3 years ago I saw a post of Facebook that I had no idea would change my life. It was a friend of mine who had just competed in the world’s highest, said to be the world’s toughest marathon. I followed his journey and what an incredible life changing trip! I thought instantly that this is that ‘big life event’ that I’ve wanted to work towards. I started talking about it, following the posts from the Everest Marathon team and then I starting telling everyone I was doing this. Soon enough I was booked and paid.
A few months after my friend had returned from this event and I told him I was going to do this and he connected me up with another person who was attending Lesley Turn Hall. Instantly we began sharing notes and ideas. Lesley introduced me to an Altitude expert who also had coached many successful athletes along with supporting those who had been injured in their recovery. I cannot thank Lesley enough for this because meeting Walter Thorburn at The New Zealand Altitude Training Centre was to be the best thing I did for what was ahead.
I walked through the door at the Altitude Centre nervous, somewhat unfit, slightly scared of the event in a years’ time and almost a sense that I didn’t belong with all of these incredible athletes. Walter was so incredibly nice and really was excited for me about what was my goal ahead of the training. He started the work out slow, which I was so grateful for. I was on a good flow of oxygen to start with and a taste of what it would be like at a maximum setting. What an incredibly amazing experience just feeling your muscles cramp and react to the lack of oxygen. My body worked harder which very quickly paid off. This was what it could be like at the starting point of my marathon – Everest Base Camp! 5364M
I walked out of that first training session motivated to improve fitness, reduce oxygen levels and Walter was a huge part of that boost in confidence. Each session I attended from this day (roughly 2 per week, every other week) was even more inspiring. Walter made me feel like I belonged and that I had what it takes to conquer this marathon in a years’ time.
I worked very hard over the year with a great support and coach Walter Thorburn. Because of this I left my last training session in 2015 all ready to set off on a trip of a life time. After the year I was able to train the full hour on the maximum setting and comfortably. This is roughly 10% flow of oxygen. All the hard work and expert advice meant I was injury free with a new frame of mind to achieve my goal. What I didn’t know was what to come was going to test that mental strength I had gained from training. Kathmandu and the Nepal region were struck by a deadly earthquake just a week prior to departure. Thousands lost their love one’s and homes and villages wiped out with the devastation and danger raising the event was postponed.
Mixed emotions of guilt, sadness for those in Nepal and just generally heart broken. I felt the guilt of feeling so gutted I couldn’t participate in what I had trained so very hard for when so many suffered. I took two weeks to get ready to make a decision. I entered the 2016 Everest Marathon and continued my training then began fundraising which ended up being over $4000 to give back to the region. Going back to see Walter and the Altitude Training Centre was almost like therapy for me. I became more dedicated and determined than ever. After another year of training and coaching from Walter I once again finished up the last session before the ‘big’ departure.
I arrived in Kathmandu and a few days later flew into Lukla. The journey just to the start line of this marathon had to be the most challenging but the Everest Marathon team and guides were incredible at making everyone comfortable and took the trek easy to help prevent Altitude Sickness. Sickness can affect anyone and this was the scariest part. By the 12th day of travelling, trekking and staying in beautiful hospitable tea houses we were ready to run this marathon that’s for sure!
After two adventurous nights’ sleep or wake I should say at approximately 7am on May 29th the countdown began 4…3…2…1……RUN! We were finally setting off for what personally I had prepared 3 years for. I ran the full marathon 42.2km from Base Camp to Namche Bazaar in 9 hours 56min as the only New Zealand female this year to do so. Each moment really digging deep and honestly had to be one of the most scenic and challenging events I had ever competed in. This marathon was only my 4th marathon I had ever run and I was humbled to be surrounded by so many who actually celebrated this being their very first marathon!
I’ve returned with a new lease on life, wonderful new friends and most of all a new understanding of how you need to look after yourself and if you do put that dedication and preparation in with expert advice such as Walters you honestly can achieve anything. As far as I’m concerned without Walter Thorburns words of wisdom, patience and expertise this marathon would have been almost impossible. I am forever grateful and so hooked with how Altitude training improves my fitness and athletic ability that I’ve since returned to continue my training. I recommend the New Zealand Altitude Training Centre to anyone of any shape, size or ability because achieving everything you want in life is for everyone.
“You cannot make diamond without a little pressure” Mel Fey
Thank you Walter for helping this diamond sparkle!
To see some of my journey visit my blog or Facebook page
Motivation Endurance Learning (Facebook)