Sprinting a marathon

AKA Please keep cheering, even though my life is boring now

By Jess Rego on May 8, 2018

Two weeks ago Caroline and I went along to the London Marathon cheer on her partner Christian. He is freakishly speedy and was done remarkably fast, but even though he was done quicker than 90% of that race (finishing time 3 hr, 11 mins, big up!) we still only went for a fraction of his race. We were at the side lines for about an hour, enough to catch Mo, see Christian run up at mile 15 and back at 22.

You know, the exciting bits.

You wouldn’t want to watch the whole thing, it would get very tedious watching the same person run the same race for an entire 26 miles. It’s not like you’d buy a DVD of that and get your friends round to watch it. People want the exciting bits, a brief flash of yelling, jumping up and down waving flags.

People like a sprint.

But what happens when you’re sprinting a marathon? Preparing to row the Atlantic is our marathon, forget the race, it’s not even on our radar right now. Preparation alone is a challenge and we are struggling, pushing ourselves beyond our previous limitations every day to make it to that start line.

We’ve become first aiders, learned survival techniques, worked with trainers for mind and body. There’s been the hustle of fundraising mixed with the late nights of events and don’t even get me started on trying to find time to do a two hour row every week. It’s all systems go, 24 hours a day.

And it is exhausting. Mentally and physically. Sometimes you need a little cheer to get your legs pumping so you can face that gym session knowing that after the workout, admin and those human needs, like food and watering oneself, it’s going to be another 2am finish.

But to everyone else, this is the boring part.

This is the part you skip. Let’s be honest, most people want to hear about the 40 foot waves and avoiding sharks. About waking up to a baby whale next to the boat and pooping in a bucket. That’s magical and foreign.

Being tired? That’s not special, everyone is tired.

To any of my friends reading this, I love you so dearly. Your support has been invaluable to me and I’m sorry for all the drinks I’ve missed because I was at the gym. I’m sorry that we need to book brunch 7 weeks in advance because every weekend I’m at an event or training. I’m sorry that I keep hounding you to come to our events because it’s the one place I’m guaranteed to see you this month.

I’m sorry that I’ve changed.

Because last year if you’d asked me “what’s new” I would have had a dozen anecdotes to tell and we would have laughed our way through several bottles of prosecco. Now I show up (when I show up) and tell you about training, and fundraising, and how tired I am. Which is probably starting to all sound the same after 8 months.

The difference between a 90 minute row and a 2 hour row isn’t exciting. Dropping 15 seconds from a split time isn’t exciting. Completing another course about seamanship… not exciting. My life isn’t exciting or entertaining to any spectator right now and I understand that. But please bear with me. This is the time we need your yelling and jumping. This is when we need your support. Because once we get to sea, we will be completely cut off from you and we won’t hear the cheering. We’ll be wrapped up in the magical, foreign adventure of living alongside whales and pooping into buckets.

On our best days we will be riding the waves on high spirits. On our worst we’ll be racing towards Antigua just to get away from that day’s hell.

It’s now that we really need your encouragement. I know it’s not as fun but push us to go to the gym when we don’t want to. Pretend that you’re excited about us hitting a 2:25 split time. Try to stay pumped with us because this journey can be lonely and isolating. We need our supporters more than ever. Stick with us through the tedious moments and you’ll be in our hearts and minds every day of the race.

After all, you never really cross an ocean alone.

Also, come to our screening of A Plastic Ocean on May 17th because it’s the only night I have free this month and I’d really like to have a drink with you all.

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