Two quick things…
Tiptonville, Tennessee. 29th Sept.
I have been reflecting on how I feel, with now 22 days rowing left in our march south and New Orleans. A couple of factors are weighing in just now.
The first is psychological. When I was (trying to) prepare for this marathon, I spent hours on the rowing ergometer. I have one in the bike park at my office, one in France at our house in Chamonix and whenever I went to the gym. Whilst the erg, as it is unaffectionately known, is a very effective physiological training tool, it is painful and also pretty boring. On the long sessions, I used to get an image in my head of a hamster on a wheel…. The longest single sessions I did were 1.5 hours long. It was very hard, with your legs going dead as the edge of the seat would restrict the flow of blood to your legs and in any event, it was uncomfortable. The toughest part of the 90 minute pulls was the 15 minutes just after the hour mark. Here, you had completed the lion’s share of the work and the end was in sight, but the end was still a little way off. That 15 minutes was truly gruelling mentally and i remember it only too well.
I now rather feel like I am in that 15 minute slot after the one hour mark. I have now rowed around 1,500 miles, with about 800 to go. I can almost see the end, but not quite. So I am finding these six days into Memphis really draining mentally. Physically I am strong, but I am mentally weary. New participant crew members undoubtedly help, but I am longing to reach Memphis, from where I will definitely be able to see the end (I hope!).
Secondly, I am suffering pretty badly with Mosquito bites. We are staying in a gloriously beautiful setting next to a lake in Tennessee, but unfortunately we are by a lake! This means still water, which with hot humid days is a perfect combo for these little bastards. I was eaten alive on the first two days and this morning, whilst plodding through the miles, I counted 22 bites and 27 bites on my left and right big toes! Sadly, the rest of my feet and ankles up to my knees are covered in bites and I am slightly concerned that some of the bites on my feet are looking infected. Truly tedious. Oh well, it is only pain.
On a final note, after a recent long and difficult day on the river I received a private note of support from my 15 year old son Charlie which gave me a real psychological lift. It also reminded me of how much he has contributed to the project and how little recognition he has received for his contribution which I would like to try and rectify.
For the more than the first month of the project, I, and the team, had the benefit of the support of my son Charlie. He willingly gave up 5 weeks of his long awaited and precious summer holiday to trek out here with me and make himself available for any work that was going. He steered the boats and he rowed whenever called upon, which was especially brave as he had a partially torn tendon in his right wrist (note – please don’t tell his mum he was rowing!). He put up tents and he packed away tents. He cleared campsites and packed up vehicles. He made tea and brought drinks. He helped Alex, our physio, when required and he sold T shirts for the cause – the English accent helped a little in this regard, I think. Most importantly of all, he did all this unbidden and without trace of complaint. I was truly, hugely, proud of his efforts and demeanour and he was a credit to his school and his parents. SO, let’s hear it for Charlie – a 15 year old boy who wanted to hang with his mates and meet girls, but instead helped a charity raise a ton of money for children in desperate need. A top boy and, after discussion with his mum, we think we might keep him.
Radley (his school) should be proud. We all are.