reluctant publicizing of said event...
People often ask me why I do the crazy things I do, so I thought I would take a moment to try and explain what drives me. What me vehicle is...
The evil power of 'BUT'…
The general response from people that I talk to about the ‘Have Bear Will Run’ campaigns and the adventures I attempt is often a mixture of surprise, confusion and humour.
“What are you thinking!?”
“How do you organise something like that??”
“What made you come up with an idea like that…?”
And all of these are realistic questions.
What I struggle to understand is why this campaign is seen as a novelty by so many people. Yes, it is different to the ‘usual’ activities someone might undertake in their spare time but the concept should not be.
I will openly admit that I am somewhat strange when it comes to cerebral predictability. While it can be a curse at times, more often than not I see it as an advantage that my mind seems to wander down paths of abnormal creativity. Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying in any way that this is a talent or a skill but what I do enjoy about the way my headspace works is that it is the source of endless possibilities.
“Being realistic is the most commonly travelled road to mediocrity”.
Too often we use the word ‘but’ as the all encompassing acceptable excuse in life. It’s the ‘get out of jail’ card that is rarely questioned by others and more disappointingly, rarely question by us.
"I was going to do that event ‘but’ I got caught up planning this or that…"
"I meant to go for a run today ‘but’ I got snowed under at work…"
"I would travel there too ‘but’ I need to save and plan it all first…"
‘But’ is a dream killer; we use it to build a case, convincing ourselves that it’s OK not to achieve something - even something small.
‘But’ will validate your inaction. It is an argument for our limitations. And when we argue for our limitations – we get to keep them!
For the purpose of genuine comprehension I am going to repeat that so it sinks in properly.
‘But’ is a dream killer. We use it to build a case, convincing ourselves that it’s OK to not achieve something - even something small.
‘But’ will validate your inaction. It is an argument for our limitations. And when we argue for our limitations – we get to keep them!
As an individual, I am nothing special. I am not an elite athlete (my marathon times will attest to that). I am not Richard Branson (my bank account will attest to that!). What I am, is someone who does not want to die wondering. Every crazy idea, every silly plan, every extension of taking something ordinary, like a family picnic or a dinner party or a bus ride to work, is an opportunity to look at things differently and make them extraordinary.
People don’t have to run around Australia to get the most out of life. All they have to do is stop using the word ‘but’ and practise a little abnormal creativity.
While I was playing the adult version of 'dodge ball' (Play Ground Duty) this week, I observed some interesting behaviours from the primary school aged children and how they played sport, primarily rugby. It got me thinking about when the right time is to introduce goal achieving programs to them.
When should a child start their goal setting journey?
In short, my opinion is that a child's goal achieving mindset is very much akin to their ability to play team sports. There are a number of factors that need to come together to open up the door to chasing greatness.
When they are young, they chase the ball around in a wild bunch without any level of forethought or anticipation. A small boy playing rugby will run in a big backwards arc away from the defence in order to find some space and a short-lived sense of security ('I'm safe from the chasing pack!').
More often than not, at least one enthusiastic young defender will chase him along the same backward arc, in the hope of catching his prey. At this early age, it does not dawn on the chaser to anticipate his opponents movements and cut across field to head him off. He is simply consumed by the chase.
As a child grows his spatial awareness improves, as does his ability to make logical links between what he should do to survive and what he can do to be successful. That sounds a little too ‘deep’ when you relate it to a children playing sport but essentially it's true - 'If I catch him, I have done what I set out to do' as opposed to 'If I head across field I will catch him as well as saving energy and time'.
There will come a time in a child’s development when he realises he can cover half the distance by running diagonally across a pitch and still catch his prey. This is the time when he also has the ability to understand that goal setting and goal achieving is a similar process. If a student can develop the right mindset, set an accurate direction and then following through on a plan of action - they will always catch what they are chasing!