Monsters big and small, plus a man with a javelin….

The “big monster” was the long-awaited First Monster Challenge at Loch Ness. Actually, it was my second Monster, but I suppose it’s unreasonable to expect the organisers to change the name just for me! Those of you who read my blogs regularly will know that this event has been on my mind for several months. I’d spent a lot of time in the spring and summer getting fit, in the hope of improving on last year’s performance. I’d had my setbacks along the way, but arrived in good spirits with my teammates. I’ve decided that Duathlons are like childbirth. Once they’re in the past, you forget all the bad bits and focus on the happy memories.

However I found myself halfway through my hilly one hour run thinking; “Why on earth am I back here?” I was climbing a particularly nasty section that I’d blanked from my memory and I felt awful. I genuinely wondered if I’d picked up flu or something. It was horrible. I didn’t believe the timing when I got back; somehow, I’d run 3 minutes quicker than the previous year. I shouldn’t have been surprised; I felt lousy before a couple of big races when I was an athlete and ended up doing well.

The mountain bike section was more fun and I got in to it in a big way – I guess my early summer South Downs ride had given me a head start. Overall, I was very proud of my team; last year we finished 40th and this year 23rd, so we’ve improved (or maybe lots of the good teams dropped out in 2011!) It’s a well organized event and if you fancy some scenery while you sweat, it’s hard to beat.

I recently spent an afternoon with javelin man Steve Backley. Normally when I take to the stage at a corporate event, I’m up there for an hour at the most. We were on the platform for 3 hours, taking questions, swapping ideas, discussing the similarities between peak performance in business and sport. I’d never listened to Steve’s story before; it was amazing to hear how he kept himself in the hunt for the medals at three Olympics. Talk about delivering despite setbacks! If the delegates enjoyed it as much as me, they had a very good day indeed.

And so to my little monsters. Part of me was looking forward to the return of the school routine, but I was also dreading the “up and out” feeling in the morning. Not to mention the “come on and get your homework done” speech each evening! My eldest is now in Year 9 and I’m as dismayed as he is by the amount of homework. There’s already a shed load and I can’t help with 90% of it! I can hear the nagging tone in my voice as I try to get him and the other two focused on what they’re supposed to be doing. I need to structure things better for them in the evenings, so that they (and I) can get on properly. Running up that monster Scottish hill suddenly doesn’t seem so bad…

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