I've had an up and down start to the year so far, some frustrations and battles, some disappointments and some new challenges.
I've had to cancel RAAM (again) for another year due to funds, which has been extremely frustrating, but then I think everyone is finding that charity sponsorship is becoming more and more difficult to obtain in the current financial climate. After getting to the bottom of the issues which surrounded a rather blocked attempt to use the indoor Velodrome in Stratford, London, where the 2012 Olympic Track Cycling was held, there was a bit of a breakthrough, but still a bit of a fight I can foresee coming. It seems 24HR licences for venues are rather difficult things to acquire, even for world record attempts!
So it seems that instead I am fast becoming the symbol of all things Scottish, in music terms at least and that rather famous song about 500 miles, sung by a set of twins from Edinburgh, could well be my summer anthem.
I always wanted to take part in the Prudential Ride 100 again this August. Call it unfinished business after crashing, but I feel like I could have knocked 45 minutes off my time if I hadn't crashed and because of that felt I'd let the charity down. However, I've always thought you should earn your sponsorship money people give you. Instead of that extra pint, extra bit of shopping, bottle of wine, whatever, the fact is they're giving it to a charity you feel really passionate about instead of spending it on themselves. So I suppose for someone looking to break world records and having finished Team RAAM, a 100 mile sportive, would be like a charity 10K to an experienced Marathon runner. So in order to earn every penny, I wanted to push my limits and so I could really crack the 6 hour mark when it came to riding the 100 in London and Surrey.
I suppose the question is, how would I do that? Well my idea was to ride 1000 miles in 60 hours, or 2 and a half days. The form it would take works nicely (in theory), so that I would tip the 1000 mile mark during the last ride in London which I was so eager to complete again as part of Epilepsy Action's team of riders, or 'heros' as they call them.
The other rides would comprise another 100 TT - the British 100TT Championships, 2 x 12HR TTs, one of which would be in North Yorkshire, which to be honest, is one or the rides I'm most nervous about because of the likelihood of hills, then finally the British 24HR TT Championships. Again arguably the toughest ride of the 5 given it's the longest distance, but with a lot of training under my belt come the end of June, I feel like I should be in a great place to crack 400 miles.
So 1 400 mile ride, 2 200 mile rides and 2 100 mile rides feels like I'd be properly pushing myself for the charity and because it's not just one big effort, it feels like a genuine challenge, over 2 months. To put it into perspective, it's a third of RAAM Solo, further than the distance of the UK end to end and just under half the distance of this year's Tour de France, but in a quarter of the stages rides and with no drafting.
I'll have 4 months of training in total, meaning I'm likely to ride about 4000 miles in total including training, but to be honest, I feel better, healthier, am sleeping better, just after starting my training cycle of the last 2 weeks.
So what else has happened? Well I've gotten a year older, which apparently improves your endurance! So I guess that's a good thing. I've also thought about completely cutting back on drinking alcohol at all, only reserving a glass of something for special occasions, which has also made me feel better generally.
The major thing that has happened epilepsy wise though, is having a seizure a couple of months ago. It's reminded me of the importance of wearing my medical ID, but also what amazing people I live with, as our Master's student in the house, Anna seemed very calm and totally dealt with the situation, with the help of my other flatmate Alex and they were both awesome. I guess I always feel a bit guilty, that they have had to deal with the stress of seeing me have a seizure, but I'm definitely in their debt.
It also reminds me of the importance of the charity. It might have only been the second seizure I've had in about 4 years, but without their help, knowledge and the help of the Sick Kids Hospital in Edinburgh, I would be having that many in a 3 weeks. I guess it's easier not to think about your epilepsy when it feels completely under control, forget about how horrible it can be ...but the fact is, there is still approximately 600,000 people in the UK alone and about 68 Million people worldwide who have epilepsy, many of whom will be suffering with it terribly. At least Epilepsy Action can provide them with information, wherever we are in the world.
Although it's unpleasant to have the seizures, the one bright spot that comes from them, is the reminder of how important the charity's work is and little reminder of the motivation that helps me get through so much training and when the ultra-distance rides get really painful, of why I'm doing them.
I suppose I'd better plug the link to donate to the challenge now, it's: http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/Katies1000milecyclechallenge
I know £5000 is a very ambitious target, but I know how much it could do, so it would be well worth giving it a shot and all the training I'd put in to the challenge. It would be amazing if you could stick the link in your top bar and donate anything you can.
Oh and I've made some changes to the old Proclaimers classic:
"But I would ride five hundred miles and I would ride five hundred more, just to be that girl who dropped five thousand pounds at Epilepsy Action's door....."
"Dun liddle un-liddle un-liddle uh da da....!!"