It gives me great pleasure to introduce today a guest blog from someone who, although he may not be aware, has been pivotal to me in many ways: Alastair Humphreys.
“I’m in the fast lane of the motorway, zipping past all the souls in less of a hurry than me. The winter sky is blue and sharply cold. But I have the window wide open. I am relishing the noisy buffeting of the freezing air. The cold gale flays my post-race, glowing face and feels so good.
I am driving home from a triathlon and I am high on life. My feet are wrinkly, white and still numb from three hours of winter wetness. So I have the heater on full blast at the maximum heat, coaxing some life back into them. The hot air swirling around my toes feels hedonistic.
The radio is on full volume. It’s definitely an X-fm day not a Classic-fm one. If I was less sensible I would be driving at 200mph. I’m freezing my head in a winter gale, I’m roasting my feet. The passenger seat is strewn with food and I’m shovelling it into my face, groaning with pleasure at the delicious replenishing of calories. Pork pies and Haribo and all the random health bars you get in the goody bags at the end of races.
I realise that I am relishing experiencing things to the extreme today. And perhaps this is the attraction for me of entering races or going on expeditions. I cannot even imagine what exhilaration I would be feeling had I actually won the race! But I have never won a race in my life so that is not a factor for me in entering events.
This morning’s triathlon was tough. Off-road running, mountain biking and kayaking for three muddy, wet hours. I didn’t win. Never have, never will. But I tried my hardest and I was exhausted at the finish line. I had put all of my effort and energy into the race. How often are we able to say that honestly to ourselves after a normal day?
The self-satisfaction of doing something well, the restorative energy of time spent exercising out in nature, the polished sharp focus on the world that I feel right now, the desire to feel life’s extremes. And the sweet prospect on an afternoon wallowing on the sofa reading a book, drinking tea and enjoying the tired ache of well-used limbs. I squeeze a decibel or two more from the speakers, sink the accelerator a little lower and give thanks for life in the fast lane.”