Day 47 - Life is a fleeting moment
Porthor - Abersoch 32 km (1538.7 km done)
Start Time - 8.33 am
Finish Time - 4.04 pm
Moving time - 5 hours 36 mins
Vertical Gain - 822 m
Average - 31 C
Min - 27 C
Max - 35 C
Support runners today
You will have noticed that the distance I ran today is much shorter than usual. This is because of the heat and lack of wind. When I arrived at CP3 at Hell's Mouth car park, there was a decision to make. To continue along the Wales Coastal Path around the headland and into Abersoch or to cut off the head land and use the direct road, this shortened the day by about 10 km. At 3pm, during the heat of the day, this seemed like am easy decision to me. I was moving slowly again, due to terrain and heat. It felt hotter today than yesterday, with less breeze. I am not completing a record attempt at any of the coast paths, so I do not need to stick to the paths 100%. I do not make these decision lightly and they play on my mind for a little while afterwards. I question myself and wonder whether what I tell myself is the truth or am I just trying to give myself a way out. I tell myself that if it wasn't so hot I would have completed today route as planned. I think this is the case, however, I will never be able to go back and replay the same scenario again to test this out.
Since I cannot go back and change or replay that exact situation, I ask myself why am I worrying about that decision, it is in the past and the past is the past, it cannot be changed. All I can do is live in the present and try to make decisions the mould the future into the future I want it to be, doing the things I want to do now, experiencing as many things whilst I can.
I was made very aware of this need to do as much now as I can about three years ago. I met another Clinical Psychologist at a conference and we got chatting about what I was up to. This was before one of my races and I explained what I was doing and they said they would love to be able to do the kind of things I do. I my positive assuring way I explained that it was possible for a lot of people to complete an ultra race if they want to. They then went on to explain that he had cerebral palsy and was very active until he was around 40. They told me that they would not be able to run that far, they are unable to run or walk very far anymore and that they had to stop working full time due to the levels of fatigue and pain. They explained that at around 40, there body started deteriorating and they starting getting very tired all the time. They explained that they had been to a physiotherapist who had told him that in their experience people with cerebral palsy get to 40 and then their bodies start deteriorating. I was 37 at the time. This felt a bit like a time bomb.
I went home after the conference and tried to do some research on ageing, sure enough the research I found suggested that there was a higher likelihood of osteoarthritis, increased fatigue and premature ageing due to the extra strain that cerebral palsy puts on the body. The disappointing thing was that there were many sweeping general statements made about ageing such as
"Many people with cerebral palsy experience premature aging due to compromised mobility, motor function, and balance.
Living with impaired movement your whole life can add extra stress to your mind and body. In fact, individuals with cerebral palsy must use up to 3-5 times more energy to move around than those without a disability.
Body distortions can also add extra strain on certain organs or connective tissues. As a result, premature ageing may be evident in the form of chronic pain and musculoskeletal problems."
There seem to be very few case studies, longitudinal studies or intervention studies to help me understand what is likely to happen to me and how to mitigate this premature ageing. I don't think I am any more fatigued than I used to be. I am not in day to day pain. I seem to be able to move averagely well. I was always keen to try new things and have as many experiences as possible, but from that time I have tried to take on as many physical challenges as I can. If there is a race that looks good, I will just enter it rather than waiting. If I have the opportunity to go to the mountains, I'll go. I try and fill my days as much as I can. I think this conversation bought into sharp relief that we may only have a short time whilst we are able to do the things we are passionate about and so it is important to live in the present, take in the experiences and make the most of the time we have.