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Personal Epic Challenges: James Saward-Anderson's latest

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Posted by James Saward-Anderson of James Saward-Anderson under Rowing, Running on 26 September 2013 at 11:00 PM

James Saward-Anderson has already guest blogged here on Tribesports about his awesome self-made Challenges - check out how he got on when he decided to Row 50km, Run 50km and Climb a block of flats 50 times!

James profileThe deed is done!

My latest challenge, Rowing 50km, Running 50km and then stair climbing 2,600 meters is completed. I managed to do it in 13 hours 56 minutes.  It was a tough day but the results were very rewarding.

The training camp I undertook was one of the toughest of my entire life. I had never attempted a multi-disciplined event like this before so wanted to ensure that I was as prepared for the challenge as I could possibly be. Doing an event like this was difficult on many levels. There was obviously the first tier of physical exertion; I had to prepare my body to be exercising for a very long period of time in various different activities which involved a lot of long and difficult sessions on the rowing machine and out on the road.

The second tier was coping with the mental stress which accompanied doing an event like this. When I was training for this event I visualised every single bit where I knew things were going to get difficult and made sure I rehearsed the scenario over and over again in my own mind so when they did eventually materialise,  I was more prepared to overcome them.  This kind of visualisation is so important when doing events like this; it is metaphysical sparring shaping stronger and improved levels of willpower. 

The third tier is making an effective game plan. The game plan refers to the strategy of overcoming the event in question. I would be lying if I said that I did not feel intimidated with the prospect of completing this event. However once I began training and began to break down every component into smaller, more bite size chunks, I felt better equipped to complete the challenge.

James Saward-Anderson

Having an effective strategy is important as Ultra Endurance events are essentially a dance between pace and fatigue. You do not want to go so slow that you lose a race or fail to arrive in your desired finishing time but you do not want to run out of energy before you even finish!

With these facts in mind I planned a time schedule for each segment of the event. I originally planned for the Rowing segment of the event to take four hours, I started the event at a shade past ten (10.10AM to be precise). The weather was perfect, very cool, overcast with a slight wind. This was great for me as I was used to training in much hotter conditions so I barely broke a sweat during the first 15km of the challenge.

Rowing Challenge: 50km

I stormed through the row in 3 hours 51 minutes over the 50k and strapped on my running shoes to begin the 50k run which I aimed to complete in four to five hours, holding a 9/10 minute mile pace. The run started well, however I slowed down dramatically after the first 30km, I really did hit a huge wall.

James running with bike pacersThe fatigue from the rowing felt minimal at first but it began to creep in as the miles ticked away during the run phase, my pace dropped to a crawl over the last 10km which was one of the slowest in my life. During this time I thought back to my training and everything I had sacrificed to get to the stage I was in now, I also thought about the money  I would raise by completing the challenge,  it did not matter how slow I was going as long as I did not stop. 

I arrived into Trafalgar Halls at a few minutes to seven, clocking in a run time of 4 hours 57 minutes.  I remembered my first climb very well and the overwhelming sense of isolation and boredom which came with it.  I had completed 200 ascents of these very same stairs on my last challenge but that still did no make these climbs any easier. The prospect of doing 49 more of these was horrifying,  however I tried my very best to stay cheerful. One my heroes in Ultra Endurance David Goggins once said that he “showed no weakness” during the epic races he completed and I made an attempt to do the same whilst on the stairs.  I did not feel good inside but I forced myself to smile and give the illusion of happiness.

James support teamI completed the stair climbing in five hours 9 minutes; I was joined on several climbs by a few of my friends who had cycled 75 miles from London to Portsmouth on the day to come and support me which was a huge motivating factor. There was no way I was going to quit, this challenge was not just about me but the charity I was doing it for - Water Aid - and about all of the people who had given up their days to help me overcome the event.

My energies are now focused on trying to raise as much money as possible from the event.  In this sense the challenge is only half completed!  I raised a total of 180 pounds from proceeds during the day and via a few donations on my just giving page but I want to raise more, 500 pounds to be precise.  Hopefully I will be able to spread the word about the event and in turn this will inspire people to dig deep and give a few pounds to a great charity.

There is always a desire for people to know what I am going to do next however I am very careful to give away too much until things are 100% in place to be able to complete them. What I can say is that it will be epic and it will include bikes across vast swathes of the earth! 

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