We arrived in Catterick on Saturday afternoon, slowly dribbling into the Travelodge A1 Skeeby car by car. The excitement and the buzz around the boys was amazing and to be honest I think we would have all been quite content to get the bergens on and crack on there and then. We had been invited by the Para Charity to attend a pre-event curry at the Officers Mess at the Garrison, WAGS et al. Which was a huge honour, and again I would like to go on record and thank Stephen Cooper for the invitation, it was a truly special touch to a truly amazing weekend. We all arrived back and were probably resting up by 2300, although the consensus seems to be there wasn't an awful lot of sleep had, between, nerves, excitement and beds that were spongier than my belly when we first emabarked on this challenge! A decent breakfast done and we made our way to the event, the buzz still radiating, whether that be for some as Jono so eleoquently stated that there was a sense of relief that we were almost done or just the excitement of facing a challenge for others, but for all of us the main reason we were there, paying our tribute to Lloydy.
|PRE-EVENT LINE UP|
Going back to the support, all along this journey the support of our nearest and dearest has been unwavering, and once again they were with us for the event, almost thirty strong, an amazing entourage. From paping us, to ensuring our numbers were pinned on, to giving us the biggest cheers when we were approaching the finish, to that sweaty hug to say well done and let us know how proud they were of us - we couldn't have done it without them, so to our wonderful WAGS and family, thank you all from the bottom of our hearts, you have been truly amazing.
The event itself as I said, is hard to explain to people that haven't experienced it, people have asked me, was it as difficult as you thought it would be, and the truthful answer to that is yes. I'm not sure how much conviction that carries when you're not sure what to expect in the first place, other than some bstd hills! And boy were they bstd hills! You're briefed before you start that the last three miles are the toughest three miles you will ever face, so being the first time of trying, my plan was to take it steady, and try and leave some in the tank for the second half of the event. In truth moving out of the pack was difficult, and for the first couple of miles it was difficult to get into a decent rhythm. From 2 to 3 miles I really felt like I was settling into my stride and then bang at 3.25 miles the first bstd hill, which in comparison to the hills to come, is not that much of a bstd! It's weird because we all did hill training in the build up to this event, but you just don't come up against those sort of hills on your everyday training routes, lesson learnt! Find the nastiest hills you can, and as boring as it may be, beast yourself up them. The only way to get your times to where you want them is proper prep, and for me, getting your recovery time down after the hill climbs, has the potential to make huge differences to your times. It took a while to recover from that first hill, people talk about the terrain, and again, it's not something that any of us would be familiar with, loose material underfoot really is sapping, so again, when you're in your boots get yourself off road. I also spent a lot of time looking at my HRM, and was determined to keep myself ticking over at 155, but I was averaging 160, so it really does show how much harder you are having to work, even on training tabs I'd found at 155, I was comfortable or as comfortable as you can be, and was pretty much on the money time wise. On the day the 1:50 alluded me, but now again, I know I need to work at about 10% over in training to get the same results. 5 to 7 miles was pretty much the same as 1 to 3, up and down, and then you're hit with the first of two monster hills before you even get to 'Nod' or 'Lick out' or 'Pussy' or 'Tank' hill or whatever it's called. The last hill means once you've got to the top, you have 1 mile to go, and it really is digging in time, that last hill ascent will tell you everything you need to know about your character, I went up it with Jono, and his knees were in rag, and believe me when I tell you, that boy dug in deeper than anyone else I saw at that time going up that hill. I remember saying to Jono, after we got to the top lets run to the telegraph pole and then march it for a quarter mile, once we got to the telegraph pole we saw the descent and continued to run, until our legs gave out, and just as we are coming up that final incline we notice two of team members Craig and Ollie (who'd already finished), and for that last quarter mile they egged us on all the way up the finish line, not that I can forget to mention putting on my war face for my sister-in-law as I'm turning into the finishing straight. As we came up the finishing straight the support was mind blowing, everyone, no matter whether they knew who you were or not, cheered and clapped as if their lives depended on it, and if that can't make you put a little spurt on, nothing will. Just before the finish we notice our WAGS and entourage and at that point, you see their faces, and hear the cheers they're making and you see the pride on their faces, and I do think at that point, you do realise you've achieved something. Don't get me wrong, we all know that to don a maroon beret, takes a special kind of man, Christ, I'm lucky enough to be able to call a lot of them friend, brother, but for us mere mortals, stepping into that world if but for a couple of hours, only heightens our respect further still. For me, this was always Lloydys world, I know he was an amazing man, he was an amazing man, without everything he achieved in his 12 years in the army, but somehow, taking that small step into his world for those couple of exhausting sunny hours, only strengthened further still that pride I have in him. I did it little brother, we all did it, and we did it for you. Before we set out, I was playing 'Don't stop me now', those who know Lloydy, will know the significance of that song, and when I crossed that finish line, that was the first thing that come into my head, him and 'Don't stop me now', and I guess that's about as fitting as it gets. I put that medal round my neck, kissed it, and uttered the words 'love you little brother' hoping he was standing with me, giving me his grin and a beasting for not finishing as quick as him, but I'll take that, if but for a moment, I could believe he was there with me, with us. I went and got the hugs that were flying around and stood in front of Caroline and just saw the pride beaming from her face, and at the point I don't think I could have loved her more, she has seen me at my worst over the last 15 months and maybe that afternoon, I was back to my best, and to have her waiting for me, proud and full of love was something so incredibly special. It's been a long road dealing with the loss of Lloydy, don't get me wrong I don't think I'll ever come to terms with it, but every step of the way Caroline has been with me, and it's her that has helped me smile again. Taking my dripping shirt off I proudly don my Para'10 finishers t-shirt and with my medal around my neck, make my way down to where Craig and Ollie had met me, to encourage on, the rest of the team as they began to come in, and every time one of them came into view, a wave of pride would burst over me, and I found myself bellowing encouragement. All boys safely home, and as we're all standing there, the buzz is electric, collectively we felt like we achieved something special, but more so as I said, the tribute to my brother, to our friend, to Lloydy had been paid in full...........An amazing weekend, with amazing people, for an amazing man. Blue skies little brother xxx
|PARAS'10 P COY Challenge - DONE!|