T Minus 3 days.....

.....and the first leg of this journey will be all but done! I can't use the word 'over' because this Paras'10 is just the beginning. The training efforts seem to be coming together, I did 9miles Sunday with 40lb in kit, it wasn't fast and by that I mean, hitting 1hr50 wasn't on the agenda, it was just a case of getting more miles under the belt and getting used to carrying the heavier pack. I must admit by the time I got back (dripping) I was feeling like I'd been beaten, it was very much a run of three thirds. The first three miles were decent time wise, but my achilles felt (forgive me) shit, the second three slowed a little but were comfortable and the final three were just plain torture. Mix that with people that want to show support, but don't know how really, uttering such phrases as "ooo that looks tough" or "rather you than me", well obviously cos I'm the one with pack on my back doing it! It really is a surprise knowing my short fuse for the nonsensical and generally moronic that there weren't bodies fished out of the Grand Union Canal Monday morning! Still I guess we should put it down to some form of recognition to the task being undertaken. I went out again Tuesday but limited myself to 5 miles, again in full pack and kit, and to be honest felt pretty good, well as good as you can piggybacking what feels like a fat child on your back. But the pace was decent, and I felt pretty comfortable all the way round and for the first time, possibly began to think, I've got this, because come the end of that run, ok only half distance, I know I was feeling ok, and there was plenty in the tank. I'm in confident mood going into it now, feeling bloated all the time because I'm loading up on carbs, but I guess come Sunday it'll all be worth it. The training has now tailed off, I guess for all of us really, I'm just limiting myself to one more run, just in trainers to get any stiffness there may be out of the legs and some gym conditioning work. To be honest I'm not going to get any fitter now than I am, but I'm definitely a thousand times fitter than I was, when we first embarked on this. 

We've all got to the point where 1hr50 was the goal, and now we feel if we achieve that, it will be incredible, but, it's not the driving factor any more. When I look back at how far we've all come and that come Sunday we can stand at the start line, knowing we've done all we can to give ourselves a fighting chance, of even contemplating finishing close to 1hr50, then we've got to be proud of our efforts, as individuals and collectively. I think the 1hr50 and ensuring we hit that became the be all and end all, and to a degree it is, but we know there is no disgrace in not hitting it, finishing this event considering the conditions you're running under is an achievement in itself. However that doesn't mean we wont be going for it.........

I've been stocking up on carb loaded energy gels and beans, not to mention trying to find 'Anti-Monkey Butt' and Germolene 'New Skin' to work alongside, my old man knee pills. Some of the boys have resorted to anti-inflammatory's and pain killers already, which on the face of it seems sensible. It would also appear that come Sunday, a further supplement will have to be in the bag, that I don't think any of us saw coming - sunscreen! Apparently it's going to be 23 and sunny! Just what you want on a tough endurance course in full kit and a Bergen weighing upwards of 35lb. I think it's my little brothers way of ensuring we really do earn those medals.

It's weird to think how quickly the time has gone and how quickly this event has come around, and you do question especially when you're starting from '0' if you've done enough, however it's now time to puff the chest out, crack on, and smash it! 

Smashing it, is something we can aspire to do because of the inspiration we have, the inspiration we all share. Lloydy was, is an incredible man, in his 12 years he achieved everything he set out to do, collecting cap badges like foreign coins, he was an Airborne God, and he lived his life to the fullest, he gave his career everything he had. He did and completed the toughest courses the army had to offer, and he became one of a small band of brothers who 'go, always a little further'. It's probably easiest for me to take an extract from my eulogy that I wrote and read at his service, and probably a lot less painful, than trying to rehash the words.

"My little brother was a born soldier, it's all he ever wanted to be, from such an early age, his determination, drive and focus was unwavering. Even upon initially not making selection, due to injury, he was determined, that he was to be a soldier. He relished the challenge and I admired him for having the courage to stand up for his ideals and follow his own path and go his own way.

Turns out my little brother wasn't so little after all, I always knew he was special, but from what I've read and been told over these recent days, he was a giant among men. I'm immensely proud of the man he had become, and he got there, because he was prepared to do whatever was necessary, to make something of himself. I looked up to him, as much as he looked up to me. I was lucky enough to watch him grow, see him become a man, stand proudly next to him as he became a husband and prouder still as he became a father. He was the best of men and certainly the best I've ever known."

Obviously he made the ultimate sacrifice for his job, for his Queen and his Country, but for him, as for all who give their lives for the Sovereign, it's a reality they face a lot more readily than those they leave behind. He words it a lot more eloquently than I, so again I will rely on my eulogy for the words.

Lloydy says "please do not mourn me, celebrate me and the life that I led. I'm sorry that I've had to leave you all, but unfortunately this is the dangers that the job brings. Please do not have any remorse or find someone to blame, I knew what I was doing and I served my Queen and Country to the best of my ability and enjoyed every moment of it and certainly wouldn't change this for the world."

So in three days time, we will celebrate him and the life that he led, and take a little step into the world he knew and loved. I know that when it starts getting tougher out there, that he'll be with us, pushing us on when we need it the most, and that his example is the push we'll need to see us over the finish line. We'll also be driven forward by the incredible support we have received, we can't thank you enough for all that you've done, whether that be a word of encouragement or supporting the causes we wanted to support, every bit is precious and means so very much, and come Sunday, as well as toasting Lloydy and celebrating him, we will also raise a toast to you all, for all that you've given us. So please, when your clocks hit 1300 on Sunday afternoon, if you read this, and remember, raise a toast to my brother, to the life he led and the legacy he's left behind, celebrate him as we shall and know that in some way you have made his light shine even brighter.

To finish I would like to extend our thanks to The Parachute Regiment Charity who have been completely and utterly behind us all the way, plugging and supporting us and what we are trying to achieve. I hope that this will be the first of many events where the Ally Airborne Bomb Disposal SkyGod Sniper team are able to lend our support, it really is a special thing they do, and I'm very proud that we have been able to do our bit in some small way. 

It's almost 'Standby..........Go' time, so until next week, when there will be undoubtedly some stories to tell and pics to share, I offer, again my heart felt thanks to you all for the support and to those closest to us, our partners, and our families, because without them, this would have been a whole lot harder.....Much love everyone and remember if you see 18 grown men, dripping in sweat, spooning for comfort after 10 ardous miles, that's pretty normal behaviour! xx


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