It wasn’t the first time that I was doubting my ability to do things. However, going to Shompole Wildlife Marathon was way above what I was capable of. First of all, I was inadequately prepared. I didn’t know how I was going to get through the night without a place to sleep in.
Falling off the cliff and into the unknown
Vincent Ochieng’, the organizer, had been kind enough to offer to buy me dinner. Sleeping was another thing altogether. As I got into the tour van that was to ferry us from the Galleria to Lake Magadi, I discovered my life wasn’t going to be the same again.
“This seat is booked for our friend,” the two girls sitting at the back chimed as I desperately looked for a hiding place.
“Okay,” I replied. “But I’m already here and she isn’t,” I explained, trying to reason with them. “Where is she anyway?”
“She said she has just arrived at the gate,” they replied.
I hauled my backpack and went to sit next to the window. There was an elderly lady to my right while a young man sat on my extreme right, next to the van’s door. There was a 50-something year old white man seated with the driver. About 10 minutes later, the lady we had been waiting for arrived and we set off.
As the van drove away, I felt I was falling off the cliff and into the unknown. I had finally embarked on a journey where there was no return. The scar on my neck, where the surgery had been done was still raw. Blood oozed from the stitches every time I touched the back of my neck.
I’m here to win
While the rest of the passengers chatted away, I dug Chris McCormack’s “I’m Here To Win: A World Champion’s Advice for Peak Performance” and started to read. I wanted to be left alone so I could read my book and stop thinking about the challenge that lay ahead of me. I didn’t want to think about the cold night and the run on an empty stomach that awaited me.
“Oh, I can see you like triathlons,” the lady said, pointing at the book I was reading. You should meet my husband,” she continued. “He is the one seated with the driver. The two of you have a lot in common, he is preparing to go for a triathlon event in Holland this year. You should talk to him.”
“That would be great,” I smiled. “My name is James,” I said. “But they call me Jim Buttons because I use lots of buttons.”
“Honey?” she called. “Meet Jim Buttons. He likes triathlons, just like you.”
“My name is Lee,” the guy sitting with the driver said, extending his hand towards me. “Which distance are you running tomorrow,” he asked.
“I was to run 21K but since I had a surgery 14 days ago I will be doing the 1oK,” I replied, hoping he would empathize with me. “I don’t think I’ll be able to…”
“There is no debate about it Jim,” he replied. “Were it not for your surgery I would have challenged you to run the 30K with Eddy and I,” he continued pointing to the guy sitting near the door.
“I guess I’ll have to run the 21K after all,” I said.
“That’s settled then,” Lee replied.
The countdown of Running for My Life continues…