Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Desert Raven - Jonathan Wilson

Lyrics:- 'Close your eyes and fly away, let the diamonds make the light, crystal blue will turn your ruby red' - Jonathan Wilson

Song Choice:- This track was suggested to me by one of my clients, a couple of years ago, as one I might want to listen to during a stage of the actual Marathon des Sables itself.  And, I've done just that on the long stage, right in the middle of the day, in the middle of the grill pan dried up desert, and that's where I got the real sense of what the song's all about, and more importantly why I've done the race so many times and am now why I'm returning to re-live the experience all over again this year. 

If you take a look and listen on YouTube here, it's the imagery (apart from all the weird American scrapyard stuff) as well as the music that makes me feel very emotional about the whole 'Desert life-experience'. When you are there, it can be completely overwhelming...

You see the race is surrounded in all sorts of myths and voodoo about how to train, what to carry and what to wear, but all that stuff is long forgotten when you are in the middle of it - right in the middle of the day, in the middle of the grill pan dried up desert, in the middle of nowhere looking up to the heavens and seeing the Eagles soaring high above you in the dark blue cloudless sky.

Wow, that's a real life moment, I can tell you...

The MdS is all about how it's makes you feel - it makes me feel alive. As you are probably aware running has always been more of a good friend and therapy for me all of these years . Results and successes have always been classed as a bonus of being sober if I'm being honest.

Last year, I lost that old MdS friend and all of my existence and future was taken away from my world as I laid unable to move a muscle. After months and months of rehab and even as recently as the last few days there have been some massive highs and lows to contend with as my journey towards MdS '17 continues and the race gets closer

I'd been thinking about writing this blog for a few days. I wanted it to say to folk going this year just to relax and enjoy the experience. To keep safe and not take any chances and not to worry. 

So to get into the mood I listened to the track on Saturday and got to 'The sun was rising, the day was saddled up to go' (a very MdS visual snapshot for me as each day of the race we walk like snails towards the start line to do our stuff) part and just had a good old sob as it felt I'd lost my identity since being ill last year with the Guillain-Barre Syndrome and that the race would now be a total let down and disappointment. Combine that with the thought of running a track marathon the Sunday, where I knew the leader in the 40-mile race would lap me twice a lap, I really did feel broken.

I'm the first to admit that if I were looking in on one of my clients lives, I'd being saying what folk are say to me - 'Look how far you've come, how quickly you've recovered - be grateful'. And I am - I really am, and I'm coming to terms with the new me, what I am and what I'm not capable of, but it still hurts. 

So not the best preparation for the track marathon if I'm being honest, but the 105.4 laps turned out to be a real game changer and after four warm up laps of getting to get my central-nervous system firing my muscles as efficiently as possible, I cranked in some very consistent lap times and I felt like the old me for the first time since before the last year's MdS. I might have only beaten the five-hour mark by 34 seconds but I battered myself around those last 10 laps like I was setting my marathon PB back in 1996 - but who cares - I felt alive and heading towards Sunday 9th April, I'm now in a much better place mentally to kick it's arse this year.

My day-to-day recovery is still poor but I'm looking forward to listening to 'Desert Raven' on the long stage this year and as he sings 'Close your eyes and fly away, let the diamonds make the light, crystal blue will turn your ruby red' as I'll have tears of joy running down my cheeks feeling like I had a very close shave.

I nearly didn't make it... When you've got the medal and experienced it for yourself you'll understand how 157 miles of sand in six stages can have such a profound effect on your life. It has mine  and it's something you'll want to do again maybe more than once - you'll see.

Rory Coleman - 986 Marathons - 241 Ultras - 13 Marathon des Sables
9 Guinness World Records - 8,469 Days' Alcohol Free
1 Inspirational Running Memoir - Get your copy here.
Location: Cardiff, Wales

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