However, the pain of that day had faded, and needing a bigger challenge than the 5k parkrun, I signed up again this year. The event has grown since the intial event, and was now being held on two days and has been named the Dirty Weekend, with camping within the grounds of the castle overnight. I opted for the Saturday event on the basis that I would be able to enjoy a cider or two afterwards, and watch my more ambitious mates complete the course on Sunday.
Saturday afternoon was bright and warm, and I was actually quite excited driving to the venue. However, this excitement quickly turned to blind panic on seeing the hill at the start of the course. I have not done any proper hill training since November, and ended up strolling up the hill with all the other people who had opted to start the race in the slow wave. Still, it was very scenic, and at least I had time to enjoy the view.
The course then progressed through deep tracks of mud, which is so gloopy that it rips your trainers off your feet, and a variety of obstacles - fences to climb over, monkey bars (which if I'm honest I took one look at, then chose the alternative crawl under a cargo net), a spiders web of ropes, a quick dip in the lake, and then a mountainous slope of solid mud where you need to pull yourself up on a rope:
This is me a few seconds before I fell flat on my face, and was left dangling on the rope, before some random man took pity on me, and hauled me very inelegantly over the ridge at the top of the slope by my arms. The final obstacle is another longer dip in the lake, before an uphill jog to the finish line.
This is me and my friend Vicky at the end, very glad to have finished the course. I was not particularly fast, but I didn't come last either. However, unlike last time, I absolutely loved taking part. I am now suffering from the type of pain which is agonising but strangely satisfying at the same time - I started today on a care of the elderly placement as part of my course, and struggled to keep up with the chair based exercise class aimed at my 90 year old patients, as my legs will barely move, but it is all worth it.
For the past month, I have been on a acute respiratory placement, including working with patients in intensive care. I think this has made me realise just how fragile life is, and how much I take my good health for granted. None of us know what might happen tomorrow, and from now on, I fully intend to make the best of the opportunities that I have. Some challenges are not meant to be easy, but that makes their completion all the more satisfying.