Ultra marathon

I’m still gently reading the Murakami book on running. It’s more a musing on the nature of running and the runner than a how to book but I really like its philosophical air. In a chapter on running an ultra marathon (62miles) in a day he writes,

‘Usually when I approach the end of a marathon, all I want to do is get it over with and finish the race as soon as possible. That’s all I can think of. But as I drew near the end of this ultramarathon, I wasn’t really thinking about this. The end of the race is just a temporary marker without much significance. It’s the same with our lives. Just because there’s an end doesn’t mean existence has a meaning. An end point is simply set up as a temporary marker, or perhaps as an indirect metaphor for the fleeting nature of existence. It’s very philosophical-not that at this point I’m thinking how philosophical it is. I just vaguely experience this idea, not with words, but as a physical sensation.’

I’ve compared this experience we’re going through to a marathon before. It’s not original I know but reading this account made me think that an ultra marathon might be a more fitting metaphor. Not that I’ll ever really know but I imagine the two experiences have a lot in common. Last year we arrived in a small village we were staying in in Switzerland at the same time as the Mont Blanc ultramarathon. The place was filled with frighteningly lean, slightly hang dog blokes who looked like they needed a good rosti with extra cheese. (I wish I were adopting the wiry look of the ultra runner by the way but I’m afraid this period of inertia and hospital food/comfort eating is having the opposite effect. I may come out of it heavier than I was pregnant.) I admired them but felt a wall of incomprehension at the prospect of three day and night gruelling exercise they were about to subject themselves to. The husband got excited and slightly wistful at the thought of such beautiful self punishment.

On our ultramarathon I’ve passed through the elation of the first few miles, settled into the rhythmic pacing of the body as I’ve got into my stride, passed through a couple of pain barriers and now I suddenly feel I’ve almost moved into a space where I’m machine like and I can barely feel the effects of all the vicissitudes and lack of sleep. I’ve even started to assemble my pump equipment in the dark at night like a military man assembles a gun. My husband commented on the spectacularly anal nature of my having pre prepared my middle of the night ovaltine, standing ready by the kettle to avoid wasting precious seconds of sleep. But is there a finish line? Will I be elated when it comes? I don’t know really. It’s actually rather daunting. I am trying to adjust my expectations so that when we do finally get out of here it is not a shock if it is not the garden full of roses I am expecting. These babies may or may not behave like perfectly well behaved term newborns when they get out. We may find ourselves running back into hospital every five minutes. Either way it is likely to get even tougher without the routine and expert support of the special care team. I’ll be glad to have them home either way but I must prepare for a long haul.

Alexander was looking much better today, off his ventilation, alert and only having a few desaturations. He even cried when I held him and demanded a breastfeed which he took hungrily as if he’d been starved (well, he has really as they took him off his feeds). I stepped out for lunch for 10 minutes and by the time I got back he’d crashed and gone back on everything. Ok I said when they told me. Ok. It’s not that I’m numb, just adjusting my norms. His cot had been moved back next to Beatrix’s in their private room. It will have to wait till tomorrow. I had been lovingly folding his things, putting colourful muslins in the nest and laying out a new outfit in anticipation of his return. Oh well.

On a more positive note Beatrix seems to be over yesterday’s madness and is breastfeeding on demand and on schedule like a baby robot. Good girl. She’s taken every feed on our first day of demand feeding without a tube. I’m so proud of her. I want to keep asking the staff, like a whingey kid on a long car journey ‘how much longerrrr?’.

In my hour off I have come to PC world for fun and to sort out an annoying glitch on my iPad which has been preventing me from going online and posting in the day. This is how easily entertained I am. Earlier I read an NHS consultation document and filled in 20 page questionnaire for fun. Woo hoo. Somebody save me.

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