I'm sat in my living room with my feet up, it's the day after the Lakeland 50 event, and I have that post event, tired, content and proud feeling. My body is heavy, my mind empowered and feet are slowing starting to forgive me…slowly.
I have just sorted my kit out, and those of you who do these crazy endurance events know that the dreaded kit bag sort is the last thing you want to do and feels like such an effort! But it’s done, the washing machine is working its magic, and I am refuelling my body with nutritious food (I have just made the body coach’s protein pancake meal again. I'm hooked it is lovely!). I am rehydrating and looking after my body with rest, compression socks and self-massage….oh and cuddles with Freddie, our cat!
The Lakeland 50 is one the greatest ultra running and walking challenges in Europe, perhaps the world. Almost double the distance of a marathon, it's on rough terrain in the Lake District and there's approximately 3100m of ascent to deal with. The Lakeland 50 is a huge challenge, it requires commitment, drive and the ability to endure pain but keep going. The time limit for the Lakeland 50 event is 24 hours and come rain or shine the event continues.
You may agree that the Lake District is one of the most stunning places in the UK but also know that it can be wet, windy and unforgiving on the fells. It really is a growling and magical place up there which can change from one to the other in the blink of an eye. So why do I love it there so much….why would I want to enter endurance events like this? Why do I want to spend my weekend's training and putting my mind and body through this you may be asking?! It's a very good question. One that came into my mind a few times during the event too!
The answer….I want to be my best self. I want to reach my potential. I want to challenge myself to go beyond what I think I am capable of. Entering these events, training and crossing those finish lines reminds me again and again that I am capable of so much more than I think I am and that anything really is possible. Anything.
To me, there is no better feeling than standing on top of a mountain looking out at that endless view. That feeling reminds me that I am a tiny part of something much bigger than me, that nature is in charge and that if I am committed to working hard, if I keep going and striving to reach higher, that the rewards are beyond belief and endless, just like that view. To me, this is priceless and is my happy place.
But it took me a while to realise this. Growing up I was inspired by my dad and hero Michael Bostock, who played rugby for Huddersfield and was always going for a run, doing press-ups in the living room, going to the gym and training hard around working, coaching and raising a family. Dad always encouraged me to work hard and believe in myself. He always said,
”The difference between two people with the same talent…is their belief in their own ability.”
He also used to tell me that I could do anything I wanted to if I tried hard, stayed committed and believed. I am so grateful for his wise words and his belief in me. I love you so much, dad. Just have to say that, and as I am writing this I have happy tears in my eyes…I guess I have those post event emotions too 😊 But boy was he right!
For years I limited myself with thoughts of ‘I’m not fit enough for that’ or ‘I’m never going to be able to achieve that’. Until one day I was asked by a man called Mark Airey if I would like to train for an Ironman. I laughed and replied, ‘I could never do that’. He looked me in the eye and simply said ‘why not?' And I couldn’t answer him really. Not with anything other than excuses, disbelief in myself or fear of which all can be overcome. So with a few weeks thought and sleep, I said yes.
In summary, this changed my life. You know those moments after which everything changes? It was one of those, and for the better. I began six months of training, learning how to swim, ride a bike, run, how to recover and listen to my body and learning how to nourish my body. As well as, most importantly, training my mind to believe in myself like my Dad had been telling me all along. Finally crossing that finish line at the UK Ironman in 2011 was one of the most empower moments of my life.
My plus one Jennie Townsend who I crossed the finish line with at my first Ironman in Bolton....that moment is one of the best moments of my life.
But doing my first Ironman was about more than a personal achievement. It was about being a part of a team. A team called Team True Spirit. A team of wounded, injured and sick serving personnel and veterans who are recovering from injury and learning how to live life with both physical and mental health injuries/conditions. The courage and determination that the team members show time and time again inspires me and a reminds me to be grateful, to be my best and to keep making what seems like ridiculous goals and smashing them to realise a life without limits. Mark Airey always says:
‘I’m not interested in what you can’t do, I’m interested in what you can do.’
Finding out what we can do is much more fun than focusing on what you can’t do (or think we can’t do), don’t you think? How many times do you focus on the latter? How many times have you told yourself you are not good enough or that you could never achieve that thing? We all do it. Believe me, if I can achieve these things, so can you. So, whatever you are telling yourself you can’t do, turn it around to 'I can'. Smile and feel it. Feel like it’s possible, like it is going to happen. Another one of my favourite quotes is:
I have been training for this event for the last six months and have had lots of fun in the build up. I have trained alone and with my hubby, friends and family. We have walked in the rain, wind, sunshine and combinations of the three.
I have walked in the morning and evening around our house while catching up with friends on the phone and I have not always felt like it but have done it anyway. I have left parties early and missed events to make time for my training which isn’t always easy to do but important to keep on track.
Love this quote on the inside of my trainer box! 😊 I also love the trainers, I can highly recommend these…
My husband Michael has been amazing. He's been out for 4-6hr walks/runs with me on wet and windy days and has put up with me getting lost, (I always get lost despite going on several navigational courses, but I like to refer to these times as adventures) and he shares my love for the hills. With his experience in running fell races he isn’t scared of getting muddy or navigating through bogs up there! He was the person to introduce me to the fells, and I will always be grateful for that. He also enters me into events like the Hellvelyn triathlon for my birthday! Which again put me out of my comfort zone and challenged me to push myself again and again. So thank you for that, I love you hubby.
Picture taken coming into Consiton...I was so happy to see Michael...and Coniston!
Picture taken at the top of Hellvelyn on my birthday triathlon.
So July 29th came and before I knew it was 11.30am, I was on the start line of the Lakeland 50 with my team mates. It was cold, wet and windy and I’m not going to lie, the thought of “what did I say yes to this time” crossed my mind!
A good friend of mine Hilary and I were at the start line praying for sunshine! I have spent many hours training with Hilary and crossed many finish lines with her too. She is a dear and special friend to me.
Then we were off, the start of 50miles carrying all of our kit and full of spirit. The route enabled us to take in parts of the lakes that I had never seen before, and as always, the area did not disappoint with its beauty. The race started in Dalemain and took the route to Howtown, Mardale Head, Kentmere, Ambleside, Chapel Stile, Tilberthwaite and finished in Coniston. This helped when my feet started to feel sore and could have done with a sit-down and a nice stretch of flat terrain instead of a big climb and five more miles before the next feed station! But that wasn’t the only thing that kept me going. The thought of my team mates was in the front my mind. The people that were in the race and others that I have raced and worked with in the past who, despite wanting to give up throughout rehab and recovery, didn’t. Who kept going and keep going every day with the challenges that they face. Raising awareness of the charity Help for Heroes and walking alongside my team mates kept me going.
As the night drew in, we donned our head torches and lifted our spirits with a few songs! It was a strange feeling being out there at night. It is so different to the day. Not being able to take the view in it was quite disorientating. Through the night was the longest stretch for me. The feed stations helped to break the distance up and as you can see, helped but a smile on my tired face!
Pictures taken at Kentmere and Ambleside feed stations
(I was very happy with the pasta!)
I can’t tell you how much I was looking forward to sun rise! I knew that at that point it wasn’t too much longer before we would be dropping into Coniston and finishing! The sight of the slate mine and the youth hostel was amazing! Michael kept appearing along the course too and again appeared on the descent into the finish.
The view over the slate mine in Coniston (The youth hostel is also where I had my hen do last year which also made me smile)
The last 100metres to the finish line with the team
Quitting was never an option. There was never a doubt that we wouldn’t finish. We kept each other in good spirit, supplied with food and morale. Crossing the finish line that morning at 7:30am (just under 20hrs after starting), was an amazing feeling. I can’t tell you how quick I found a seat and sat down!
As I crossed the finish line I was more than happy for the lady to take of my dibber!
There is a 100mile event too. The Lakeland100, which runs alongside the Lakeland50. The competitors of the Lakeland100 set off at 6pm on Friday night and complete the first 50miles of the course before the 50mile event competitors join them. I can’t even begin to imagine completing the Lakeland100. The competitors of this distance are superhuman to me. The thought that they are only half way through when we started is just crazy. We had four team members that completed this event and I would just like to say how proud I am of them and how ninja they are!
Picture taken the next day with my finisher t-shirt and medal…this has to be done!
So what does this have to do with well-being and yoga? Why have I taken the time to write this and share it with you? Because for me, well-being is different for everyone. What makes me tick and feel well is this; challenging myself as well as slowing down and connecting. Pushing myself as well as practising self-care and relaxation. Thinking of others and giving to others as well as putting myself first. For me, It’s about the balance. And to withold this part of myself with you wouldn’t give you a true picture of who I am and of what Yorkshire Yogi is all about. Which is inspiring you to find what feels good for you? The things that enhance your Health and Wellbeing and to encourage you to live the life you dream of feeling confident and content in your body and mind. To feel happy and enjoy life.
I am looking forward to sharing my passion of the outdoors with you next year in my workshops and retreats that I have coming up which will combine yoga with wild swimming, walking, SUP, surfing and much more. I am busy planning these for you all to enjoy, and I look forward to sharing those with you very soon.
But for now, I am going to spend the day with my poor feet up. Smiling at the thought of my achievement, dreaming up the next challenge and spending some time in front of the fire with my hubby and Freddie.
If there is one thing that challenges like this remind me, it is that we are stronger than we think. We are all capable of so much, so dream big and aim high beauties. And always be bold, be brave, be beautiful and be you.