I thought it might be good to write this in order to get a few things out of my head. Having re-read my previous blog about completing the Ramsay Round, it might have seemed like it was a bit of a negative experience. After all, pretty much the whole account was taken up with a litany of suffering, pain, agony and general "I don't want to be here"-ness.
Now, that is not to say that it is not a true record of the feelings experienced at the time and in the few days after. It is also not meant to stand as a warning to others about just how hard the thing is (it is very hard), but was more intended as a reminder to me about the level to which I had to raise myself in order to get through the experience. All that being said, the experience as is stood may well have felt like a negative at the time, but the overall outcome should certainly be seen in a much more positive light.
The Ramsay has been the only thing that I set out to do which had a greater than 50% chance of failure, not just at the beginning, but, in fact, for the majority of the time we were doing it. Had we gone the easy route, and just run the OCT, it would have been a fairly challenging day out, we'd have been slower than in previous years, but there would have been no doubt of completing it. For us, it was not a place where things were really being put on the line, and the only risk was that we might not be as fast as we had been previously. (we'd have also got a finishers t-shirt... but don't worry Chris, I'm not bitter about that at all).
The Ramsay was uncharted territory in terms of not knowing ANY of the route, and also in terms of not knowing if I was physically or mentally capable of getting round. Only now, a few weeks later am I coming to terms with the sheer amount of willpower that was needed to just keep on going. The round didn't make me physically stronger, it certainly didn't make me any faster, but it has re-inforced the understanding that I can go through a lot more and endure more than I initially realise.
While it is true that no matter how much muscle power you have, if the will is not there, the thing won't happen, there are so many more sides to the equation. Equally, willpower alone won't get you round. The ability and discipline to keep eating is fundamental to the success of this kind of endeavour. The faith in your equipment, and the knowledge that at somepoint in the past, you have done enough work to get you through this is fairly fundamental. However, each of the physical pieces of the puzzle can fall apart and the war of attrition can quite easily be lost if the glue that holds it all together starts to un-peel.
That glue is essentially, just sheer bloody-mindedness and the stubbornness born of many hours of moving across moorland and mountain having run out of fuel an hour ago and realising that home is another hour away at best. It is the practice that happens when you're trying to get back to the car through stair-rods of rain and mild hypothermia, dreaming of haribo and nutella filled sandwiches, washed down with coke and a hot chocolate, trying to stave off the mother of all bonks with sheer imagination. It is the knowledge that comes from knowing that the pain that you feel is temporary at best and not doing damage. It is knowing that at the end of the day, you put yourself here, so you get out of it. If you can still walk, walk.
I won't say the experience has totally changed me, but it may have been a turning point, a realisation, a revelation, it has re-inforced my belief in myself, and for that, I
have to thank Chris for pushing/pulling/cajoling/blackmailing me into
doing it with him.