A blog from June 2011 is due before anything else but it is 16 weeks today. London Virgin Marathon – here I come…
My patient, cool, calm and the ever-present extraordinary immense strength of my husband, Richard Thomas, quietly waiting alongside, until our four little ones he has tendered, cared for and loved so well, are all done with the words they simply have to express like little babbling brooks and the physical expression of love they simply have to shower all over me – what it is to have them in my arms again and what it is to finally be in his.
It is done.
I am home.
And I feel like a new person.
I find a rare and incredibly valuable form of self-respect when I complete goals I have set myself and the Marathon des Sables is probably the biggest yet – the biggest I have ever undertaken on my own. Saying that though, ‘on my own’ makes me feel it’s somewhat of a cheat because the ever present spirit of my God, husband, children and other family members and friends meant I was never alone, but I guess in the true physical sense, yes, on my own. Richard and myself deciding we’d like four children close together has without a doubt been the greatest goal I have ever been driven to achieve but I have done it with this great man I love and had constant strength, love, care, support and rock and glue from this out-of-this-world-definitely-from-another-planet husband to sustain me all along and so this is clearly a shared goal, one we have attained together, in the names of love and commitment. Our extraordinary and special four children will always stand out way above anything else I have ever done or will do but as this is a shared goal I cannot, and will not, compare it to anything I achieve ‘on my own’.
My Marathon des Sables is over and I feel good. I feel renewed and refreshed with a lovely dose of new and improved self-respect. 3 years since managing to obtain a place for 2011, 3 years of planning, changing training schedules, nursing injuries, mind sets, working on flexibility, upper body strength; like pushing Luke and Savannah in their pram (3 years ago, Luke was 3 and Savannah 2) uphill to school, core strength, upper arm weights, training with a backpack complete with rocks and full water bottles, revising final strategies due to our ever changing situation, and negotiating the obstacles and challenges that crop up and alter the course of our daily lives. The unbelievable mental and emotional turmoil of stark realisation, month by month since August 2010, on that fateful day at the 75 mile mark during the Leadville 100 Miler when Richard was forced to stop, that he was not going to be able to join me as we had planned for so long. Tears, frustration, sadness…do I defer… do I go on? What is best? What is best for both of us, for our children? The questions that plagued took months to answer and the support and patient responses and endless discussions my husband held with me will forever be fondly remembered. Such love. Such stamina to have to deal with this complex mind that finally decided to go and take that intimidating bull by the horns and fight it, despite all the different demons under the name of fear trying to stop me.
As it is well known, to conquer fear it must be confronted. To ensure a fulfilling, peaceful existence and life abundant in enthusiasm and happiness, doubt and fear can have no place in our hearts or mind, and so there I found myself in the desert, moving closer and closer to a starting line that demanded not only 156 miles of running in harsh, hostile and alien surroundings, albeit it all stunning, but one that was also intensely personal and condensed with varying doubts and fears, manifested mentally over the years, that needed crushing one by one.
As I said in a previous blog, after my marathon day, one can always push harder and train more etc. and in retrospect, now I am home, I do wish I had pushed harder finishing with a better time overall but when I sum up no medical assistance, no poles at all (I can’t help but think poles give one an added advantage – I ended up carrying them the whole way in the event I sustained an injury; they would have helped me at least finish), and everything we have been through since August last year, I must focus on the fact I completed the whole event, with a great marathon day.
As for realising only upon my return, my husband cut and pasted in the region of 200 messages to the MdS email engine to ensure I received all your Blog messages every day, and updated my Blog absolutely beautifully, and oh yes, LOOKED AFTER OUR 4 WONDERS AT THE SAME TIME, I am touched again and again. The gallery he has uploaded into my Blog is just another of his golden twists; no matter what he does, it turns to gold. So much done for me to fully enjoy this incredible experience. My love, thank you from the bottom of my heart. You have made this all possible, wonderfully possible and I am forever indebted to you.
The 2011 Marathon des Sables ‘Raining Camel’, signing out for the last time..
I went to the presentation earlier, where I caught up with my friends again.
Here is Zed, me, Mustapha and Brahim. Note THEIR trophy which they insisted I hold. The Marathon des Sables 2011 has been absolutely amazing
I have been out buying gifts for the family since then and have had a quiet lunch, but tomorrow we are on our way home. All too soon the adventure is over.
I just want to be home now.
The final time 3:19:20 for 17.5 km (11 miles). Final positions will be out later after everyone has completed as they had a staggered start.
She was obviously a bit camera shy at the end, but here is the moment (that’s her in the black with the white stripes down her arms!)
After 155 miles, blistering heat, dunes, hills, night stages, sleeping in the middle of the desert, crevasses, camel grass, pebbles of all shapes and sizes, she has finally finished.
She has the medal to prove it, which will probably end up in a draw before too long, but the experience will live with her forever.
I will not try to over-dramatise what should be the mere formality of 11 miles after the previous 6 days, during which over 144 miles have already been covered.
Nevertheless, for the record, here is what the last day has in store for Liz.
They will start out by running ‘through’ the middle of the bivouac, on the only day on which it will have been left standing, and then after what should now be a familiar few hills and dunes and only one checkpoint, the landscape will turn into an ‘urban’ environment as they make their way through the suburbs of Tazzarine to the finish line. Patrick Bauer, the race director, will be waiting to welcome each and every competitor there, and the emotion at the finish will, predictably, be palpable.
09/04/2011 – STAGE N°6 :
TAKKOURT N’TAKOUIT / TAZZARINE – 17,5 Km
Km 0 : Go West (course 278°) up to the foot of Saredrar djebel, Km 5.1. Small pebbles.
Km 1,6 : Cross the oued. Sand and camel grass.
Km 2,8 : End of oued. Small pebbles.
Km 4,3 : Middle of pass between hills. Cross the oued, fairly rugged terrain.
Km 5,1 : Follow small track to go round crops to the right.
Km 5,8 : Go down into oued and turn left. Sandy and stony.
Km 6,3 : Sandy passage with deceptive slope. Fossilised marble mine to the right.
Km 9 : CP1 on stony plateau. Go W/NW (course 286°) until Km 12.4.
Km 10 : Cross a large track.
Km 11 : Stony plateau ends.
Km 12,4 : Cross track just before Tazzarine ruins. Slightly stony.
Km 13,6 : Go left on the track at the foot of the hill. Small ruin on the hill.
Km 14,5 : First houses of Tazzarine. Cross the village.
Km 15,9 : Tarmac road. Go left.
Km 17,5 : FINISH LINE.
My marathon is done.
54°C (!!yes!!) out there at 2pm today, but then I came to run in the desert so what did I expect? 😉
Today, I just ran and ran. God, the spirit of my soul mate, our magic children, a very concerned mother, my brother Tim who did it with Richard in 2008, my fabulous in-laws, all of them and all my WONDERFUL friends were with me.
Every single step of the way.
Thank you ALL for the tidal wave of support I have received over the last few days and for willing me on.
One can always ‘train more’, ‘sacrifice more’, ‘push more’ and ‘do better’ but there are times when one can really say ‘this is good’. Today is one of those days; I believe this with every fibre of my being.
It is extremely rare to feel this way, but the doubt, fear and overwhelming niggles of potential failure are gone. This is success; my personal success. I have achieved my aim and the emotional, physical and spiritual goals are all but in the bag.
The support I have had along the way is nothing short of astounding. I never expected anything like it. These thoughts and memories are moments to treasure and bring out as precious gems when the routine of life starts to get in the way. This is a celebration of life and of living life to the full.
To cap it all, there has been an orchestra in the desert tonight, which is a slightly surreal, but unique experience arranged for the MdS competitors – WOW.
Tomorrow, the last 17.5 km back to my husband and children. Nothing will stop me now. Nothing will stop me being back in their arms again soon.
I am the most blessed and happy woman on the planet.
Thank you God for this day.
She’s done it – in a fantastic time and position.
Scything through the field from start to finish she started out 778 to cross the start line, at CP1 she was at 598, at CP2 she was at 578, at CP3 she was up to 559 and her final finishing position was 540 in 7:52:46.
I have not seen a more consistent run for a long time with her pace being spot on throughout the race.
More details later…
Well Done Liz
This is the day that everyone ‘enjoys’.
The long day is behind them and the distance is the classic 42.2 km yardstick for distance runners to challenge themselves.
Having completed the best part of 5 marathons over the last 6 days, it will be psychologically less imposing than it might otherwise have been, but there is still a significant physical exhaustion factor to take into account and injury is ever present, waiting on the sideline to be called on for any competitor who let’s down their guard.
Liz said that she woke up this morning with swollen feet, a sign of (mild) dehydration which she was a bit worried about, but it was certainly nothing to prevent her reaching the start line, and I’m sure once she gets going all will be fine.
For those who will be watching the webcam later (probably 3pm BST onwards) she is wearing a white ‘shesh’ (local moroccan) headgear, black top with white stripes down the side of the arms, black full length leggings with white, calf high, parachute silk gaiters and she’ll be showing off this combo in Paris, New York and Milan later in the month…
08/04/2011 – STAGE N°5 :
RICH MERZOUG / TAKKOURT N’TAKOUIT – 42,2 Km
Km 0 : Go W/NW (course 284°) until Km 8.9.
Km 2,2 : Ruins of old mines.
Km 5 : Sandy pass on small hill.
Km 8,1 : Small hill. Cross a valley.
Km 8,9 : Small hill, then abrupt rise.
Km 9,3 : Follow crest line to avoid faults located on the slope of Bou Lalhirh djebel.
Km 11,1 : Go back down into the valley.
Km 11,4 : Valley.
Km 12,3 : CP1. Follow markings to go up and down the djebel.
Km 12,9 : Djebel summit. Technical descent for 200 m.
Until CP2: go W/NW (general course 285°). Variable stony plateau.
Km 15,6 : End of plateau. Sandy oued bed, follow small dunes to the right.
Km 18 : Palm trees to the left in the oued. Same direction. Sand and stones.
Km 20,5 : At the end of stony passage, follow oued branch to go round crops and keep the hills to the left.
Km 22,3 : CP2 close to palm trees on left bank of oued. Follow sandy oued bed W/NW (general course 297°).
Km 23,1 : Ruins of Aït Kherdi to the right.
Km 23,9 : Go past palm grove and Ahandar ruins taking right bank of oued.
Km 26,2 : Hill peak to the left. Sandy. Go W/NW (course 294°) until Km 28.6.
Km 27,7 : Cross a track, (concrete bridge to the right), stay in oued.
Km 28,1 : Village of Aït Haddou to the left.
Km 28,6 : Palm grove and small dunes. Follow markings carefully.
Km 29,6 : After ruins on the left, palm grove ends at a well. Cross Khing oued.
Km 30,6 : Enter Khing palm grove. CAUTION! Imperatively follow markings to avoid crops.
Km 30,9 : CP3 in palm grove. Imperatively follow markings and run along sand defence barriers on the left.
General direction West (course 259°) until Km 39.8.
Km 32,6 : Two rocky peaks to the left. Slightly stony terrain.
Km 34 : Sandy peak to the left. Slightly stony.
Km 38 : Cross oued with vegetation for 700 m.
Km 39,8 : Hill peak to the left. Go W/SW (course 239°). Slightly stony.
Km 42,2 : B6 finish line.
Two days ago, after Stage 3 I was humbled.
My friends from the Rahal team, Mustapha (6) and Brahim (7), were in my tent when I arrived back after Stage 3 when I was an emotional wreck. They were incredible. Both reached for my backpack immediately and took everything from me. Helped me to lie down and TOOK OFF MY SHOES!! What does one say to such generosity of spirit and camaraderie?
Mustapha has just come to find me, now that I have finished the long day, and tells me he came 4 times to our tent through the night to check that I had come in. There are times words completely fail me and this is one such time; The big local Moroccan hero searching out the lowly Liz Pomeroy to find out if she is still alive!
Still, never before have I done 82km and I can say I am delighted with my first.
It was 45 °C midday yesterday, 13 hours before a proper refueling at CP4. I Tried going on but 3 km after I was just stumbling around kicking my already huge toenail which I will lose soon!
I slept under the stars between CP4 and CP5 and woke at 4:30 am. What a treat to watch the sun come up in the desert.
I Managed to run between CP5 and CP6, and then between CP6 to the end, and to say I was delighted would be a bit of an understatement after everything.
It was so tough though.
The Bivouacs came into sight long before there was any chance of sprinting to them – turning the final corner it may have been, but they still seemed to be half a race away for a long time.
I have never been so filthy (luckily we are all in the same boat) and all I can think about now is having four showers and then my love’s face along with our children Joshua, Morgan, Luke and Savannah at the airport. I think that moment will be the end of me. I will be in bits. Again!
Two more days then back to Ouarzazate.
How time flies.